Category Archives: 2001

Making Science Right Institute

In June 2001 the Institute initiated a summer institute for high-school science teachers wishing to improve the ethics content of their courses. The institute was made possible by a grant from the Ohio Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

2001 June 26-29
MAKING SCIENCE RIGHT

a workshop for Ohio high-school teachers

introduction

INTRODUCTION

Science has a history, a sociology, and a set of values. But most students, taught only the facts and left to figure out the rest for themselves, graduate with little grasp of the societal forces that shape science, or of the influence of science on society.

This is becoming increasingly problematic as state proficiency examinations put more emphasis on an understanding of the nature and history of science. Making Science Right will provide a select group of teachers a chance to address this problem while earning graduate humanities credit from Ohio University.

Participants will gain a solid grounding in theoretical and applied ethics; hands-on experience in the development of ethical content for the science curriculum; and an opportunity to participate in the development of a state-wide resource repository for science teachers planning to incorporate ethical instruction into their teaching.

Participants can expect to take with them: a solid vocabulary for communicating to their students the ethical implications of scientific developments and a toolkit for teaching students to make reasoned and defensible choices about technological developments and scientific claims.

JUST THE FACTS

  Who:        Active Ohio HS Science Teachers
              (participation limited to 20)

  Where:      Ohio University Athens Campus

  When:       June 26 - 29, 2001

  Tuition:    $204.12

  What:       2 months at-home resource
                development
              1-day (optional) evaluation meeting
              3 hours graduate credit
              Food, lodging, and materials
              provided
              $54 travel grant

  Deadline:   June 11, 2001

  Details:    740 593 9802
              ethics@ohio.edu
              www.ohio.edu/ethics

THE MAKING SCIENCE RIGHT TEAM

Arthur Zucker    (applied ethics, medical ethics,
                  bioethics)
                  Director, Institute for Applied
                  and Professional Ethics

Donald Borchert  (ethical theory)
                  Chair, Department of Philosophy

Richard Milter   (business & professional ethics)
                  Director, MBA Without Bounds

Ralph Martin     (science education)
                  Professor of Education

David Wight      (bioethics)
                  Director, Edison Biotechnology
                  Institute

Gary Meyer       (business ethics, copyright)
                  Assistant Vice President for
                  Economic and Technical
                  Development
Kathleen
Evans-Romaine    (technical support)
                  Assistant Director,
                  Institute for Applied and
                  Professional Ethics

SCHEDULE

Day 1, Tuesday, June 26: INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS

Ethical theory, applied ethics, case studies and other methods
(Zucker, Borchert)

Day 2, Wednesday, June 27: SCIENCE & ETHICS

Pseudo-science & science, scientific fraud, & other values issues
(Zucker, Martin)

Day 3, Thursday, June 28: SCIENCE & BUSINESS

Biotechnology, business research, copyrighting discoveries, social responsibility
(includes visit to Edison Biotechnology Laboratories)
(Zucker, Wight, Meyer)

Day 4, Friday, June 29: CURRENT QUANDARIES

Animal rights, environmental ethics, other specific areas of interest, institute web resources & database access
(Zucker, Martin, Evans-Romaine)

July – August: PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT

Participants collaboratively develop programs for adding or improving ethics content in their curricula. Course credit assigned

(Optional) January 27, 2002 FOLLOW-UP CONFERENCE

Day-long conference for participants who have implemented or attempted to implement changes based on the Making Science Right institute.

OVERVIEW

Following the model of Ohio University’s 10-year-old “ethics modules” program, Making Science Right instructors provide participants basic theoretical concepts and skills, hone those skills on a few practical examples, then step back and function as a resource while participants create content and forge materials tailored to their goals and their needs.

The program begins with a four-day institute, during which participants will explore ethical theory and applied ethics methods. Participants then solidify and build on their understanding of the material by considering real-life ethical dilemmas. This phase of the institute includes a visit to the Edison Biotechnology Laboratory. As each topic is covered, participants will discuss options for incorporating the material into their curricula.

