Effective Altruism and Its Critics: Dignity, Ethics, and a More Just World (Prof. Howard Pickett)

2 more students are sought for a project on “Effective Altruism and Its Critics: Dignity, Ethics, and a More Just World” with Prof. Howard Pickett that will begin on 6/1/2024 and last for 8 weeks

Project Description:

“Effective Altruism and Its Critics” will give SRS participants an opportunity to read about, discuss, and research the main debates related to the increasingly popular effective altruism (EA) movement. We will examine the work of effective altruists and their critics (including Kantians, contractualists, and others) both charitably (looking for their best insights) and critically (looking for the limitations of their arguments). In other words, we will neither uncritically BASH nor uncritically PRAISE Effective Altruism. Each SRS student will be given the opportunity to research a particular philosophical issue related to EA and also apply our thinking about EA (and its alternative ethical frameworks) to a social problem that matters to YOU! By participating, you will gain a better understanding not only of EA but also, more broadly, of some of the most important debates in ethical theory and, last but not least, some of the most promising ways of adressing one of our world’s most pressing social problems.

Prerequisites

Ideally, applicants will have some familiarity with ethics and with addressing social problems in respectful ways (e.g., through courses in POV or PHIL). However, applicants with background in Effective Altruism or ethics, even without coursework in POV or PHIL, will also be considered.

Special Comments

Project Information

Estimated Start Date: 6/1/2024

Estimated End Date: 7/26/2024

Maximum number of students sought: 2

Contact Information: Prof. Howard Pickett (Picketthy@wlu.edu)

Tracing trends of cynicism and distrust in global survey data (Prof. Jonathan Eastwood)

3 students are sought for a project on “Tracing trends of cynicism and distrust in global survey data” with Prof. Jonathan Eastwood that will begin on 6/10/2024 and last for 10 weeks

Project Description:

I am beginning a new project on cynicism, people’s loss of faith in each other. A cynic, as I use the term, is someone who expects that others are out just for themselves (which, experimental evidence suggests, is generally not true of most people). Societies vary in how widespread such views and expectations are, and they matter because our own cooperation is often conditional on what we expect of others. As such, pervasive cynicism — even when sometimes justified by the behavior of some among us — potentially endangers common projects. As part of my research, and beginning this summer, I intend empirically to trace trends in cynicism and distrust, across the United States and internationally, by making use of publicly available survey data (GSS, ANES, WVS, and other sources). This aspect of the project is basically descriptive. When, where, and for whom, we’ll ask, did cynicism and distrust begin to grow? Who, if anyone, seems resistant to these trends? Are there clear spatial, temporal, and/or network patterns in global cynicism? What are some of the key predictors of distrust and cynicism and how consistently are they predictive across time and space? This summer, I hope to work with a team of 2-3 student researchers to explore some of these questions.

Prerequisites

Applicants should have completed social science coursework and previous R experience, preferably including exposure to the tidyverse suite of packages. You don’t need to be an R expert, but I won’t have time to teach you basics from the ground up, and you need to be enthusiastic about developing these skills as you’ll send most of your research time using them. You need to be comfortable working independently, detail-oriented and conscientious, and to know when to ask for feedback and guidance. If you have questions about your qualifications, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with an email (eastwoodj@wlu.edu).

Special Comments

Start date is flexible and something we can work out together, and the date I listed here is very provisional. I do expect student researchers to be on campus for the majority of the weeks in which we’ll be working together. We’ll begin the summer with a few days of R review and reading some key relevant literature. But most weeks will involve 5 days of data work. The team will meet with me most days to check in but will spend most of the day working independently with survey data, focusing on tasks we establish together during our meeting. We will have weekly gelato sessions to take stock of how our week’s work relates to our broader goals for the summer. Previous SRS students who have worked with me on projects like this seem to have developed strong data wrangling, visualization, and exploratory modeling skills. This summer will also include coverage of some challenges in measurement and in working with complex survey data.

Project Information

Estimated Start Date: 6/10/2024

Estimated End Date: 8/16/2024

Maximum number of students sought: 3

Contact Information: Prof. Jonathan Eastwood (eastwoodj@wlu.edu)

Effective Altruism and Its Critics: Dignity, Ethics, and a More Just World (Prof. Howard Pickett)

3 students are sought for a project on “Effective Altruism and Its Critics: Dignity, Ethics, and a More Just World” with Prof. Howard Pickett that will begin on 6/1/2024 and last for 8 weeks

Project Description:

“Effective Altruism and Its Critics” will give SRS participants an opportunity to read about, discuss, and research the main debates related to the increasingly popular effective altruism (EA) movement. We will examine the work of effective altruists and their critics (including Kantians, contractualists, and others) both charitably (looking for their best insights) and critically (looking for the limitations of their arguments). In other words, we will neither uncritically BASH nor uncritically PRAISE Effective Altruism. Each SRS student will be given the opportunity to research a particular philosophical issue related to EA and also apply our thinking about EA (and its alternative ethical frameworks) to a social problem that matters to YOU! By participating, you will gain a better understanding not only of EA but also, more broadly, of some of the most important debates in ethical theory and, last but not least, some of the most promising ways of adressing one of our world’s most pressing social problems.

Prerequisites

Ideally, applicants will have some familiarity with ethics and with addressing social problems in respectful ways (e.g., through courses in POV or PHIL). However, applicants with background in Effective Altruism or ethics, even without coursework in POV or PHIL, will also be considered.

Special Comments

Project Information

Estimated Start Date: 6/1/2024

Estimated End Date: 7/26/2024

Maximum number of students sought: 3

Contact Information: Prof. Howard Pickett (Picketthy@wlu.edu)