In the monthly "Ethical Inquiry" series, we examine ethical questions, highlighting a broad array of opinion from journalism, academia, and advocacy organizations. Our intent is to illuminate and explore the complexity of some of the most vexing ethical questions of our time.

Click here to explore the full "Ethical Inquiry" series.

Ethical Inquiry: January 2013

2012 Year in Review

We begin 2013 with a look back at the issues we explored in "Ethical Inquiry" in 2012. We encourage you to explore these questions and the full collection of Inquiries - and share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter, and by email.

We would particularly encourage you to look at "How Do I Choose My Commitments to Causes" (February 2012), researched and written by Leah Igdalsky '14. Published in connection with the inaugural 'DEIS Impact, we are again featuring it as a resource for 'DEIS Impact 2013, coming February 1-11. The Inquiry has been recently updated with a link to a response researched and written by Ethics Center Leadership Council member Aditya Sanyal '13.

Code of HammurabiJanuary - The Ethics of Revenge
Benjamin Beutel '12
Revenge - and attempts to regulate revenge - have played a powerful role in human history. As a force, it looms large in cultural representations from ancient myth to works of classical literature to current popular culture. In this "Ethical Inquiry" we explore the ethics of revenge, which often comes at a cost.

'DEIS Impact!February - How Should I Choose My Commitments to Causes?
Leah Igdalsky '14
Brandeis prides itself on an active commitment to social justice, which it considers "central to its mission." But it is not feasible for anyone to commit him or herself to all of these meaningful issues. In this installment of "Ethical Inquiry" we ask: How does an interested individual decide which issues to commit to - let alone how to act on those commitments?

HealthcareMarch - Do Undocumented Immigrants Have a Right to Healthcare?
Kathleen Rees '10
Do undocumented immigrants have a right to healthcare? Does a society have an ethical responsibility to promote the health of undocumented immigrants within its borders? In this "Ethical Inquiry" we explore some of the concerns and questions surrounding healthcare for undocumented immigrants, primarily focusing on the debate in the United States.

KONY 2012April - The Ethics of Advocacy: KONY 2012
Leah Igdalsky '14
With the unprecedented popularity of the 30-minute "KONY 2012" video produced by the non-profit organization Invisible Children, the video struck up debates regarding the organization, its goals, and methods. In this "Ethical Inquiry" we look at some of the questions that have been touched on in the controversy surrounding the viral video and campaign.

BathroomsMay - The Ethics of Gender-Segregated Bathrooms
Elly Kalfus '13
It is illegal to deny someone a job because of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or a number of other criteria, but segregation remains widely accepted in a very basic realm of daily life: the bathroom. Is this fair? This "Ethical Inquiry" explores the issue in terms of social policy, with a particular focus in the context of U.S. colleges and universities.

TrackJune - The Ethics of Title IX - Forty Years On
Vicky Negus '12
Title IX is the federal legislation mandating equal access for women in education. It has historically been interpreted as legislation aimed at sports, but more attention has recently been given to the role of Title IX in other aspects of education. In this "Ethical Inquiry" we explore some of the questions and controversy surrounding Title IX and its impact on high school and college sports since it was adopted in 1972.

HIV infected cellJuly - The Ethics of HIV Criminalization
Robert Mesika '12
Do HIV criminalization laws in the U.S. protect people and reduce healthcare costs, or are there unintended consequences that cause too much harm? Many of these laws criminalize the transmission of HIV/AIDS by those who fail to disclose their serostatus (HIV-status) during sex, acts of prostitution, needle exchange, or tissue donation. In this "Ethical Inquiry" we ask if the laws act to decrease people engaging in risky transmission activities, or if they only act to increase stigma and avoid testing, with no significant change in risky activities.

Seventeen Body TreatyAugust - The Ethics of Digital Photo Manipulation: Alterations in Pursuit of "Beauty"
Hailey Magee '15
Alteration of images has been occurring since the inception of photography. There are many reasons for photo manipulation, but more recently this manipulation has been in the pursuit of socially constructed notions of beauty. In this "Ethical Inquiry" we ask if it is ethical to digitally alter photos of individuals so as to make their subjects appear "more beautiful" in alignment with cultural standards of beauty - as when photos of celebrities and models are modified to increase their perceived ethical value.

Guez ScanogramSeptember - Should peacebuilders encourage oppressed people to empathize with their oppressors?
Shoshana Zeldner, MA '12, Coexistence and Conflict, Heller School for Social Policy and Management
What feelings and sensibilities should guide the stance that oppressed people take towards those who are members of the dominant community? What responses are just? What is the right response? Anger? Violence and revenge? Compassion and mindfulness? Concern for humanity? Empathy?

EnvironmentOctober - Should developing nations be held to the same environmental standards as already developed nations?
Shelby Magid '15
The question of environmental standards has been quite a dividing factor among the international community, one of the few remaining. In this "Ethical Inquiry" we explore the question of whether it is right to hold both already developed and currently developing nations to the same environmental standards. What expectations are fair for developing countries?

Tahrir SquareNovember - Revolution: Right or Wrong?
Benjamin Beutel '12
Revolution has an undeniably high cost to society, yet many believe it is the only way, or at least the best way, to right the wrongs of their society. In this "Ethical Inquiry" we explore some of the perspectives on when revolution is justifiable - if ever.

Desert RootsDecember - Recommended Books From the Year
For the December installment of the "Ethical Inquiry" we recommend some books published in 2012 on topics related to the work of the Ethics Center and by people affiliated with the Center, as well as a few selections not as closely tied to our work that have impressed members of our staff.



What do you think?

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