Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics



On May 1, the Harvard Medical School announced that the Division of Medical Ethics will transition into an independent center there and will become the Center for Bioethics. Former Faculty Fellow in Ethics Christine Mitchell will serve as the new Center's Executive Director, and long-time Center affiliate Robert Truog will serve as Director. Read more here.


Former Fellow, Troyen Brennan, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of CVS Caremark Corporation, helped lead the company in its decision to stop selling tobacco products in its stores. Read more


bioethics prescriptionsLong-time Center affiliate Frances M. Kamm published a new book, Bioethical Prescriptions: To Create, End, Choose, and Improve Lives. 

"Bioethical Prescriptions collects F.M. Kamm's articles on bioethics, which have appeared over the last 25 years and which have made her among the most influential philosophers in this area. Kamm is known for her intricate, sophisticated, and painstaking philosophical analyses of moral problems generally and of bioethical issues in particular. This volume showcases these articles - revised to eliminate redundancies — as parts of a coherent whole. A substantive introduction identifies important themes than run through the articles. Section headings include "Death and Dying," "Early Life" (on conception and use of embryos, abortion, and childhood), "Genetics and Other Enhancements" (on cloning and other genetic technologies), "Allocating Scarce Resources," and "Methodology" (on the relation of moral theory and practical ethics)." Read more


mello thumbLab Fellow Michelle Mello, Professor of Law and Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, was elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM). According to the IOM's website, "election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service." Read more


lobel bookFormer Graduate Fellow in Ethics, Professor Orly Lobel, has published a new book, "Talent Wants to be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free Riding" with Yale University Press. 

"This timely book challenges conventional business wisdom about competition, secrecy, motivation, and creativity. Orly Lobel, an internationally acclaimed expert in the law and economics of human capital, warns that a set of counterproductive mentalities are stifling innovation in many regions and companies. Lobel asks how innovators, entrepreneurs, research teams, and every one of us who experiences the occasional spark of creativity can triumph in today's innovation ecosystems." Read more 


"Alan Rosenthal, a political scientist whose ardent belief in representative democracy led him to help reshape and strengthen state legislatures across the country and to criticize their excesses and ethical infirmities, died on Wednesday at his home in Princeton, N.J. He was 81." Read more

Professor Rosenthal was a Faculty Fellow in Ethics during the 1992-93 academic year.



June 5, 2013: Samantha Power, former Graduate Fellow in Ethics and Professor at Harvard University, was nominated by President Obama as United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Read more here.




2013 undergrads

 The Center for Ethics has launched a fellowship program for Harvard College students. The Edmond J. Safra Undergraduate Fellowship program was created and will be directed by Professor Eric Beerbohm.

With the ongoing, generous support of Mrs. Lily Safra, the Edmond J. Safra Undergraduate Fellowships will provide opportunities to Harvard College students interested in pursuing research and writing in cross-disciplinary fields in ethics and public policy. Concurrently with the new fellowships, the Center has inaugurated an annual Lester Kissel Lecture in Ethics, as well as revived the Lester Kissel Grants in Practical Ethics, which will allow the students the option of extending their research into the summer. Click here to read the press release about the new initiatives.

We have selected fourteen talented undergraduates – three seniors, ten juniors, and one sophomore – to join the Center this spring as the first class of Edmond J. Safra Undergraduate Fellows in Ethics. Professor Beerbohm will lead a workshop series, assisted by graduate student James Brandt, with a curriculum designed specifically for undergraduates.

Read an article about the new fellowships in the Harvard Crimson.

The new Edmond J. Safra Undergraduate Fellows are as follows:

Sheyda Aboii is a junior government concentrator from Pflugerville, Texas. Following her undergraduate career, Sheyda hopes to attend medical school. As a freshman, she encountered many examples of applied political and sociological theory in her courses, allowing her to develop an interest in the cross-cutting field of ethics. She is contemplating writing an applied ethics senior thesis. Outside of class, Sheyda has pursued an interest in communications, serving as the editor-in-chief of the Harvard Triple Helix and as a member of the news department at WHRB Radio. She also serves as a hospice volunteer for the greater Boston area.

