Upcoming Webinars


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If you are interested in holding a webinar with CSSPE, please email Dianne Lalonde at dlalond3@uwo.ca

Canadian Society for the Study of Practical Ethics Talks and Annual General Meeting

Friday, June 4, 2021 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET

This event will feature two talks and our Annual General Meeting. For the talks, each presenter will have 40 minutes to present their arguments, and then there will be 20 minutes for a question and answer period. We hope you will join us as well for our AGM where we will share information about CSSPE membership and our goals for the 2021-22 year!

The timing will be as follows:

  • 1:00 – 2:00 pm ET – The Responsive Diversity Worker by Amber Spence, University of Guelph, Philosophy Department
  • 2:00 – 3:00 pm ET – CSSPE Annual General Meeting
  • 3:00 – 4:00 pm ET – Forgiveness as Turning Off Blame’s Lamp by Craig K. Agule, Rutgers University–Camden

Picture of Amber Spence

The Responsive Diversity Worker
Amber Spence, University of Guelph, Philosophy Department

Often in academia, women and minorities are held to a higher standard in how they present themselves (caring, empathetic), and how they manage the emotions of their colleagues and students. The emotional labour that has become expected of them is well documented in studies and feminist literature.

In my paper, I expand on Carla Fehr’s ‘epistemic diversity worker’ to better include all women and minorities within the term ‘diversity worker’. Most importantly, I develop a new term to include the emotional labour that is done by diversity workers: Responsive Diversity Work. I summarize Fehr’s view of the epistemic diversity worker in section one, develop a theory of emotional labour in section two, and explain how the responsive diversity worker is, by virtue of the unfair emotional labour that is expected of her, at great risk of developing mental health issues.

I develop a view of emotional labour by investigating the theory proposed by Hochschild and expanded by Nobauer and Koster. Generally, this view regards emotional labour as the work involved in either inciting an emotional state in oneself, or simply behaving as though one feels a certain way that has become expected of them.

The choice to ‘opt out’ of the work involved in emotional labour comes at a cost for the diversity worker, in a way that does not happen to her cis white male counterparts. For the diversity worker, not engaging in emotional labour can entail a halt in professional advancement in the form of poor student evaluations. These evaluations are used in professional contexts to help make a case for or against career advancement. The strain from sustaining this level of emotional management often results in mental health issues, which may help to shed light on the problem of the leaky pipeline.

Picture of Craig Agule

Forgiveness as Turning Off Blame’s Lamp
Craig K. Agule, Rutgers University–Camden

Forgiveness has a puzzling relationship with the reasons we might forgive. To some philosophers, it has seemed that we can only forgive for certain reasons; the reasons are ontological conditions of forgiveness. To other philosophers, it has seemed that good reasons to forgive mandate forgiveness; the reasons are obligating, normative conditions of forgiveness. Both of these positions are in deep tension with our ordinary practice of forgiveness, as it seems that forgiveness is up to us and that we might sometimes forgive in error. To properly respond to these puzzling features, we must properly understand forgiveness, and to properly understand forgiveness, we must properly understand blame. In this paper, I explain that blame essentially involves certain perceptual dispositions, dispositions to attend and dispositions to interpret. When we forgive, we set aside those perceptual dispositions. As I argue, blame is like a lamp, and so forgiveness is turning off that lamp. Understanding blame and forgiveness in those ways helps us resolve forgiveness’s ostensibly puzzling relationship with its reasons.


Ethical Issues in Migration

Friday, June 25, 2021 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm ET

This webinar features two paper presentations. Each speaker will have 40 minutes to present their arguments, and then there will be 20 minutes for a question and answer period.

Picture of Karen Connie Abalos-Orendain

A Critical Account of Habermas’s Communicative Action as Applied to Filipina Migrant Claims
Karen Connie Abalos-Orendain, PhD, University of the Philippines, Diliman

The appeal of Critical Theory comes from many fronts. However, its applicability on practical issues both for the political and the moral is probably its strongest feature. The question then becomes: up to what extent can concepts such as communicative theory and intersubjective processes translate to action? In this paper, we explore the limitations and possibilities of Critical Social Theory and discourse ethics as posed by Jurgen Habermas. Specifically, we critically analyze his concept of Communicative Action by applying it to the question of migrant rights.  When applied to the claims of female migrant domestic workers, how will Habermas’s discourse theory hold? 

We begin this analysis with a brief description of Habermas’s theory. We focus on his vision for what Critical Theory can offer as a framework through his concepts of communicative action. We reflect on his insights critically by utilizing the analysis of his own former students, Nancy Fraser and Seyla Benhabib. We show how Fraser shows the limitations of Habermas’s concept because he failed to take into consideration the female perspective and contribution to the labor force as well as the society in general. How are migrant domestic workers’ rights different from other rights claims? We pose that feminist issues also translate into migrant claims within the nuclear home in the case of domestic helpers. This mounts the question of migration within the gender framework.

Meanwhile, Benhabib presents us with the potential of the theory once again by reminding us of its universalist stance, which can be advantageous when applied to migrant workers. We delve deeper into the question of rights as moral claims and rights as legal entitlements. Is the gap between the two distinctions simply a matter of recognition? Seyla Benhabib helps us understand the problem. We then conclude with a quick summary and a brief projection of what is possible regarding this particular issue using the methods of discourse theory. In this project, the discourse we refer to is the ongoing milieu of migrant narratives and its subsequent claims.

Picture of Jordan Desmond

Care Worker Migration and the Responsibility for Rectifying Injustices
Jordan Desmond, Queen’s University

In “Care Worker Migration and Transnational Justice,” Lisa Eckenwiler offers a brilliant account of the ongoing care worker migration crisis, identifying the structural injustices that have caused and been created by the crisis, as well as the agents implicated in their manifestation and perpetuation.[1] Further, Eckenwiler offers several recommendations for how we might go about attributing responsibilities to respond to these injustices. In this paper, I take a critical look at Eckenwiler’s approach to attributing responsibility and the extent to which it can be said to satisfy what ought to be considered the aims of moral action. In particular, I identify in Eckenwiler’s account certain ambiguities that, I argue, entail limitations in scope or in motivational capacity that fail to maximize just outcomes for those who have been harmed by mass care worker migration.

In light of such issues, I situate Eckenwiler’s position within a framework inspired by the work of Robert Goodin,[2] so as to strengthen the grounds upon which we are able to make attributions of responsibility and expand the scope of implicated agents from whom moral action is demanded. In particular, I argue that we ought to hold agents responsible for moral action by virtue of their capacity for effective response and regardless of their causal relationship to the crisis. The hope is that by doing so, I am able to preserve the strengths of Eckenwiler’s approach to transnational justice while offering a more effective means of responding to the care worker migration crisis. In order to demonstrate this effectiveness, I consider a concrete proposal, articulated by Joan Tronto,[3] for addressing issues of dislocation and exploitation that result from mass care worker migration and argue that my account is more effectively able to carry out such a proposal.

[1] Lisa Eckenwiler, “Care Worker Migration and Transnational Justice,” Public Health Ethics 2, no. 2 (2009): 171-183.

[2] Robert Goodin, “What Is So Special About Our Fellow Countrymen?” Ethics 98 (1998): 663-686.

[3] Joan Tronto, “Care as the Work of Citizens,” in Women and Citizenship, ed. Marilyn Friedman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 130-145.