The Ethics of Disaster: On the Possibility of Social Sustainability

The Philosophy Department of The Kalikow School, HCLAS, presents Eddy Souffrant, Philosophy, University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Professor Souffrant will argue for a global development ethics for understanding our collective responsibility to one another in conditions of disaster.


Abstract: These past few years have challenged the international community.  We have witnessed, and in some instance from afar, disasters of all sorts that span the globe from the Caribbean, South and North America, Asia, to Australia and other affected regions of the world.  Some of these destabilizing and at times fatal events have resulted in lives lost, forced migration and a restructuring of the physical, social and economic architecture of parts of the globe.  Further, these disasters, by definition massive restructuring of the physical and psychological status quo, are at times human made and at others, natural.

My paper proposes an approach to thinking about an ethics of disaster and aims to offer reflections on the construction of an ethics drawn from conditions of disaster.  My analysis would be relevant to economic and political disasters as well, for these too challenge ethics to be transparent about its assessment of agency and of the human community.  Regardless of the extent of the culpability of a single agent, person or institution for the demise or disruption in the lives of persons, groups or states, and whether that culpability is demonstrated factually or theoretically, responsibility ensues but the question remains, Whose responsibility?  When such disasters occur, it is important to determine not only the expanse of their ramifications but also the range of our responsibility in alleviating the plight of those impacted by such conditions. 

My focus here will be to argue that fellow human beings, who through no fault of their own suffer the wrath of (socio-political or physical) nature, should be relieved.  A humane world will work to redress the nefarious conditions of persons whose lives disasters alter.  I thus make an effort to carve out a moral theory that motivates attempts at alleviating not only acute but also chronic need.  I propose in short a global development ethics that operates with the presumption that the demands to eliminate pervasive nefarious conditions will persist and will have to be contended with.  The importance of the how to contend with them is pressing.  This paper argues thus for a model that facilitates our discharge of collective responsibility.


Date: Thursday April 19, 2018

Time: 2:20 p.m.-3:45 p.m.

Location: Breslin 103

Thursday, April 19, 2018



Breslin Hall
Breslin Hall
Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549


Website: Click to Visit

  01 02 03 04 05 06
07 08 09 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        
Submit Your Hofstra Event

Hofstra University is pleased to have the public join us for some of our on-campus events, which are held for the benefit of our students. Please be aware, when attending events during the school year, when classes are in session, parking is often limited on South Campus to faculty and students. There is additional parking available on North Campus, approximately a 10-minute walk from Adams Playhouse, through the Student Center and over the unispan. Thank you for your cooperation.