Ira W. DeCamp Bioethics Seminar
ABSTRACT: Conservative approaches to medical ethics may serve well enough in ordinary circumstances, but a pandemic reverses the asymmetry of risk. Faced with uncertain prospects, we can no longer blindly assume that the status quo is the safer route. Instead, we should judge the safer option to be whichever one best reduces overall risk in expectation, even if it involves increased risk and uncertainty along some dimensions. I will defend two principles that are routinely overlooked in public discourse concerning pandemic risk, with disastrous consequences for public policy—from blocking human challenge trials to alarmist vaccine suspensions. By coming to appreciate the possibility and significance of status quo risk, we will be better prepared to respond appropriately when the next pandemic strikes.
Richard Chappell, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. His primary research interests concern the defense and development of consequentialism, effective altruism, and robust normative realism. Chappell blogs at www.philosophyetc.net about these and other philosophical topics. He has published widely in journals including Noûs, Philosophy & Phenomenological Research, and the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, and his book Parfit's Ethics was published by Cambridge University Press earlier this year.
Lara Buchak, Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University, will respond. Her book Risk and Rationality was published by Oxford University Press in 2013.
Peter Singer, the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values, will chair.
For in-person attendance, register here.