Following the on-campus portion of the insti-tute, participants will spend two months deve-loping materials for incorporation into their teaching. At the end of August, participants will submit these materials for course credit.

The Institute will provide an interactive website for participants to share ideas, compare notes and discuss classroom experiences in implementing the new content. The website databases will form the core of a state-wide ethics and science-history education resource repository for HS teachers.

Finally, in January 2002 participants will gather in Athens to review the summer institute, to compare notes and to share experiences.

LOCATION

Athens is located in southeast Ohio, in the western foothills of the Appalachian mountains. More information about the city and the area is available at: http://www.athensohio.com/.

Each participant in Making Science Right receives a $54 travel grant. Participants how attend the optional conference in January receive an additional $54 grant.

Driving distances to Athens (US miles):

Parkersburg: 40 Columbus: 70
Dayton: 150 Cincinnati: 170
Pittsburgh: 200 Cleveland: 220

Driving directions are available at http://www.ohiou.edu/athens/travel.html.

TRAVEL

Bus service is available to and from the Columbus airport. For details, see:http://www.ohiou.edu/about/new/transport.html.

Food and lodging will be provided to participants at no cost. Participants are also free to make their own arrangements, if they so desire.

CONTACT

For further information, please contact conference coordinator Kathleen Evans-Romaine at ethics@ohio.edu or 740 593 9802.

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Debating Sports Doping

sports_debateMiller Brown & Mark Holowchak
January 16th, 2001, 12:00 am to 9:00 pm
Anderson Auditorium

Two prominent sports philosophers debate each other and audience members on the issue of legalizing or banning performance drugs.
Dr. W. Miller Brown is a sports philosopher and dean of faculty at Trinity College. Visiting Ohio University professor Mark Holowchak writes on sport- and classic philosophy.

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Privacy & Security in the Age of The Net

isecurityPanel discussion
February 20th, 2001, 8:00 to 10:00 pm
Morton Hall 235

CRIME-FIGHTING ON THE INTERNET
Three leading experts examine the difficulties in keeping up with the bad guys’ abuse of new technologies. FBI Special Counsel for Electronic Surveillance Matters Alan McDonald argues why law enforcement agencies need the ability to use electronic surveillance equipment to monitor traffic on the Internet. Ohio State University Law School faculty member Peter Swire, an Internet privacy advocate, stresses the need for restraint and oversight of agencies employing such technology. Bernard Debatin discusses the ethical and moral dimensions of Internet law enforcement and of electronic surveillance in general Debatin, a professor at the University of Leipzig (Germany), is a visiting lecturer in the Ohio University Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics.

ALAN McDONALD
Alan McDonald is Special Counsel for Electronic Surveillance Matters, Laboratory Division, at FBI Headquarters. For the last ten years, he has worked on the legal and policy aspects of issues related to advanced communications networks as they relate to U.S. Electronic surveillance. Prior to that time, he was assigned for five years to the FBI’s Legal Counsel Division at FBI Headquarters, where he specialized in electronic surveillance law, as well as law and policy regarding other sensitive investigative techniques.

During 1993/94, Mr. McDonald was the FBI/Government attorney member of a four-member FBI team dedicated to preserving governmental electronic surveillance capabilities in the United States in light of advanced telecommunications technologies. The resulting landmark Federal legislation that was enacted in October, 1994 — the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) — is considered of critical importance by law-enforcement and prosecutorial authorities. In 1995, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno presented Mr. McDonald with the John Marshall Award for Legislation for his role in the enactment of CALEA.

Mr. McDonald has spoken at numerous U.S. Telecommunications carrier meetings and privacy-related seminars, and he has provided numerous briefings for Congressional staff regarding electronic surveillance, encryption, and CALEA matters.

Mr. McDonald received his law degree from the University of Louisville, and he has been a Special Agent of the FBI for 26 years.