Nisha Deolalikar is a junior concentrating in Social Studies with a secondary field in Global Health and Health Policy. Her academic interests lie at the intersection of bioethics and global justice. She enjoys travel, and has worked and conducted research in Norway, Nepal, and India during her college summers. On campus, Nisha works as a student intern at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and is the Co-President of Harvard Dharma. In 2011, she co-founded MOBILIZE! Digital Libraries, a start-up that utilizes innovative digital technology to help improve primary education in rural India. Her hobbies include chess and photography.

Medha Gargeya is a junior Government concentrator with a secondary in Women, Gender, and Sexuality and citation in Sanskrit. Her primary research interests involve exploring freedom of religion, science and the courts, genomics and public policy, as well as gender and mental health in law. As she is exploring these myriad fields, she hopes ultimately to think about how the justice system can best serve different populations. On campus, she is involved in the Institute of Politics, Harvard Model Congress, Lowell House Opera Company, the Harvard Political Review, and Harvard Dharma.

Isabelle Glimcher is a senior concentrating in Social Studies, with a focus in Global Governance in the 21st Century. Originally from New York City, Isabelle became interested in ethics and philosophy at college with her first exposure to metaphysics. She went on to pursue modern political philosophy with special focus on the relationship between the state and the individual, and the complex intersection of international law, state sovereignty, and international human rights. She is writing her senior honors thesis, exploring the normative right to reject state citizenship, understood more colloquially as elective statelessness. Isabelle plans to continue pursuing these questions in a JD/PhD program.

Jirka Jelinek is a senior from Eliot House, concentrating in Government with a secondary in Ethnic Studies and a language citation in French. Originally, he hails from Prague, Czech Republic. At Harvard, he has co-directed a PBHA volunteering program, co-founded the Czech and Slovak Society, and been heavily involved with the model UN and the Woodbridge International Society and its pre-orientation program FIP. His passion for travelling and service led him to teach in Ghana, intern for the former Prime Minister of Haiti in Port-au-Prince, and study abroad in South Africa. His research interests include conflict resolution, diplomacy, peace-building, humanitarian aid, and 'race.'

Adam Kern is a senior philosophy concentrator in Adams House. He grew up in the great state of Indiana, to which he credits his interest in philosophy and his belief that it can, and should, be a vital force in people's lives. He has created and taught several philosophy seminars at the Suffolk County House of Correction, and has founded two projects which use digital tools to improve the accessibility of the arts and humanities. He has published a paper in value theory, and is currently writing a thesis on the reasons for inquiring and what we have reason to inquire about. He is particularly interested in articulating why we should think about ethics.

Jared Lopez, originally from Southern California, is a junior philosophy concentrator living in Eliot House. His general academic interests lie in ethics, existentialism, and metaphysics. In particular, he is interested in using an interdisciplinary approach to tackle the problems of philosophy. In addition to philosophizing, Jared enjoys following the NBA, thinking about business strategy, and reading.

David Miller is a junior concentrating in Social Studies. His focus is on human rights issues surrounding terrorism and the American 'War on Terror,' with a particular interest in state-sanctioned torture. Beyond this tight focus, his academic interests include the modern Middle East, asymmetric warfare, American literature, and educational policy. At Harvard, he is primarily involved in the Mission Hill After-School Program and PBHA's Chinatown Adventure Program, as well as serving as Captain of the Harvard Club Tennis Team. In his free time he enjoys sports of all sorts, traveling, family time on the beach, and Bruce Springsteen.

Lily Ostrer is a junior concentrating in Social Studies. She is interested in the intersection of science, policy-making, and social inequality. Her research interests include the role of science in policy-making, how a society can best promote the health of its citizens, and shared global responsibility to promote social well-being. She is involved in health advocacy work through the Harvard Global Health & AIDS Coalition, volunteers at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, and teaches health classes in Boston public high schools with Peer Health Exchange. She hopes to pursue a career related to health and social justice.

