Ethics portfolio update

A message from Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Ethics) Professor Hayden Ramsay:

An election campaign brings questions of integrity, ethics and character—what the philosophers call ‘virtue’—to the fore. In fact, those questions have been with us for months—through the vaccine battles, the Russian invasion, ‘Partygate’ in the UK, and on it goes.

The Ethics Portfolio offers ethics commentary through both my office and the institutes with which we work. Meantime, we are proud of the cultural and intellectual contribution made by other areas of the portfolio, particularly our colleagues in the First Peoples Directorate and our Libraries staff dispersed across each of our campuses.

This month, I’d like to point out some of the great work done by our two bioethics centres, the Queensland Bioethics Centre and the Plunkett Centre for Ethics, as well as that of the Institute for Child Protection Studies and the PM Glynn Institute.

In excellent collaboration with the Faculty of Health Sciences, both the Queensland Bioethics Centre and Plunkett Centre for Ethics, operate with partner hospitals to offer a full range of bioethics services across the eastern seaboard. In addition to highly active clinical programs with hospitals, the centres host research activities in bioethics that demonstrate excellence, together with high impact in areas such as dementia care, conscientious objection in healthcare, voluntary assisted dying and palliative care.

ACU is active in bioethics commentary and advice, both to government bodies and to the Church. We are similarly active in our other ethics areas of strength: public policy, and safeguarding and child protection. Our Institute for Child Protection Studies conducts large-scale research and other projects and is regularly consulted by Church authorities and Australian governmental and public bodies. Our PM Glynn Institute delivers public events and position papers around key areas of policy and social thought.

One clear focus of the portfolio is the development of our thinking and activity on public ethics—the ethics of public life and social issues. We are pursuing this as a new direction for EthicsFinder, our highly active digital resource on ethics, and through the Ethos series, through which the PM Glynn Institute explores social developments that give rise to difficult ethics questions.

I’m sometimes asked, ‘whose ethics?’ That question itself includes an ethical assumption—that each individual makes or selects ethics for themselves. Of course, no one just makes up their ethics. While being highly respectful of people’s different ethical views, this is an academic subject, a branch of philosophy. Ethics is reasoned debate over important questions of moral value, always coming back to the reasons and always requiring people to listen and respond to views very different from their own. It’s an excellent specialty in a modern Catholic university.

Our team has warmly welcomed the invitations to contribute on ethics to schools and directorates over the past year.

If we can help or if you have an interest, please get in touch. Ethics may be an academic subject—but it also refers to the deep heart of our individual consciences, characters and decision-making. It belongs to everyone.

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