PETER SWIRE
From March 1999 until January 2001, Peter Swire served as the Clinton Administration’s Chief Counselor for Privacy, in the United States Office of Management and Budget. In early January, Peter returned to his position as Professor of Law at the Ohio State University College of Law. Peter is now teaching two courses on privacy and the law of cyberspace. Peter was featured in a January 17 Washington Post article about the transition to life after working in the Administration, at washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3204-2001Jan16.html. USA Today gave a profile of Peter’s work at www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/cti036.htm.

With a background in both banking regulation and cyberspace, much of Peter’s work addresses issues of cyberbanking and financial privacy. In June, 1997, Peter was selected as an Ameritech Faculty Fellow to conduct research on “The Role of Law in Assuring Financial Privacy.”

From December 1998 until late January 1999, Peter acted as a consultant to the Department of Commerce. He led a U.S. government team in visits to France, England, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands, meeting with public- and private-sector leaders on privacy issues.

In early 1998, Peter became editor of Cyberspace Law Abstracts (CLA), a monthly publication that provides synopses of new scholarship concerning cyberspace, as well as related conference and professional announcements.

From 1992-94 Peter worked on the idea of “Public Feedback Regulation” as an organizing theme for how the Internet could enhance political participation and address some important market failures. This research was never published, but is discussed in some detail in David Brin’s fascinating 1998 book “The Transparent Society,” where the author essentially argues that technology has made privacy impossible and our best hope is to open up access to the databases to a broader array of citizens.

BERNHARD DEBATIN
Bernhard Debatin, Professor of public communication and media ethics at the University of Leipzig, Germany, is spending 2000/01 as a visiting professor at Ohio University’s Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics. Dr. Debatin specializes in internet-communication and media ethics. He received his doctorate from the Technical University of Berlin in 1994.

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Unfinished Business

Second Chance Foundation
March 29th, 2001, 4:00 to 5:00 pm
Irvine Hall 194

“Unfinished Business,” a play advocating organ donation, co-sponsored with the Second Chance Foundation and the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Student Council.


Community Arts & Activism Downunder

burke_eventElisabeth Burke
April 26th, 2001, 8:00 to 9:00 pm
Gordy Hall 311

Director and activist Elisabeth Burke discusses ethical dilemmas encountered during the staging of an new setting of “Dante’s Inferno” in the Italian-Australian immigrant community of Wollangong, and shares with the audience a number of community-building theater exercises.

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Biennial Student Conference on Applied Ethics

April 28th, 2001, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Copeland Hall

Every other year Ohio University hosts an international student conference on applied ethics. Several papers from the 2001 conference are available here.


The Ethics of Tolerance

Michael Bugeja, Professor of Journalism, and
Erek Perry, Special Presidential Assistant for Diversity
October 9th, 2001, 7:00 to 8:30 pm
Copeland Hall, Room 001

Based on approaches from Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, this seminar for Ohio University students, faculty, and staff, Michael Bugeja and Erek Perry use case studies to provide an overview of the concept of tolerance, in particular as regards increasing sensitivity toward people of color and respect for everyone at the work place.

More details are available from the presenter’s website: oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~bugeja.

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America at a Crossroads: Morality & American Foreign Policy in the 21st Century

crossroads_1Part One: Terrorism: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
October 22nd, 2001, 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Irvine 194

Panel Discussion

  • Steve Hayes, Classics
  • Ken Freed, Journalism
  • Steve Rubenstein, Athropology
  • Jack Arbuthnot, Psychology

Summaries of presenations

Steve Hays: As a classical humanist I am interested in human values and reasoning as attested to and preserved in early Western–particularly Greek–literature.

The earliest Greek literary texts, those of Homer and Hesiod, are concerned with social discontent, disputes, and angry responses to perceived injustices. Two important and competing principles emerge from the earliest Western political thinking, as attested in these texts.

