Category Archives: Ethics

On viruses and trolleys

(featured image: NIAID CC BY and withvengeance86 CC BY) We can catch a virus on a trolley, but there is another connection – or why we sometimes must think the unthinkable The coronavirus, in the meantime rechristened COVID-19 by the … Continue reading

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The needs of the many

(featured image: Isriya Paireepairit CC BY) Rules and laws matter, and they often matter even more when we don’t like them – because they protect the needs of the many against attacks by the powerful few The works of William … Continue reading

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Unjust deserts

(featured image: Aimee Ray CC BY) Many people see meritocracy as a worthy ideal: everyone gets what they deserve. Luck can mess this up: it is, by definition, something we don’t deserve. But is it really that simple? Imagine you … Continue reading

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Matters of Life and Death

(featured image: Andrea Kirkby CC BY) Sometimes a decision of life and death is not just a metaphor. What can we learn from people who genuinely face them? In September 2007, Sampson Parker had to make a really difficult decision. … Continue reading

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A tale of bad luck and good fortune

(featured image credit: abby chicken CC BY) Wat does a harrowing story reaching the news headlines tell us about our individual and collective response to people affected by fate? Baby Pia is 9 months old. She lives in Antwerp, Belgium, … Continue reading

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A nudger’s unease

(featured image: Andrew Barclay CC BY) Should different norms apply when it is charities doing the nudging? In an old Russian fable, a frog is sitting on the bank of the river, when a scorpion approaches, asking whether the frog … Continue reading

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It ain’t what you say, it’s the way that you say it

(featured image credit: Ron Cogswell CC BY) Can we communicate and not manipulate? I first encountered behavioural science many decades ago – long before I discovered Kahneman, Thaler, Ariely and co. Moreover, it was not even in an academic paper, … Continue reading

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