Apr 112017
 April 11, 2017

Despite their opposing political viewpoints, John Hood and Leslie Winner encourage others to look past the heated polarization of today’s politics.

As Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Practitioners-in-Residence from April 3 to 7, the pair demonstrated how to work across ideological lines without compromising one’s own beliefs while meeting with students, faculty, staff and the public. A week-long series of events was organized through Kenan, the Center for Political Leadership, Innovation, and Service (POLIS) and the Policy Bridge.

Throughout their week on campus, Hood and Winner shared insight with the Duke and Durham community. Read more about their visit in this Duke Today story.

Watch Hood and Winner’s public talk, “Finding Common Ground in a Polarized World”:

Mar 082017
 March 8, 2017

For nearly a century, the cartoons in The New Yorker have been the standard for urbane wit. Now a Duke professor of computer science has shown he meets that standard.

Vincent Conitzer, part of the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ MADLAB, was the recent winner of a weekly contest to caption drawings seen in the magazine. Conitzer, the Kimberly J. Jenkins University Professor of New Technologies and professor of Computer Science and economics, provided the winning entry for a one-sentence exchange between two sharks: “The doctor said it might help me quit.”

Learn about Conitzer’s entry in this Duke Today story.

Feb 082017
 February 8, 2017  Tagged with:

how-to-ask-revA team of researchers from the Kenan Institute for Ethics was recently awarded funding as part of a project called “Towards a Culture of Questioning,” an effort to consider how asking the right kind of questions can make political discussion more productive.

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, the Chauncey Stillman Professor in Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and director of Kenan’s Moral Attitudes and Decision-Making Program, is acting as principal investigator for a team that includes:

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor Jesse Summers (co-principle investigator)
  • Postdoctoral researcher Jordan Carpenter
  • Aaron Ancell, a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy and a former Kenan Graduate Fellow

Grant funding comes from the University of Connecticut’s Humanities Institute, funded by the John Templeton Foundation. “A Healthier Q&A” is one of 10 projects receiving funding to explore the landscape of American discourse and create strategies to spur and sustain open-minded, reasonable and well-informed debate and dialogue.

Duke’s team will work to determine which questions, and which contexts, produce humility and civility in public discourse, and which produce polarization and inflexibility. The goal is to find ways to promote a culture of democratically engaged inquiry. Ultimately, the research team hopes to train others to ask questions that lead to mutual appreciation and productive dialogue.

The project is also one of the 2017-2018 Bass Connections teams and will include undergraduate and graduate Duke students.

Dec 212016
 December 21, 2016

Sinnott-ArmstrongOn December 21st and 22nd, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong will appear on The Triangle’s Afternoon News with Scott Briggaman on NewsRadio WPTF to discuss the impact of the North Carolina Legislature’s most recent actions regarding the controversial House Bill 2. Briggaman’s two-part conversation with Sinnott-Armstrong will air at 3:42pm and 5:42pm, starting Wednesday and concluding Thursday locally on 680AM and online.

Nov 212016
 November 21, 2016

Twitter_BlindDuke Postdoctoral Fellow Jordan Carpenter has recently published an article on stereotypes of Twitter users based on the content of their tweets. In an innovative study, Carpenter asked participants to guess the gender, political identity, age, and education of a person based on a single tweet. While participants were more likely to guess gender, politics, and age correctly, they performed worse than chance on education.

“An accurate stereotype should be one with accurate social judgments of people,” but clearly every stereotype breaks down at some point, leading to “mistaken social judgement,” Carpenter said.
Read the full article here.

Jun 202016
 June 20, 2016

Grad-AwardsEach year, the Kenan Institute for Ethics selects up to 12 graduate student applications for the Graduate Student Fellowships each academic year. Students from any Duke graduate program may apply. Ideal candidates will be in the 3rd or 4th year of their PhD studies: finished all (or almost all) of their coursework requirements, but still developing new ideas and approaches for their dissertation research.

The Fellows receive an award of $3000 that supplements their current funding. This Fellowship involves regular participation in a seminar (typically featuring an invited speaker) that meets approximately five times in each of the Fall and Spring semesters, on a Monday from noon-1:30 pm. In addition, there will be a half-day workshop during the pre-exam reading break at the end of each term.

The seminar series does not typically require extensive preparation in advance. The aim of the on-going discussion among the fellows and Institute faculty members in the seminar is to enhance everyone’s ability to contribute to debates involving ethical issues, and to do so in ways that engage scholars and others both within and outside of their own academic disciplines. Fellows will also be asked to participate in a one-day workshop early in the fall of their Fellowship year, and in two late-afternoon workshops – one late in fall and one late in the spring semester.

The deadline to apply for the Graduate Fellowship at the Kenan Institute for Ethics for the 2016-2017 academic year is Monday, July 11, 2016. For further information, contact kie@duke.edu with “Graduate Fellowship question” in the subject heading.

Download the application (docx)


Feb 242016
 February 24, 2016

brainVlad Chituc and Paul Henne, researchers with the Moral Attitudes and Decision-Making MADLAB, recently published an article in the New York Times describing the outcome of a project examining perceptions of moral obligations. Based on an earlier theory by KIE Faculty Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, the team surveyed hundreds of people, presenting various scenarios to gauge what they viewed as a moral obligation based on the ability to fulfill that promise.

In our study, we presented hundreds of participants with stories like the one above and asked them questions about obligation, ability and blame. Did they think someone should keep a promise she made but couldn’t keep? Was she even capable of keeping her promise? And how much was she to blame for what happened?

Feb 172016
 February 17, 2016

Sinnott-ArmstrongWriting for the academic editorial and research site The Conversation, KIE faculty Walter Sinnott-Armstrong outlines five ways that we can make the greatest difference in doing good for the world.

Effective Altruism is exciting and beneficial in many ways. It gets people to think about how to help others, and encourages people to act in ways that do help others. Many people don’t contribute as much as they should, maybe because of doubts about the difference it will make or where to put their efforts. But while we wholeheartedly support the movement, calculating which causes are better than others risks being oversimplified. So here are five practical ways to become a really effective altruist instead.

Jan 262016
 January 26, 2016

The Kenan Institute for Ethics is offering two opportunities for Duke undergraduate students to engage in research and exploration this summer. The Kenan Summer Fellows program is accepting funding applications from undergraduates for projects exploring what it means to live an ethical life. Projects can be local, domestic, or international, and could involve creating a documentary film, conducting field interviews with community members, travel to conferences, and more. Each student will receive up to $5,000. Applications are due February 5. See the KSF page for application instructions and details.

The Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics is offering a unique opportunity for undergraduates interested in business and human rights. Pathways of Change will connect students with partner organizations in the public and private sectors for internships to examine ways to effect change in corporate human rights practice. Each student will receive a $5,000 stipend. Applications are due February 5. See the Pathways of Change page for application instructions and details.

Jan 262016
 January 26, 2016

A woman looking to conceive needs artificial insemination and visits a clinic approved by her insurer. The doctor refuses care. The patient in question is a lesbian, and the doctor refuses his services based on his religious convictions. How do you insure the rights of a patient in this situation? How do you also protect doctors from having to take action on a variety of morally gray decisions? KIE faculty Walter Sinnott-Armstrong addresses the issue of conscientious objection in healthcare for The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.