  1. Leaders must seek wise and just solutions. They must not use their leadership to foolishly indulge their own self-interest. If leaders fail to make just decisions, they will inevitably bring harm on their society and eventually assure their own overthrow. Even the kings of the gods are not immune from this principle. Justice turns out to have greater standing in the universe than does the power of even the greatest gods.
  2. Victims of injustice and unjust leadership should realize the impossibility of completely fixing the past. Wrongs and injuries can never be perfectly redressed. Victims of injustice can, of course, persist in demanding greater and greater harm to the leadership that has wronged them, but if they do, they are likely to discover at the end of the day that the harm they have brought to the existing power structure has also brought irreparable harm to them or those they love.

These two principles stand, of course, in dynamic tension. The former tends to progress and instability; the latter tends to an unprogressive maintenance of the status quo. The early Greek view (particularly the Homeric view) encourages a commonsensical balancing of the two competing principles. For several centuries of early Greek history, a serious recognition of the validity of both principles produced slow but steady political progress, culminating in the first democracies.

In our current situation these two long-standing principles would suggest the following demands:

  1. Countries with power (most obviously the U.S.) must not dismiss complaints of injustice by Islamic countries just because we think we have superior power. The deepest principles of our own culture warn us that if we use our power unjustly our own culture will suffer, and we will eventually fall–and rightly so.
  2. Peoples who believe they have been treated unjustly (in this case various Islamic peoples) should certainly complain and remonstrate, and their anger is understandable. Nonetheless, if their anger takes the form of bringing harm against the power structure, they may well discover that surprisingly great and unexpected harm will come to them from their actions. The point here is not the pragmatically obvious one–that they might prove weaker than the power structure and be punished by the power structure–, but the more subtle one: that they may be more connected to the power structure than they realize and that the harm they cause to the power structure may also harm the people and values they hold dearest.

Recognition of this latter principle has in recent history moderated the actions of many groups (blacks, women, gays, …) who have suffered longstanding and serious injustices. These groups have insistently demanded justice, but they have not (in general) made their demands violent. They have not, that is, turned to violence to try to topple the unjust power structure, in which they probably have a greater stake than might be immediately obvious.

In practical terms, the American citizenry will (and should) regard attempts to destabilize the American (and by extension) the Western political and economic system as reckless and extraordinarily dangerous. The United States government has, of course, responded militarily to the attacks on its sovereign territory. That much is inevitable and a given.

The competing principle, however, which the American citizenry should certainly not neglect, is that we must renew our determination to set injustices right. If Islamic peoples have indeed been treated unjustly, then we must determine to redress those wrongs–much as we have worked (though admittedly too slowly and imperfectly) to redress the historic wrongs done to blacks, women, gays, and others.

Steven L. Rubenstein: As a graduate student in anthropology, I moved to Ecuador in Autumn, 1988, in order to begin my dissertation research on Shuar shamanism. The Shuar are a group of about 40,000 people indigenous to the Ecuadorian Amazon. Until recently, Shuar subsisted on hunting and gardening and lived in dispersed homesteads, headed by a senior warrior and linked to one through the loosest of kin-ties. They thus constituted a functioning society of the sort political theorists sometimes dream, one with neither centralized leadership nor political hierarchies. The former lack of institutionalized group divisions, boundaries, or identity is signaled by the fact that “shuar” means “person” or “people.”

The Shuar were also notorious warriors, famous for constant feuding and for shrinking the heads of neighboring Indians. This practice peaked during the early years of the 20th century, as Euro-Ecuadorians (who were never targets of head-hunting, but rather constituted a market for shrunken heads) from the highlands began settling in the area and missionaries began teaching and preaching to Shuar. Today most Shuar belong to the Shuar Federation (Federación Interprovincial de Centros Shuar), an organization with a hierarchical structure, democratically elected leadership, and administrative jurisdiction over a bounded territory, that was established in 1964.

