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Workshop tackles ethics of terrorism and torture

Feb. 3, 2010

KALAMAZOO--The many questions raised by terrorism, counter-terrorism and torture will come into sharper focus Thursday and Friday, Feb. 11-12, during a two-day workshop on the Western Michigan University campus.

The "Terrorism, Ticking Time Bombs and Torture" workshop is based around the upcoming book of the same title written by Dr. Fritz Allhoff, WMU assistant professor of philosophy, with workshop topics gleaned from the book's chapters. The book is to be published by the University of Chicago Press and released early next year.

In addition to WMU graduate students, workshop presenters and panelists include Dr. Michael Davis, a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions and professor of philosophy at the Illinois Institute of Technology; Dr. Jeremy Wisnewski, assistant professor of philosophy at Hartwick College; and Dr. Jessica Wolfendale, assistant professor of philosophy at West Virginia University.

In all, the workshop includes seven lectures and culminates in a panel discussion late Friday afternoon presented as part of the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society spring lecture series. All events are in Room 3014 of Moore Hall, with the exception of the panel discussion, which is in the MLK Room--Room 204--of the Bernhard Center.

All events are free and open to the public. Registration is required by sending e-mail to: vishal.k.garg@wmich.edu.

Lecture times and topics

Thursday, Feb. 11

  • 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., 3014 Moore Hall--Chris Boss, a WMU graduate student in philosophy, will present "What is Terrorism? Boss' philosophical interests include the philosophy of neuroscience and the history and philosophy of biology.
  • 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., 3014 Moore Hall--David Charlton, a WMU graduate student in philosophy and an instructor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, will discuss "The Moral Status of Terrorism." Charlton's research interests include applied ethics.
  • 4:45 to 5:45 p.m, 3014 Moore Hall.--Davis will address "Conceptual and Moral Foundations of Torture." Davis has taught at Case Western Reserve, Illinois State and the University of Illinois at Chicago and has held a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship. He has published more than 120 articles and chapters and written seven books.

Friday, Feb. 12

  • 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., 3014 Moore Hall--Davis will talk about "Ticking Time Bomb Methodology."
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 3014 Moore Hall--Wisnewski will present "Should We Torture in Ticking Time-Bomb Cases?" Wisnewski's recent research interests include torture and the questions that surround it as well as moral phenomenology and perception and how they can help explain moral failure. He has written numerous articles and serves as editor of the Review Journal of Political Philosophy.
  • 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., 3014 Moore Hall--Wolfendale will address "Empirical Objections to Torture." Her current research focuses on ethics and torture. Her writing credits include the book "Torture and the Military Profession," published by Palgrave Macmillan.
  • 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., 3014 Moore Hall--Vishal Garg, a WMU gradate student in philosophy, will discuss "Civil Disobedience, Torture Warrants and Necessity." Garg is co-workshop organizer and was on the organizing committee for the Third Annual WMU Graduate Philosophy Conference.
  • 4 to 6 p.m., 204 Bernhard Center--Allhoff, Davis, Wisnewski, Wolfendale and Garg will participate in the workshop's final panel. Panelists will reflect on what sorts of counter-terrorism practices are justified and what is the moral status of interrogational torture if that torture offered the only possibility of saving many lives. They also will address whether it is useful to think of ticking time-bomb cases as meaningfully informative in the discourse about the moral permissibility of interrogational torture.

More information is available on Allhoff's Web site at allhoff.org.

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Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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