Book Clubs on Ethics

The Center for the Study of Ethics in Society at Western Michigan University is sponsoring reading groups during the fall 2017 semester. Join us for spirited discussions about ethics.

Ethics Between the Lines

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Books are provided free of charge for the first 10 people who sign up for each group.

  • Keagan Potts, M.A. student in philosophy, will be leading discussions of Black and Blue: The Origins and Consequences of Medical Racism by John Hoberman. Black & Blue offers an account of American doctors think about racial differences and how their thought has unique and often disproportionate negative effects on black patients. Hoberman departs from past discourse on medical racism by addressing the racially motivated thinking and behaviors of physicians practicing medicine today over and above systemic racism in our healthcare system. This work has many implications from issues of paternalism, confidentiality, and individual ethical to concerns about just distribution of healthcare resources, the right to a decent minimum of care and the obligation of the government to promote access for its citizens. The group will meet on the following Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at a variety of locations: Sept 20 at the WMed Information Commons, Sept. 27 in 3025 Brown Hall, and Oct. 11 at Central City Tap House.
  • John Minser, curriculum coordinator at the WMU Stryker School of Medicine, will be leading discussions of The Left Hand of Darkness by renowned science-fiction author Ursula LeGuin. In this novel, a lone emissary of an emerging galactic coalition arrives on a wintry planet without gender.  His conflict with a non-gendered society forms the core of the plot, raising ethical issues related to gender identity, metaphorical and literal colonization of the body, and paternalism. The group will meet at 6 p.m. on the following Tuesdays at Central City Tap House: Oct. 17, Oct. 24, and Nov. 7.
  • Kathy Purnell, a part-time instructor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration, will be leading discussions of The Harm in Hate Speech by Jeremy Waldron. Waldron develops a distinctive argument on the nature of the harm to others in hate speech, which is not “offense,” but instead an attack on social standing and dignity. Key ethical questions are: What are our responsibilities to one another in a democracy to prevent utterances that may intentionally seek to diminish the social standing of others in the eyes of the community? When, if ever, should such utterances be curtailed? What are the normative justifications for those restrictions? The group will meet at 6 p.m. on the following Wednesdays: Nov. 1, Nov. 15 and Nov. 29. The first meeting will be held in 2072 Moore Hall; the group will determine future meeting locations. Please note schedule change.


All groups are open to everyone. To sign up, send an e-mail to no later than one week before the first group meeting.


Schedule and updates