Center for Applied Ethics

Increasing and enhancing ethics throughout the UW-Stout campus community.
In this Section

Our primary mission is to increase and enhance ethics across the campus community through:

  • Undergraduate Certificate
  • Workshops
  • Consultations
  • Ethics Scholar Program
  • Master's Student Thesis Advisement
  • Grants &Research Participation
  • Mentoring
  • Research Opportunities

Opportunities offered at the UW-Stout Community:

  • Ethics across the Curriculum Workshops
  • Course Development Guidance: Receive assistance with infusing ethics across the curriculum
  • Workshops on Ethical-Decision Making: Using ethics case studies, research ethics, and organizational ethics.
  • Presentations to groups or classes on ethics-oriented topics
  • Consultation with departments or individuals
  • Professional ethics literature available for review
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Applied Ethics

Philosophers' Cafe Events

What are Philosophers’ Cafés?

Philosophers’ Cafés are public forums held at local coffee shops and pubs in which community members engage in open, friendly, and respectful dialogue in a relaxed and informal setting. Meetings are led by faculty from UW-Stout and UW-Eau Claire, with topics ranging from traditional philosophical problems to pressing contemporary issues.

Who should attend?

Everyone is welcome to attend. A diversity of views and approaches is encouraged, and no formal training in philosophy (or anything else) is required – just an interest in good questions and good conversation.

Philosophers' Cafe Event Dates

Should We Still LIsten to Thriller?

Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2023 | 7:00 p.m.
Location: Brewery Nonic  
Moderator: Dr. Alexander Bozzo (Philosophy, UW-Stout)

What is the relationship between an artwork’s ethical value and its artistic value? Can works of art be worse because of their ethical flaws, or better because of their ethical merits? Can artworks even be the object of ethical evaluation in the first place—aren’t such judgments reserved for persons, actions, intentions? Such questions in the philosophy of art have reemerged in recent years: What are we to do with the comedy of Bill Cosby or Louis C.K.? Given the accusations leveled against him, should we still listen to Michael Jackson? I don’t have the answers, but I’m hoping you might. 

Dungeons & Dragons & Discourse

Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2023 | 7:30 p.m. 
Location: Brewery Nonic  
Moderator: Dr. Cody Reimer (English, UW-Stout)

The resurgence of D&D, thanks in part to popular media like Stranger Things and the rise of actual plays like Critical Role, means that more people than ever are participating in the hobby, and that new generational and cultural sensibilities are being brought to bear on the writing, design, and community of “The World’s Greatest Roleplaying Game.” We’ll talk about the discourses that shape and move how people think about, write through, design for, and play in Dungeons & Dragons.

Drawing the Line: Does Tolerance Have Limits?

Date: Wednesday, November 8, 2023 | 7:00 p.m. 
Location: Brewery Nonic  
Moderator: Dr. Adam Kunz (Political Science, UW-Eau Claire)

A core liberal value of a just society is the notion that it should be tolerant of a multitude of lifestyles, beliefs, and cultures. At the same time, justice is generally believed to demand adherence to mutually agreed upon rules that all must obey, e.g., laws and societal norms. To what extent are the concepts of tolerance and universal justice consistent with one another? How should a just society define tolerance? How far does it extend and does it have limits? To root the discussion, consider the case of Employment Division v. Smith, in which an insular minority religion ran afoul of generally applicable criminal laws. How should such cases be resolved?

Back from the Dustbin?  The Marxist Critique in the Twenty-First Century 

Date: Wednesday, December 13, 2023 | 7:00 p.m. 
Location: Brewery Nonic  
Moderator: Dr. Christopher Marshall (History, UW-Stout)

With the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Marxist critique seemed consigned to history’s dustbin.  Indeed, in 1992 Francis Fukuyama famously proclaimed liberal capitalism’s apparent victory as signifying “the end of history,” with humankind’s political and economic evolution reaching its zenith.  The 1990s saw “Third Way” ideology, embodied in leaders like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, attempt to address inequality via mechanisms of the market.  However, despite these bold claims, the last thirty years have witnessed deepening inequality, expanded corporate power, economic crises (particularly in 2008), and democratic retreat.  Given these realities, is it time to revisit the Marxist critique?  Can it provide useful perspectives and strategies for dealing with the challenges of our historical moment?   

