What We’ve Been Reading

| July 2021
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WSKG: Canada Day Muted As Nation Reckons With Residential School Legacy

July 1, 2021 was the 154th anniversary of the confederation known as the Dominion of Canada. Celebrations this year were complicated by the recent discoveries of hundreds of bodies in unmarked graves belonging to indigenous children who were killed during their time at Canada’s residential schools. These schools were operated by the Church across Canada from the 1880s until 1997, and were used to educate and indoctrinate approximately 150,000 indigenous children, 4,000 of whom went missing. Many communities cancelled their Canada Day celebrations, and some leaders, such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, suggested using the day for reflection rather than celebration.

Read more about mass atrocities and ethics of history in Ethics & International Affairs:

Choosing Among Alternative Responses to Mass Atrocity: Between the Individual and the Collective (September 2015)

The Moral Force of Indigenous Politics: Critical Liberalism and the Zapatistas by Courtney Jung (2009: Volume 23.1)

Apology, Forgiveness, and Moral Repair (2008: Volume 22.4)


Photo credit: Marco Verch via Flickr

Stat News: WHO director-general slams notion of Covid-19 vaccine booster doses given global health needs

The WHO director-general has publicly rebuked vaccine manufacturers for shifting their focus on COVID-19 vaccines to booster shots for high-income countries, stating that the focus should be on nations with little access to the initial vaccinations. Mike Ryan, head of the global health emergencies program, also offered criticisms, urging us to remember that this is a global health crisis and that the most vulnerable should be the focus of the manufacturers, not making boosters for later use.

Read more about COVID-19, vaccine ethics, and global health in Ethics & International Affairs:

Equity and Vaccine Allocation: Beyond Ethics in Prioritization to Equitable Production, Distribution, and Consumption (July 2021)

Inequality and Austerity: Our Weak Links in Countering COVID-19 (May 2020)

COVID-19 as a Mass Death Event (2021: Volume 35.1)


Governor-elect Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at the 2018 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

The Hill: Florida Gov signs law requiring students, faculty be asked their political beliefs

Effective on June 1, 2021, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed into law HB 233, requiring public universities to survey students and staff on an annual basis regarding their beliefs as a means of assessing the “viewpoint diversity” on Florida campuses. The Republican governor has taken issue with universities, claiming “We do not want them as basically hotbeds for stale ideology.” The bill does not provide specifics regarding what will be done with survey results, but DeSantis himself has suggested universities lacking “viewpoint diversity” may be penalized with budget cuts for “indoctrinating” their students.

Read more about indoctrination, education, and politics in Ethics & International Affairs

Interview with Jim Sleeper on the Future of Liberal Education (June 2015)

The Truth is Not Always as It Seems, and What That Means for Reconciliation and Justice (November 2018)

Expanding the Boundaries of Transitional Justice (2008: Volume 22.2)


Photo credit: Mike MacKenzie via Flickr

World Health Organization: WHO issues first global report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in health and six guiding principles for its design and use

The WHO has called for ethics and human rights to be at the heart of AI design, as a means of ensuring harm reduction. Cautioning against overestimating the benefits AI can bring to the medical and public health fields, the WHO emphasizes the ways in which this technology can subordinate the rights of patients and communities if used maliciously. Careful design that reflects the diversity of socio-economic and healthcare settings will remain crucial in the ethical development of these technologies.

Read more about artificial intelligence, global health, and human rights in Ethics & International Affairs:

Artificial Intelligence: Power to the People (2019: Volume 33.2)

The Future Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Humans and Human Rights (2019: Volume 33.2)

Humor, Ethics, and Dignity: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (2019: 33.1)

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