Public Issues and Public Reason: A Conference of Applied Ethics and Critical Social Sciences

October 20, 2020 - October 21, 2020
Ethics and Public Affairs program, Carleton University


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Dalhousie University


Carleton University

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Public Issues and Public Reason: A Conference of Applied Ethics and Critical Social Sciences

Security and Justice: Lessons From a Global Pandemic

DATE: October 20th-21st 2020

The Public Issues and Public Reason (PIPR) Conference is a graduate student conference organized by the Ethics and Public Affairs Programme at Carleton University. This year the conference has moved online and will focus on workshopping papers. The conference will be held over two days from October 20th to October 21st.

The PIPR conference is multidisciplinary graduate student conference, where graduate students, from a variety of programmes and disciplines, present papers analyzing current social and global challenges through the lenses of applied ethics, political theory, and critical social sciences. The theme of this year’s conference is Security and Justice: Lessons From a Global Pandemic. Conference organizers particularly encourage submissions on the following themes as they apply to justice, security, and public health:

  • Ethics of Pandemic Preparedness: State actors are uniquely positioned to respond to the risks posed to society by pandemics.  What ethical obligations do governments have in light of this position, and what structural changes are required in light of how the current crisis has been handled? 
  • Social Determinants of Risk: Those who have been most harmed by the pandemic are those who are already at the fringes of society: those who don’t have access to healthcare, or those whose financial situation requires them to work when it is unsafe to do so.  What conclusions can we draw from the fact that the risks of this crisis have been disproportionately held by those who are the worst off?
  • Global Crisis, Injustice and State Violence: The recent protests against police violence come at a time when the world is already in crisis.  What can we learn from the proximity of these two important events?  How do times of crisis exacerbate existing social injustices?

The PIPR Conference is open to all policy-relevant papers drawing on ethics, political philosophy, and critical social sciences. Submissions are welcome from graduate students in philosophy and ethics, law, social sciences, public health, and health policy. 

Keynote Speaker: Francoise Baylis

Françoise Baylis is a philosopher whose innovative work in bioethics, at the intersection of policy and practice, has stretched the very boundaries of the field.  Her work challenges readers to think broadly and deeply about the direction of health, science and biotechnology. It aims to move the limits of mainstream bioethics and develop more effective ways to understand and tackle public policy challenges in Canada and abroad.

A public intellectual for the modern age, Baylis brings her ethical sensibilities, informed by best practices, theory and common sense, to a wide range of public issues. She is a frequent guest on CBC and Radio Canada and the author of many news stories with a “behind the scenes” look at ethical issues. Her current research focuses on heritable human genome modification, the body economy, assisted human reproduction, and research involving women. With a personal mantra to make the powerful care, Baylis contributes to national policy-making via government research contracts, membership on national committees and public education. This work – all of which is informed by a strong commitment to the common good – focuses largely on issues of social justice.

These days, Baylis is thinking mostly about the current global health crisis. As she considers the ethics of physical distancing, clinical triage protocols and immunity passports, she keeps returning to the question at the heart of her new book Altered Inheritance: “What kind of world do we want to live in?” 

Françoise Baylis is University Research Professor, NTE Impact Ethics, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University. She is a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. In 2017 she was awarded the Canadian Bioethics Society Lifetime Achievement Award.

For more information visit or contact: 

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