#TBOE (The Beginnings Of Ethics, March 19, 2017):
Do you live without regrets? Do you spontaneously follow rules? How did we first know if something is right or wrong? Does moral reasoning always progress in stages? Is this process always culture-relative? Can ethics, then, ever be universal? Must all ethical dualities be collapsed? Does bad become good when slaves become masters? Does our resentment for those with power give us satisfaction? Can we buy goodness? Does morality need faith? Must we behave decently even if existence is absurd? Is the individual always subordinated to the social? If human beings are self centred, then how do empathy, compassion or ‘commitment’ arise? Does self interest precede conventional morality? Can we sacrifice for the (contemporaneous) Other just as we do for our ‘own’ future other? Can moral law be like a law of nature? Is efficiency the principal ethic? Can the requirement of minimal liberty be Pareto inferior? Does ethicality primarily comprise in taking into account the spontaneity and the resistance of the Other? Who/what is the Other? Will everything be perfect in the end? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from social psychology (Prof. Janak Pandey, ex-University of Allahabad, Allahabad), philosophy (Prof. Jules Simon, the University of Texas at El Paso, Texas), & economics (Prof. Sreenivasan Subramanian, ex-Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), Chennai).
SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TBOE show.
Prof. Janak Pandey (social psychology) is a National Fellow of Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) in affiliation with the Centre of Behavioural & Cognitive Sciences (CBCS), University of Allahabad. Prof. Pandey received his various degrees in Psychology from Ranchi University (B.A. (Honors), 1962), Patna University (M.A., 1964) and Kansas State University (Ph.D., 1974). His key research areas are social and cultural psychology with focus on social motivation, pro-social behaviour, environmental stressors, and contemporary social issues. He has served in academic positions within Psychology Departments at various universities in India (Ranchi, Patna, Allahabad, IIT Kanpur) and USA (Manitoba, Wake Forest, East West Centre, Hawaii). He has vast experience of establishing institutions and developing teaching and research programs through the various administrative positions he has held (Head at CBCS, First Vice Chancellor at Central University of Bihar, & the Director at GB Pant Institute of Social Sciences). Prof. Pandey is a Fellow of International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP), the Honorary Fellow of International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology, and the Fellow of National Academy of Psychology. He has been awarded Fulbright Fellowship (1964), Senior Commonwealth Fellowship (1978), and VKRV Rao Award in Psychology (1989), among others. He has published 100s of research papers in journals such as European Journal of Social Psychology, & International Journal of Psychology. He has edited two ICSSR reviews of psychological research in India (‘Psychology in India: State-of-the-Art’). He is also co-editor of the ‘Handbook of Cross-Cultural Psychology’ (2e) and ‘Psychology Education and Training: A global Perspective’. He has also co-edited two volumes of ‘Advances in Cognitive Science’.
Prof. Jules Simon (philosophy) is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Texas, USA. As a philosopher, he writes, teaches, and lectures in the areas of phenomenology, ethical theory, aesthetics, and Jewish philosophy. He received his B.A. from Northwestern University (1979), an Advanced Study from Universität Tübingen (Germany), & his Ph.D. from Temple University (1994). He has published dozens of articles, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, and book reviews. Some of his published works in philosophy include a monograph, titled ‘Art and Responsibility: A Phenomenology of the Diverging Paths of Rosenzweig and Heidegger’; two books focusing on ethics and genocide, ‘The Double Binds of Ethics after the Holocaust: Salvaging the Fragments’ and ‘History, Religion, and Meaning: American Reflections on the Holocaust and Israel’, and a co-edited Festschrift for John Haddox, ‘Thought and Social Engagement in the Mexican-American Philosophy of John H. Haddox: A Collection of Critical Appreciations’. He has presented lectures in countries across the globe, such as Spain, France, and USA. During Spring 2017, he has been a Research Fellow at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute for Advanced Study (JNU). He has served as guest professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro in Mexico (2010) and at the University of Tübingen in Germany (2005). He is Scientific Director for the Center for Science, Technology, Ethics and Policy (CSTEP), a center of ethical inquiry that explores the ethical and political implications of existing and newly emerging phenomena in science and technology. He also designed and built a house, is co-writing a children’s book about feeding hungry holy cows in India, and studies and practices yoga, meditation, and yogic philosophy.
Prof. Sreenivasan Subramanian (economics) is a former Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) National Fellow and a former professor of the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), Chennai. He is also an elected Fellow (2004-2009) of the Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA). He received his B.A. in Economics (1974) from Loyola College, University of Madras. He then went on to get his Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (1976) from IIM-Ahmedabad followed by a M.Sc. in Economics (1981) from London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). His research has been focused on measurement and other aspects of poverty, inequality, and demography, and on topics in collective choice theory, welfare economics, and development economics. His work has been published in journals such as Journal of Development Economics, Economics and Philosophy, Social Choice and Welfare, and Theory and Decision. He is the author or editor of eight books, including ‘The Poverty Line’ (2012) and ‘Economic Offences: A Compendium of Crimes in Prose and Verse’ (2013). Prof. Subramanian is one of three lead editors of two special issues (2006 & 2010) of Journal of Human Development. He is also a member of the editorial board of ‘Contemporary Issues and Ideas in Social Sciences’ & associate editor of ‘Journal of Human Development’. He has been the recipient (along with his co-author) of the 2001 Dudley Seers Memorial Prize awarded to the best article published in the Journal of Development Studies. He was a member of the Commission on Global Poverty, appointed by the World Bank and chaired by the late Sir Anthony Atkinson (2015-2016). However, of all his publications, the one that affords him the greatest satisfaction is a story which appeared in the Sherlock Holmes Journal.
Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.
#TBOE mentions: Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Herbert Spencer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Max Scheler, Jean Piaget, Bernard Williams, Albert Camus, Lawrence Kohlberg, John Rawls, Emmanuel Levinas, Derek Parfit, & Amartya Sen, among others.