What’s the Role of Fathers in Pregnancy?

Date: Wednesday, February 7, 2024 | 7:00 p.m. 
Location: Brewery Nonic  
Moderator: Dr. Lauren Johnsen (Communication, UW-Stout)

What is or is not appropriate for the outsider/insider within the context of maternal health? That is, what is appropriate or not for those supporting a pregnant person throughout that process? How do we know what is or is not appropriate for those involved but not pregnant, those I am calling the insider/outsider. I specifically look at fathers who are often expected to be present but silent throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery, but this discussion could broaden to include others who are engaged in supporting a pregnant person but not actively pregnant themselves. Essentially, what is the role of this outsider/insider, someone involved and expected to be present who may not know their role or boundaries?

The Trolley Problem: Beyond the Memes to Understanding Ethical Decision Making

Date: Wednesday, March 6, 2024 | 7:00 p.m. 
Location: Brewery Nonic  
Moderator: Dr. Monica Berrier (Philosophy, UW-Stout)

Perhaps you’ve seen the trolley problem memes. A cartoon stick figure is standing at a railroad junction, and he has a choice: allow a trolley to continue its path where it will surely strike 5 people on the tracks or divert the trolley onto another track where only one person is in mortal peril. Trolley problem memes have been making light of the follies of human existence for about a decade, but did you know that it originated in 1967 in a philosophical paper about abortion? In this interactive discussion, we’ll learn about the origins of the trolley problem and its significance to ethical theorizing by considering our moral intuitions on several different variations of the trolley problem that have been the subject of academic philosophical inquiry for over 50 years.

Appropriation Art: The Case Against Andy Warhol

Date: Wednesday, April 10, 2024 | 7:00 p.m. 
Location: Brewery Nonic  
Moderator: Dr. Cynthia Bland (Art History, UW-Stout) & Hon. Paul H. Anderson (retired, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice)

In a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court ruled in May of 2023 against the Andy Warhol Foundation and the artist’s use of Lynn Goldsmith’s photograph of Prince. The ruling delivered a blow to appropriation artists, determining that Warhol’s work was not transformative and of the same essential nature as the original. Retired Justice Paul H. Anderson of the Minnesota Supreme Court will provide context for the ruling, while art historian Dr. Cynthia Bland will focus on the dissent, written by Justice Kagan, which argues that Warhol’s work is “fair use” and not copyright infringement. Should the court determine the merit of artistic contributions, or should artists be set free to borrow, transform, and be inspired by original works?

Russia’s War in Ukraine

Date: Wednesday, May 8, 2024 | 7:00 p.m. 
Location: Brewery Nonic  
Moderator: Dr. Heather Fielding (English, UW-Eau Claire)

This session considers ethical questions related to Russia’s current war in Ukraine. While the fact that the war was an unprovoked gesture of imperial aggression is not in question, the broader situation poses many ethical challenges for Ukraine, for Russians, and more broadly for the international community. What is the ethical responsibility of other nations--how far should other democracies go toward defending Ukraine, which is a democracy defending itself from a strong authoritarian neighbor? Other nations could save Ukrainian lives by stepping in, at the risk of provoking a wider conflict—how are allies negotiating this situation, and are they making the right decision? Other ethical questions are posed for Russians—what is the responsibility of Russian citizens to stand up for peace when they live in an authoritarian state and risk their lives in doing so? What responsibility do international businesses bear that continue to function in Russia, or that enable the Russian state or individual wealthy Russians? Within Ukraine, what are the ethics of preventing men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country, and what rights should be afforded to conscientious objectors. Should Ukraine agree to give up territory in order to stop the war?

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