Although the formation of the Shuar Federation coincided with a decline in feuding and head-hunting, Shuar continue to see violence as something that is ever-present, and not contained or containable by hierarchical institutions. This experience of violence is what led me to study shamanism. Just as we believe in microbes, which can only be seen by people trained to use the proper equipment, Shuar believe in things they call tsentsak (which they translate as “darts”) that only shamans can see. We believe that microbes can be manipulated to harm others, through biological warfare – but we also believe that they act on their own, and that illness usually occurs independent of any human agency. Shuar, however, believe that tsentsak act only through human agency, and that all such illness is actually the result of an intentional act of violence. People will thus explain illness in terms of pre-existing tensions or conflicts between the victim and others, and illness could provoke some act of vengeance. Shuar thus link physical disease to social un-ease.

Such beliefs seem to promote violence, and anthropologists have proposed a number of theories to explain how such violence functions. One theory is that it functions as a leveling-mechanism: since no one ever has direct proof that someone is a harming shaman, accusations are based on other grounds – for example, the accused is one who has been accruing wealth or political power. Another theory is that such beliefs ironically act to suppress violence, for these beliefs express people’s awareness that violence is something that can all too easily escalate out of control. During my years among the Shuar I spoke to numerous people who told me stories of the anguish and suffering, and the social and geographic dislocation, caused by feuding. Such knowledge provided people with a powerful incentive to learn to live with, rather than act on, their anger. People had learned to live with terror without being constantly terrorized.

I got a taste of this one day while walking with a friend through the forest. He pointed to a tree and explained that one could make a powerful poison by scraping the bark. As we passed it, we saw that someone had indeed recently scraped some of the bark away. I tasted this strange way of living with terror in a more direct way when I began interviewing people in different households. Whenever someone learned that I was about to visit the household of one of their enemies, they warned me not to eat the food. “They will poison you,” they said. Like the Shuar around me, I knew that it was therefore all the more important to eat what was offered, as a sign of friendship. But, like the Shuar around me, I learned to wait for my host to eat as well.

Living under these conditions it might surprise you that it was only in Ecuador that, for the first time in my life, I felt really safe. As a child in the New York area I used to ask teachers what the yellow signs with black triangles meant; they explained to me that the basement of the school was a fallout shelter, but to forget about it since nothing would save us in a nuclear war. I remember playing baseball at summer camp, and discussing with the other boys our chances of surviving to adulthood. We concluded that the odds were slim. Even in graduate school there were one or two moments when, thinking I heard something, I felt a pang of fear that within a couple of seconds I and everyone I knew would be incinerated. I did not fantasize or even think about nuclear war often. Just as Shuar had learned to live with shamanism, I had learned to live with the Cold War. Nevertheless, it was only when I moved to the upper Amazon that I felt this weight lift; it was only as I looked around me, at the hills and forests, that I realized that even if there were a nuclear war, I was finally in a place that would never be bombed.

One of the ironies of the Cold War was that in spite of – and some believe, precisely because of – the massive nuclear build up and terror of nuclear war, there was never any actual violent conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. But another irony of the Cold War is that it led to and legitimized a good deal of violent conflict between the Superpowers and much weaker countries around the world. I thus soon discovered that shamanism was not the only source of terror in Ecuador – people there were as scared of a war between Ecuador and the United States as I was of a war between the United States and the Soviet Union! At first this fear seemed absurd to me. I could not believe that my country would attack theirs. Then they mentioned the U.S. invasion of Panama, the U.S. support of the contras in Nicaragua, and of coups in Guatemala and Chile, and the U.S. occupation of the Dominican Republic. I shuddered, and realized that for them the threat of a U.S. invasion was far more real than the possibility of a Soviet first strike. From their perspective, the invasion of Panama was not only an attack on Panama; it was an act of aggression, through the demonstration of power and the will to use it, on all of Latin America. And as I thought about how the terror of the cold-war had affected U.S. politics – from McCarthyism to, well, our support of the contras and coups in Guatemala and Chile – I realized that the real danger with terror was not the threat of physical violence itself, but precisely the fear of that violence as a way of life.

