Dec 162016
 December 16, 2016

Dr. Farr Curlin, a Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, is among a group of Duke faculty inviting others to join an ongoing series dedicated to discussing ethics and modern healthcare.

Duke faculty and graduate students can join biweekly, clinical case-based discussions every other Tuesday from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Trent Center Conference Room in the Seeley G. Mudd Building, adjacent to the Trent Semans Center for Health Education.

For the May 16 discussion, participants will talk about the birth and death of a baby with anencephaly, a defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. Conversation will surround questions of what is morally permissible in such a situation. The group will be presented with guiding questions to initiate discussion.

Each meeting features a case study, followed by moderated discussion led by Curlin, Associate Research Professor of Philosophy Jennie Hawkins or Dr. Phil Rosoff.

Light refreshments will be served. For more information, email or call (919) 668-9000.

Dec 102016
 December 10, 2016

Rethinking Regulation at the Kenan Institute for Ethics is cosponsoring a discussion with Sarah Bloom Raskin, former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

At noon May 10 in Duke Law School room 4042, Raskin will discuss the government’s response to the financial crisis and the merits of potential changes to Dodd-Frank currently under consideration. Ms. Raskin will also discuss critical issues that rose to the fore during her time at Treasury, including cybersecurity and the student loan market.

In addition to her role with the Department of the Treasury, Raskin also served as a Governor of the Federal Reserve Board, where she conducted the nation’s monetary policy, regulated banking institutions, monitored threats to financial stability, oversaw compliance and community development, and engaged in oversight of the nation’s payment systems.

The event is also cosponsored by Duke’s Global Financial Markets Center. Lunch will be served. For information, contact

Dec 082016
 December 8, 2016

GradFellowsSympOn Monday, December 12, join the Kenan Graduate Fellows for their year-end symposium, to be held in the Ahmadieh Conference Room between 2:30pm-6:30pm. This year’s theme is: Scholarship and Practice.

The 2:30-5:00pm session will focus on linkages between scholarship and work beyond the ivory tower. Current Graduate Fellows will present about some aspect of their scholarship, their work outside of the academy, and/or the connection between the two.

From 5:15-6:30pm, a roundtable discussion will feature the presenters along with Kenan Senior Fellow and Professor of Theological Ethics at the Duke Divinity School Luke Bretherton.

Dec 052016
 December 5, 2016

Rethinking Regulation at the Kenan Institute for Ethics will host the workshop, “Ethics, Codes, and Learning: Building an adaptive policy framework for emerging Technology” May 5 in the Ahmadieh Family Conference Room in West Duke.

The event will work to map several possible strategies toward  adaptive regulatory approaches for emerging technologies and to discuss a specific case study on autonomous vehicles. Along with participation of experts, academics, policymakers and industry representatives, the workshop will feature a keynote speech by Professor Luciano Floridi, one of the world’s leading experts on ethics and information.

The workshop also marks the launch of a new research program on adaptive regulation for the Rethinking Regulation program.

See additional details below.

Workshop Description

Emerging technologies pose challenges for policymakers. The acceleration of the pace of innovation, amplified by the introduction of digital technologies and machine learning in a number of production and consumption processes, challenges the traditional paradigm of the regulatory process, which may be too slow and rigid to foresee or cope with rapid change.  Moreover, even when rules are fit for purpose, their implementation and enforcement can be complicated by the pervasive use of algorithms, which increasingly make decisions and operate with various levels of transparency, making it difficult for public authorities to predict and monitor compliance. New technologies such as autonomous vehicles, medical robots, distributed ledgers and algorithmic trading, call on policymakers to take a proactive, anticipatory role and modify their traditional tools to accompany the evolution of technology by creating a flexible and adaptive regulatory framework.

This process is uncovering a fascinating parallel: just as machines are increasingly being programmed to rapidly adapt to the surrounding environment, policies will also need to adapt to ongoing change. Can legal rules be “coded” like machines to become more adaptive? How can technology help the design and implementation of legal rules over time, e.g. by offering ways to supervise compliance? How can public policy goals such as the protection of health, safety, user rights, justice and non-discrimination be effectively incorporated in the functioning of legal rules? This workshop, which marks the launch of a new research program on adaptive regulation at Duke’s Rethinking Regulation @ Kenan Institute for Ethics, will explore these questions.  We hope to map several possible strategies toward  adaptive regulatory approaches for emerging technologies; and to discuss one specific case study, autonomous vehicles. The workshop will feature a keynote speech by Professor Luciano Floridi, one of the world’s leading experts on ethics and information; and the participation of experts, academics, policymakers and industry representatives.

