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Elisabeth H

- Research Program Mentor

MA Master of Arts


Ethics, Epistemology, Aesthetics, Philosophy of Mind, History (American Civics, Government, Political Theory), Communications, Writing for Broadcast, Journalism, Video Art, Video Production, Creative Writing

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Monuments, Morality, and Memory: Exploring the Intersections of Ethics and Aesthetics

This project explores how monuments (or other kinds of public art) preserve important historical events and considers the ethical implications of that preservation. First, we’ll explore how a physical object like a carved stone represents historical moments and moral values. We’ll ask questions about where ‘the ethical’ is located in a physical object and in what ways the ‘meaning’ of a physical object can change over time. We’ll explore who determines the ‘meaning’ of an art piece and its interpretation. How much should we weigh the artist’s intention, the values held by the community at the time of the monument’s creation, or the community in which the monument exists at present when considering what virtues or meaning a monument represents? Finally, we will explore what to do about monuments that might be unethical or no longer representative of the values a community currently hold, whether that be moving the monument, destroying the monument, erecting a plaque, or leaving it alone.

Doing vs. Allowing Harm and the Right to Bear Arms

This project evaluates the philosophical distinction between doing and allowing harm regarding gun ownership in the United States. We’ll consider how examples in the doing vs. allowing harm philosophical canon might apply to this question, and whether the outcomes of those hypothetical cases are reasonable. We will also explore whether the doing vs. allowing distinction is better applied to individual people, or large institutions (such as the U.S. Government). Finally we’ll explore what other outcomes and initiatives could help to bring clarity to the gun rights debate.

Ethics and Animal Rights

This project will dive into the philosophical literature on ethics in animal rights and protection. We will read philosophers like Peter Singer, Tom Regan, and Mary Midgley who argue in favor of animal rights (though for different reasons). We will also explore philosophers who argue against animal rights, such as R.G. Frey. The material for this project can be adapted to lean more theoretical, or look at specific questions about ethical implications of biology and the ability to feel pain, likeness to human beings, or another topic of interest in the animal rights literature.

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