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Introducing Our 2019-20 Postdoctoral Fellows

Sandstone columns
Apr 9 2019

General Ethics Postdoctoral Fellow

Since our first cohort in 2007, our General Ethics Postdoctoral Fellows have been involved in research, teaching, mentoring Ethics in Society Honors students, and helping to develop an interdisciplinary ethics community across campus. These Fellows, all trained in political theory or philosophy, have normative research interests spanning diverse issues including environmental ethics, global justice, education, immigration and inequality.

Yuna Blajer de la Garza

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Yuna studies sociopolitical cleavages, inequalities and the "side effects" of democratization - with special attention to belonging, citizenship and the discursive justifications of structures of domination. In her dissertation, she analyzes the tension between citizenship and belonging through the figure of the "citizen who does not belong" to think about two overarching themes: the democratic promises of equality, and the stickiness of sociopolitical inequalities. The dissertation proposes that formal membership has come to be understood as sufficient for belonging to political communities, effectively crowding out informal exchanges that are actually necessary to guarantee a substantive equal membership in political communities, which she dubs "democratic belonging." Her work combines political theory with ethnographic methods to ground debates of political theory in empirical realities. She will receive her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago in June.

Interdisciplinary Ethics Postdoctoral Fellows

2019-20 will be the fourth year of this fellowship program at the Center. Interdisciplinary Ethics Fellows are matched with a partner center to enhance their normative scholarship through engagement with scholars from social science, life science, natural science, and engineering.

Two of our incoming Interdisciplinary Ethics fellows are matched with, and funded by a generous gift from, the newly launched Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI). These fellows will research the ethical, social and political implications of artificial intelligence and machine learning in support of HAI's mission to advance AI research, education, policy, and practice to improve the human condition.

We also have two incoming fellows matched with, and funded by a generous gift from, Apple University. This partnership, now in its third year, enables Interdisciplinary Ethics Fellows to conduct research under the guidance of Apple University faculty member Joshua Cohen. These fellows will conduct research focused on algorithmic fairness and on bias in automated systems.

Abby Everett Jaques

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Abby completed her Ph.D. in philosophy at MIT in 2018, then remained there as a postdoctoral associate in philosophy and the Ethics of AI Project Lead for the MIT Quest for Intelligence. Her research is in moral and political philosophy and the philosophy of action, with a current emphasis on questions about our relationship to technology. In her dissertation she developed a new theory of the nature of intentional action, and explored its moral, political and epistemological upshots; she's now extending the view to help us understand artificial agents, and what happens to our own agency when we engage with them. She has also recently developed a new, practice-focused method of ethics pedagogy for engineers, and contributed to a series of grant-funded efforts aimed at democratizing AI through formal and informal education. Mainly, she hopes to help us figure out what to do about AI before AI decides for itself. Abby will join the Center for Ethics as an interdisciplinary ethics fellow in partnership with Apple University.

Todd Karhu

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Todd will shortly complete his Ph.D. in philosophy at the London School of Economics. Before LSE, he completed an M.Phil. in political theory at Oxford University. His doctoral dissertation focuses on theoretical and practical issues in the ethics of killing, and a few other normative matters involving death. On the theoretical side, he has worked on the relationship between the wrongness of killing and the badness of death and about how killing and dying relate to the metaphysics of time. On the more practical side, he has worked on the question of the extent of one's right to self-defense in the context of war and the moral duties people incur in virtue of killing others. Todd will join the Center for Ethics as an interdisciplinary ethics fellow in partnership with the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI), where he will work on moral issues concerning the development and use of autonomous-weapons systems in war.

Chad Lee-Stronach

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Chad earned his M.Phil. at the University of Barcelona and will complete his Ph.D. in philosophy shortly at the Australian National University. He specializes in ethics, political philosophy and decision theory.  His research explores the extent to which non-consequentialist moral theories can give us adequate guidance in cases involving uncertainty. His doctoral dissertation argues that absolutist moral theories - those that prohibit particular kinds of actions under all circumstances - can be satisfactorily extended to risky cases using a variety of overlooked resources in decision theory.  His upcoming research focuses on fairness and bias in algorithmic decision-making, the use and misuse of statistical evidence in legal reasoning, and modeling the emergence and persistence of social inequality. Chad will join the Center for Ethics as an interdisciplinary ethics fellow in partnership with Apple University.

Kate Vredenburgh

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Kate will complete her Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard in May. She works mainly on questions in the philosophy of social science and political philosophy. The overarching motivation guiding her research is to understand how background commitments influence modeling in the social sciences and computer science, to reflect on how they should, and to build fairer models on that basis. She also works on political and ethical questions inspired by the use of technology and social science by corporations and by governments. For example, Kate is currently working on a project arguing for a right to explanation, inspired by recent discussions surrounding the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and interpretability in computer science. Kate will join the Center for Ethics as an interdisciplinary ethics fellow in partnership with the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI).

Matthew Adams, a current Ethics in Society Fellow, will remain for his second year at the Center.

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