Workshop Agenda

09.00   Registration and Coffee

09.30   Welcome, introduction, and setting the stage

This session will be introduced by Jonathan B. Wiener, Lori S. Bennear and Andrea Renda.  We will discuss key research questions for the workshop, including the alternative strategies and instrument choices for adaptive regulation of fast-changing emerging technologies.

10.00   Panel 1 – Ethics, technology and machine learning

This session will be moderated by Andrea Renda and will be dedicated to a discussion of the main ethical aspects of emerging technologies. In particular, the challenge of developing human-friendly, ethical algorithms and artificial intelligence will be explored, with examples from various fields, e.g. autonomous vehicles and medical robots. The prospect for the advancement of deep learning technologies also calls for a discussion on both agency and liability issues. For example, a recent report of the European Parliament called for the attribution of a separate legal personality to smart autonomous robots. Should US policymakers move in the same direction?

11.30   Keynote & Lunch Ethics and emerging technologies

Keynote presentation by Luciano Floridi, Oxford

13:15   Panel 2 – The Case of Autonomous Vehicles

This session will be moderated by Lori S. Bennear, and will focus on one specific technology, that of autonomous vehicles. How can policymakers facilitate the transition towards self-driving cars on the road? What adaptive regulation techniques can be used to balance innovation and efficiency in transportation with safety, security and the protection of users’ rights? How should the transition be managed, in particular when both self-driving and human-driven cars are co-existing on the road? How can decision algorithms, and technologies such as “geo-fencing” and modification in the road infrastructure, be used to avoid or mitigate ethical problems such as the “trolley problem”? How should the handoff problem be approached in semi-autonomous vehicles? How and when should self-driving cars share data? 

14.30    Break

14.45   Panel 3 – Emerging technology and policy learning

This session will be moderated by Jonathan B. Wiener, and will focus on policy learning. What are the alternative strategies for adaptive regulation?  What is “on the menu” of instrument choices, or which “tools are in the toolbox,” for designing more adaptive/built-to-learn regulatory systems?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?  If a machine can be coded to adapt to changing conditions, can public policies be “programmed” to do so as well? What combination of industry best practices, soft law, private regulation and public rules/standards would best tackle these challenges, allowing for both flexibility and predictability of legal rules? What changes would be needed in the regulatory process to accommodate the new policy mix? What would be the needs and opportunities posed by adaptive regulatory approaches for key public and private actors?  What would be the needs for key functions through the “adaptive policy cycle” – e.g. initial policy, ex ante impact assessment, oversight/review, data gathering and monitoring, ex post or ongoing evaluation, policy adjustment/revision,and iterative oversight/review – and who should perform each task?  What ethical issues and public/stakeholder involvement questions are important?

Ethics, Codes, and Learning: Building an adaptive policy framework for emerging Technology
May 5, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Ahmadieh Family Conference Room (Room 101
West Duke Building

Dec 052016
 December 5, 2016

ed balleisan-fraud book-coverEdward J. Balleisen, associate professor of history and public policy and vice provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, will give a talk about his latest book, “Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff,” at 7 p.m. May 5 at Durham’s Regulator Bookshop at 720 Ninth St.

In his book, Balleisen, a Kenan Institute for Ethics Senior Fellow who helped create Kenan’s Rethinking Regulation program, weaves stories of dishonesty and efforts to limit deceptive marketing going back to the early 19th century. He explores challenges of social trusts in a modern, capitalist economy and investigates what makes consumers and investors vulnerable to fraud.

The event is open to the public. For more information about his book, see this story.

Nov 272016
 November 27, 2016

Duke Presdient Richard H. Brodhead, left, Elizabeth Kiss, center, President of Agnes Scott College, and Laurie Patton, right, President of Middlebury College.

On April 27, Duke President Richard H. Brodhead will take part in a moderated panel discussion focused on leadership and ethical decision making and its place in everyday life on a college campus.

The program, moderated by Suzanne Shanahan, Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics, will also include Elizabeth Kiss, President of Agnes Scott College, and Laurie Patton, President of Middlebury College.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. April 27 at the Doris Duke Center at Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Reception to follow.