I have identified my appreciation of terror in the upper Amazon with my sense of terror in New York, and indeed I have come to suspect that terror may be a fundamental part of the human condition. Nevertheless, I think there is a crucial difference between the terror Shuar feel in the Amazon and terror I felt in New York. On the one hand, Shuar shamanism, conceived of as a leveling-mechanism, brings down the wealthy whereas nuclear warfare threatens everyone. On the other hand, everyone comes to participate in Shuar violence as feuding escalates, whereas nuclear warfare and its conventional regional proxies (in Guatemala and Chile, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan) is monopolized by superpowers. In both of these comparisons, the difference that makes a difference is the one between an egalitarian acephalous society and a stratified state.

It is the second kind of terror, this terror that is a function of modern states, especially my own, that concerns me most. For I have come to believe that modern states necessarily rely on and cultivate such terror as props to their legitimacy. Weber defined the modern state as a ruling organization that “successfully upholds the claim to the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force” in the enforcement of order “within a given territorial area…” How do we justify agents of the state walking and driving around our neighborhoods while carrying fire-arms? How do we justify entering into someone’s home to search their possessions? How do we justify diverting a significant percentage of the nation’s resources to pay for expensive weapons? How do we justify the manufacture and maintenance of enough nuclear weapons to destroy much of the planet? We can justify these things only if we are afraid of something else. Ironically, it is one of the defining features of the state, the territorial boundary, that organizes much of this fear. For as long as we see ourselves contained by a boundary, we are afraid of that boundary being penetrated – on land and sea by refugees and immigrants, and in the air by nuclear missiles and hijacked planes. And more ironic still, we defend ourselves in ways that often terrorize people beyond our borders. At the end of the cold war some naive Americans thought that we could finally afford to cut back the military to pre-war levels. Instead, we sought out new wars and new enemies, like drugs and “terrorism.” The rhetoric of the Cold War was for Americans to be afraid of the Soviet Union. In fact, I think we were all terrified by a situation that had been created by, and that benefitted, both the United States and the U.S.S.R.

I have not mentioned the attack on September 11th, Al-Qaeda, or bin Laden yet, and in fact I have little to say about them for I am not an expert in terrorism as such or on the Middle East or Central Asia. Much has been written about the slipperiness of the term “terrorist,” how one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom-fighter. It is indeed a slippery term, but it has one useful quality: it identifies a particular person who has committed a particular act, whatever our judgement of the act or the person may be. Whoever orchestrated the attack on September 11, regardless of their motives or objectives, did a horrible thing and I wish we could find an effective means to find those people and deal with them appropriately.

I do not believe that our current course of action will accomplish this. But I do think it will accomplish something else. And this “something else” brings me back to my reflections on terror in New York during the Cold War.

For our current course of action is not a war on terrorists, it is a war on “terrorism.” And I find “terrorism” a very slippery term indeed. Although it links fighting terrorists with fighting terror, I believe that it will encourage more of both. In order to fight this war we have already turned to some of the same tactics as terrorists, bombing civilians as a way of attacking their leaders. In the defense of freedom our government has already begun rolling back civil rights. And in order to mobilize support for the war on terrorism, the media have constantly replayed images of the attack and selective images of our air forces’ “precision” bombing, while struggling to construct some story about third world anger towards and resentment of the United States that is not overtly racist or imperialist. The government and the media present this as a “new” war, but I wonder whether people outside of the world, especially in countries that we have invaded or bombed in recent years, see anything at all new here.

