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Ethics and Public Policy (EPP)

Ethics and Public Policy




  • Promote research on the ethical dimensions of public policy.
  • Improve ethics education for Public Policy/Public Affairs/Public Administration students.
  • Build a community of teachers and researchers.


  • Scholars teaching and conducting research on the normative dimension of public policy.

See: Upcoming Workshops and Events | Past Workshops and Events | Member Directory | Recent Publications | Teaching Resources

Upcoming Workshops (Zoom)

October 6, 2023 10:30am ET Joseph Millum, Senior Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, St. Andrews University


Title: Valuing Interventions That Affect Procreation

Abstract: Within health care systems, limited resources mean that not all interventions can be provided to those who could benefit from them. The decisions about how to allocate limited resources for health care should ideally be made on the basis of evidence and defensible ethical principles. Such decisions require, at a minimum, assessment of the costs and the expected outcomes of alternative health care interventions. For example, many health care systems make some use of cost-effectiveness analysis to compare alternative interventions on the basis of their monetary costs and their effects on health-related quality of life. 

Some medical interventions are not just intended to improve health but also to enable or prevent procreation. The provision of condoms, for example, has multiple desired effects: it allows couples greater control over whether and when they reproduce, condoms protect the user and their sexual partners against sexually transmitted infections, and greater condom use can reduce birth rates. But how should these different effects be evaluated and compared? In this paper, we assess the defensibility of different methods for evaluating the effects of health interventions that affect procreation. We begin with an overview of current practice, which gives an idea of the range of outcomes that evaluative methods take into account and the individuals or entities who are taken to have standing. The overview reveals two principled ways of valuing interventions that affect procreation: the intermediate outcomes approach and the complete accounting approach. Each faces serious challenges. Further, both fail to account for the value of reproductive autonomy—that is, the value to individuals of having the power to choose whether and when to procreate. This problem suggests the possibility of a third approach, which we label the reproductive rights approach. We explain what that approach would entail and note a couple of challenges it would have to overcome. We conclude with some suggestions for choosing an appropriate method.

December 1, 2023 10:00am ET Anna Alexandrova, Professor in Philosophy of Science, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA

January 26, 2024 10:00am ET Matthew Adler, Richard A. Horvitz Professor of Law, Professor of Economics, Philosophy and Public Policy, Duke University

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA

Upcoming Events

To be announced!