'What's Fair?' Lecture Series Addressing Social, Political Dvide

Lectures Scheduled for Oct. 4, 25 and Nov. 30 in Honors College Commons

Americans share many values but often disagree on what is fair in the world. Ongoing national debates focus on social justice, economic reform, education, politics and numerous other topics. Such complex discussions usually pose the often-unanswerable question, “What is fair?”

Fairness surrounds many issues shaping American discourse, and now, a University of Houston lecture series will focus on this very topic. “What’s Fair? A Lecture Series on Justice and Desert in America” offers insight from three thought leaders and academic experts.

Sponsored by the Honors College’s Phronesis Politics and Ethics program and the Hobby Center for Public Policy, “What’s Fair?” lectures will be conducted in the Honors College Commons (second floor of UH’s M.D. Anderson Library). These events are free. For additional details or to RSVP, visit the “What’s Fair?” website.

“In America today, there is an intense debate about fairness, from economic issues to education to civil rights. This lecture series seeks to bring a variety of perspectives to the debate,” said Susan Collins, Phronesis director and associate professor of political science.

A schedule of speakers and lectures is as follows:

  • 5 p.m., Oct, 4: Paul Woodruff – “The Ajax Dilemma: Justice, Fairness and Rewards”

Woodruff, Darrell K. Royal Professor of Ethics and American Society, will discuss how to distribute rewards and public recognition without damaging the social fabric.

  • 4 p.m., Oct. 25: Tom Hurka – “Two Levels of Desert”

Hurka, Chancellor Henry N.R. Jackman Distinguished Professor of Philosophical Studies at the University of Toronto, will focus on who deserves what – both on an individual and societal level.

  • 4 p.m., Nov. 30: Ruth Grant – “Strings Attached: Untangling the Ethics of Incentives”

Grant, professor of political science and senior fellow in the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, will explore whether incentives are manipulative or exploitative even if people are free to refuse them.