The day of the attack one student remarked to me that the world had changed. Other students told me that for the first time in their lives they feel vulnerable — and for the past six weeks the country has been in a state of emergency that reminds us daily just how vulnerable we are. At the same time civic and political leaders tell us that the nation has never been stronger, and it is this fact, that the nation is strongest when it feels most vulnerable, that gives me pause. Some people have compared the attack on September 11 to the attack on Pearl Harbor. If anything, it reminds me more of the attack on the U.S.S. Maine in 1898. A military court concluded that the attack, which cost 260 sailors their lives, was caused by an unknown external explosion. The result was a war with Spain that left the United States in control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Phillippines, and which signaled the dawn of the American Century. Since that time not a decade has gone by without some U.S. military action. And as we have become more and more powerful, we have become more and more afraid.

On the eve of World War II Walter Benjamin wrote that “the tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the current ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule.” He is right. Those years in which some of us felt invulnerable, or at least safe, are the exception. But this does not make that experience meaningless; in fact, it is only because of short periods when we can delude ourselves into feeling that the state ensures our safety that we could ever delude ourselves further into believing that it is the state of emergency which is the exception.

I have not tried to develop a coherent argument; I can only hope to offer some reflections that might suggest different perspectives on current events. I admit that for the past ten years I too have felt pretty safe. But for me the shock of September 11 was not the shock of the new but of the old, as I saw on television an image that for me was but a small taste of my worst nightmares in the 1970s and 1980s. And as those nightmares came back to me, I shuddered: if we retaliated against the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 by bombing Tripoli, how will we retaliate against this? And how will they retaliate against our retaliation? In this terrible, terrifying situation, issues of guilt and blame become secondary. During the cold war I was afraid of an escalation of conflict that would turn everything and everyone I knew into radioactive rubble. If that happens, it does not matter who started it.

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America at a Crossroads: Morality & American Foreign Policy in the 21st Century

crossroads_2Part Two: Moral and Political Reform and Stability: Militarism, Pacifism, or Nonviolence?
October 29th, 2001, 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Irvine 194

Panel Discussion

  • Charles Overby, Engineering
  • George Weckman, Philosophy
  • Al Eckes, History

Summaries of Presentations

George Weckman: Current events are motivated by religious concerns and dynamics. We miss that in America where religion is privatized and spiritualized. Others take their politics and economics religiously. Terror is in the eyes of the beholder. Religions prvide people with ways of understanding the world which are incredible to outsiders and contrary to what seems to be “the facts.” Just as religions can provide pictures and ideas of consolation in the face of tragedy, so religions also can encourage and inspire reckless action in the face of insuperable power. Some of this can be seen in religious texts. But it’s not what the texts literally or historically mean which dominates behavior, but the special ways in which they are interpreted. Current turmoil is produced by readings of texts and life in terms of battle warfare between God and Satan, good people and bad. Violence in the mythic battles exhibits a violence which believers can transfer to their own situations and behavior.

Al Eckes: The tragic events of September 11 remind us that we live in a harsh and brutal world in which evil forces wage war again innocent civilians. In such circumstances military action can be justified under both international law B Article 51 of the United Nations Charter B and the inherent right of nations to defend themselves. The terrorists challenge the authority of the United Nations, seek to topple the international economic and financial system, and attempt to spread chaos and terror. In such circumstances, pacifism and nonviolence have little relevance. Efforts to promote economic growth may have a long-term impact in undercutting the appeal of terrorism, but there seems no responsible alternative to use of military force.


America at a Crossroads: Morality & American Foreign Policy in the 21st Century

crossroads_3Part Three: American Involvement in the Global Community in the 21st Century
November 1st, 2001, 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Computer Science Center 121B

Panel Discussion

  • Ken Freed, Journalism
  • Al Eckes, History
  • Tom Walker, Political Science
  • Elizabeth Collins, Philosophy

Summaries of Presentations

Ken Freed: I focus on the difficulties for a journalist covering globalization and its ramifications. Most of the problems arise out of an emotionalism that has led to misinformation, disinformation and a climate so filled with mistrust and lies that covering the subject is like crossing a minefield for journalists.

As examples, I will look briefly at my experiences in Argentina, Canada and Haiti in hopes of exposing the strengths and weaknesses of the debate over globalization.

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