Disaster ethics

Flooding in New Orleans the day after hurricane Katrina struck the area.
Flooding in New Orleans the day after hurricane Katrina struck the area.
  • What principles should guide the state’s role in disaster response and rebuilding?
  • Should the state subsidize rebuilding in high-risk areas?
  • How should the persistent association of socioeconomic and racial inequality with disaster vulnerability guide disaster policy?
  • How should the state balance civil liberties with protecting life and property?
  • Is profiting from disaster wrong – when it brings supplies which would otherwise be unavailable?  Is price gouging ever justifiable?

I’ve been thinking recently about these and other questions which fall under the heading “disaster ethics.”  Here’s a short blog post on the What’s Wrong blog summarizing some of these thoughts:

Why Not Privatize Disaster Response?: The Political Significance of Unnatural Disasters

An article on the topic, “Rebuilding after Disaster: Inequality and the Political Importance of Place,” has been published in Social Theory and Practice.

In Fall 2017 I worked on this project while a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Values and Social Policy in the University of Colorado at Boulder Philosophy department.

As part of this Fellowship, I participated in a public panel on Disaster and Vulnerability with Emmanuel David and Lori Peek, both of U Colorado Boulder, and presented a paper at the CVSP titled: “Disaster Recovery and The Political Importance of Place.”

Here’s a livestream video (on Old Dominion University’s IEPA Facebook page) of a public lecture I gave on price gouging in October 2018.