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Hope House Scholars Program

The Center sponsors humanities courses at Hope House, a residential treatment facility for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.

Undergraduate Honors Program

Interdisciplinary scholars developing a sophisticated understanding of the problems of social concern.

The Buzz

The Center's news portal fueled by Stanford students interested in ethics.
×2016-17 Postdoctoral Fellowships: Applications are due via Interfolio by 5pm (PDT) on December 7, 2015. Learn More »

Upcoming Events

Fri 5 Feb
7:30pm on Friday, February 5, 2016 At Campbell Recital Hall

The Calidore String Quartet plays the music of Hanns Eisler with an adapted script from The House Un-American Activities Transcripts as part of "The Ethics of Democracy" series.

Mon 8 Feb
5:30pm on Monday, February 8, 2016 At CEMEX Auditorium

Barney Frank, former U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts, will deliver the 2015-16 Wesson Lecture in Problems of Democracy.

Tue 23 Feb
7:00pm on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 At Stanford Law School, room 290

A public talk by Philip Gourevitch, author and longtime staff writer for The New Yorker magazine. 

Thu 25 Feb
5:30pm on Thursday, February 25, 2016 At Stanford Humanities Center, Levinthal

A lecture delivered by philosopher Avishai Margalit (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) as part of the "Science, Democracy, and Ethics" series.

Wed 9 Mar
4:00pm on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 At TBD

A conversation with the Nobel Prize-winning economist to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Social Choice and Indi

Welcome to Ethics in Society

The McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society is committed to bringing ethical reflection to bear on important social problems through research, teaching, and community engagement. Drawing on the established strengths of Stanford interdisciplinary faculty, the Center develops initiatives with ethical dimensions that relate to pressing public problems.

Letter from the Director

Rob Reich Faculty Director, Center for Ethics in Society

The roots of Stanford’s Center for Ethics in Society stretch back more than twenty five years. In 1986 an interdisciplinary group of faculty, including Kenneth Arrow (Economics), Patrick Suppes (Philosophy), David Kennedy (History), and Arnold Eisen (Religious Studies) stimulated the creation of an honors program in ethics. From its inception, this program – and the larger Center that now houses the program – has supported research, teaching, and public discussion. Ethics in Society ranks as one of the earliest university centers devoted to bringing ethical reflection to bear on important social problems.

Of course, ethical inquiry and dialogue are fundamental to the human condition and date back not decades, not centuries, but millennia. And social, economic, technological, and cultural changes are constantly forcing us to confront age-old questions in new ways. This fact provides every cohort of students and scholars at the university with novel questions that nevertheless draw upon long-standing ethical traditions. Ethics is evergreen material.

We believe that every nook of the university – each school and department – provides ample opportunity to pose innumerable ethical questions. We also believe that, outside the university walls, nearly all social, economic, and political problems – whether local or global – contain deeply important ethical dimensions.

The Center for Ethics in Society supports a wide range of programs designed to prompt ethical reflection across the university and in public forums. We sponsor post-doctoral and graduate student fellowships to promote teaching and research in ethics; we provide an exceptional honors thesis experience for undergraduate students across many different majors; we host annual public lectures – including the Tanner, Wesson, and Arrow lectures – that bring notable scholars to campus; we created an award-winning community engagement initiative, the Hope House Scholars Program; and we sponsor a wide range of programming under an annual theme (past themes include Ethics of Food and the Environment, Ethics and War, Ethics of Wealth).

This year our theme is Ethics and Inequality. As the new faculty director, I hope to develop additional programming on ethics and technology in the coming years.

Take a look here for an overview of our public events this year, and sign up for our bi-weekly email newsletter that provides details of the full range of activity at the Center. We welcome you to join us.

Learn More About the Center

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Morality, as we all know, is a very serious subject.  In contrast, video games count among the more inane objects in our lives; if anything, they are impediments to our morality, with their copious violence.  Right?