Ketan Ramakrishnan is a senior concentrating in philosophy. He is interested in moral and political philosophy, the history of early analytic philosophy, epistemology, and jurisprudence. Outside of class, he sings with the Harvard Krokodiloes and the University Choir. He also works with high school Latin students in his home state of Wisconsin and elsewhere, and is involved with Harvard High Impact Philanthropy. Ketan's interests and hobbies include pond hockey, music of all kinds, and Packer football.

Chloe Reichel is a sophomore concentrating in Social Studies. Her research interests include the study of ethics in early education, and bioethics, specifically physician-assisted suicide and end-of-life care. As a member of the Harvard Educational Studies Program, she taught ethics to middle and high school students from a curriculum that she created. She hopes to further develop this curriculum to examine the feasibility and impact of incorporating the study of ethics in urban, public elementary education. She is involved with the Harvard Undergraduate Bioethics Society, the Radcliffe Union of Students, and the Harvard Review of Philosophy on campus.

William Ryan is a junior living in Quincy House. He is concentrating in philosophy, and is especially interested in developing democracies, environmental ethics, and how ethics applies to institutions.

Celestine Warren is a junior studying History of Science, with a secondary field in Government. She is interested in the intersection of science and public policy, specifically risk-analysis and medical decision making. In addition to fulfilling pre-med requirements, she has focused her coursework on studying political philosophy and ethics. She anticipates writing a thesis on the topic of medical communication and bioethics.

Oliver Wenner, originally from Sweden, is a junior studying philosophy. His primary philosophical interests are metaphysics, epistemology and meta-ethics. In particular, he is interested in the intersection of law and philosophy and how to use metaphysical and epistemological tools to examine legal and ethical notions found in public discourse. He has conducted philosophical research in Israel and Palestine on the morality of military conscription and is involved in several organizations, such as the Harvard Review of Philosophy and the Suffolk Prison tutoring program, where he teaches ethics seminars to inmates.


flemingmcclainFormer fellows James Fleming and Linda McClain, published a new book, Ordered Liberty: Rights, Responsibilities, and Virtues

About the book:

"Many have argued in recent years that the U.S. constitutional system exalts individual rights over responsibilities, virtues, and the common good. Answering the charges against liberal theories of rights, James Fleming and Linda McClain develop and defend a civic liberalism that takes responsibilities and virtues—as well as rights—seriously. They provide an account of ordered liberty that protects basic liberties stringently, but not absolutely, and permits government to encourage responsibility and inculcate civic virtues without sacrificing personal autonomy to collective determination."

"The battle over same-sex marriage is one of many current controversies the authors use to defend their understanding of the relationship among rights, responsibilities, and virtues. Against accusations that same-sex marriage severs the rights of marriage from responsible sexuality, procreation, and parenthood, they argue that same-sex couples seek the same rights, responsibilities, and goods of civil marriage that opposite-sex couples pursue. Securing their right to marry respects individual autonomy while also promoting moral goods and virtues. Other issues to which they apply their idea of civic liberalism include reproductive freedom, the proper roles and regulation of civil society and the family, the education of children, and clashes between First Amendment freedoms (of association and religion) and antidiscrimination law. Articulating common ground between liberalism and its critics, Fleming and McClain develop an account of responsibilities and virtues that appreciates the value of diversity in our morally pluralistic constitutional democracy."

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conlySarah Conly, Professor of Philosophy at Bowdoin College, published a new book, Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism (Cambridge University Press). Professor Conly was a Faculty Fellow in Ethics during the 2006-07 academic year. Congratulations, Sarah!

About the book:

"Since Mill's seminal work On Liberty, philosophers and political theorists have accepted that we should respect the decisions of individual agents when those decisions affect no one other than themselves. Indeed, to respect autonomy is often understood to be the chief way to bear witness to the intrinsic value of persons. In this book, Sarah Conly rejects the idea of autonomy as inviolable. Drawing on sources from behavioural economics and social psychology, she argues that we are so often irrational in making our decisions that our autonomous choices often undercut the achievement of our own goals. Thus in many cases it would advance our goals more effectively if government were to prevent us from acting in accordance with our decisions. Her argument challenges widely held views of moral agency, democratic values and the public/private distinction, and will interest readers in ethics, political philosophy, political theory and philosophy of law."

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