Nov 272016
 November 27, 2016

Vasileios Syros, a Maurice Amado Fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and a Senior Research Fellow at the Academy of Finland, will  introduce a new perspective on Islamic debates on violence by focusing on Islamic political advice literature on good government and the origins and effects of oppressive or arbitrary rule.

Syros will explore how the distinction between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ power can serve as a heuristic device for the examination of a set of medieval Islamic writings on the successful conduct of government. In addition, the paper will relate these ideas to European political thought, such as Machiavelli’s The Prince. The ultimate objective of the talk will be to identify and analyze broader affinities and points of intersection between Western and non-Western modes of political theorizing on statecraft and styles of leadership.

Noon to 2 p.m.
April 27
West Duke 08C
Lunch is provided

Nov 252016
 November 25, 2016

Kenan Institute for Ethics Senior Fellow Dr. Farr Curlin will be a featured speaker at the 2017 Nancy Weaver Emerson Lectureship, where he’ll be part of a debate titled “Physician Aid-in-Dying: Within or Outside the Boundaries of Good Medicine?”

The event, free and open to the public, will begin at 5:45 p.m. April 25 at the Nasher Museum of Art.

Curlin, who also serves as the the Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities, has co-authored more than 100 articles and book chapters dealing with the moral and spiritual dimensions of medical practice, including the recent essay “Why Physicians Should Oppose Assisted Suicide.” As a practicing palliative medicine physician, Curlin seeks to understand how to practice medicine ethically for patients who are dying.

In 2016 Colorado became the seventh state to provide a legal mechanism by which a physician may write a prescription for medications that a terminally ill patient may take to end the patient’s life. Efforts are underway in multiple other states to legalize this practice, described variously as “death with dignity,” “physician aidin-dying,” “physician-assisted death,” and “physician-assisted suicide.”

Joining Curlin is Dr. Timothy E. Quill, the Founding Director of the University of Rochester School of Medicine Palliative Care Program and the Acting Director of the school’s Paul M. Schyve Center for Bioethics. Quill has published and lectured widely about various aspects of the doctor-patient relationship, with  focus on end-of-life decision making, including exploring last resort options. He was the lead physician plaintiff in the New York State legal case challenging the law prohibiting physician-assisted death that was heard in 1997 by the U.S. Supreme Court (Quill v. Vacco).

As part of the 2017 Emerson Lecture, the two physicians, will debate whether physician aid-in-dying belongs as part of medical care. Quill will argue that it does, and Curlin will argue that it does not. After brief presentations, they will engage each other and members of the audience in a moderated discussion of this critical issue in contemporary healthcare.

For more information, see this flier.

Nov 242016
 November 24, 2016

Internationally proclaimed safe areas are often viewed as a relatively low-cost means of civilian protection in civil war situations involving the threat of mass atrocities, but are safe areas established over sizable territories, without the consent of the conflicting parties, problematic from a human rights perspective?

Join Stefano Recchia, University Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Cambridge, at 1:30 p.m. April 24 in Gross Hall 270 as he presents “The Trouble with Internationally Proclaimed Safe Areas” as part of the Security, Peace, and Conflict Workshop.

The event is cosponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke American Grand Strategy Program, Duke Asian Security Program and the Trinity College Signature Course Program.

Recchia has authored articles in Political Science QuarterlyReview of International Studies, and Security Studies. He is the author of “Reassuring the Reluctant Warriors:  U.S. Civil Military Relations and Multilateral Intervention” (Cornell 2015).

Nov 232016
 November 23, 2016

In the 21st century, religion has made a surprising and powerful return, and has had major impact on public affairs, domestic and international alike. Scholars are still scrambling to understand the phenomenon’s significance, and those concerned for the preservation of constitutional norms and civility have been searching for new forms of interreligious dialogue.

To better address today’s unique challenges, Religions & Public Life will bring together scholars for “Interreligious Dialogue in the Post-Secular Age” from April 24 to 25.

Do we live in a post-secular age? Has the Weberian concept of modernity proved inadequate? Does postmodernity open new opportunities for religious dialogue? Scholars at five Israeli, European & American universities will be exploring these questions with a view to launching a long-term international collaboration that may result in the establishment of a new institute.

The workshop will take place on April 24 to 25, 2017 at Duke University, a founding member of the group, with hospitality extended by the Religions and Public Life Initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics.