Skip to main content

Curtin Annual Ethics Lecture 2016

Professor Eric Meslin, President and CEO, Council of Canadian Academies, will present the 2016 Curtin Annual Ethics Lecture on Thursday 3 November at the Tim Winton Lecture Theatre.


The Curtin Annual Ethics Lecture is on Thursday 3 November at the Tim Winton Lecture Theatre.
The Curtin Annual Ethics Lecture is on Thursday 3 November at the Tim Winton Lecture Theatre.

Was David Hume Mistaken? Unpacking the’ Is-Ought’ Gap in Science Policy

David Hume is well known for describing what has been called the ‘is-ought’ problem in ethics: which is commonly articulated as ‘one cannot derive a normative, moral conclusion from a descriptive fact about the world’. The ‘is-ought’ conundrum, identified by Hume in 1739, has become one of the central questions of ethical theory, and Hume is usually aligned to the position that such a derivation is impossible.

A relevant example is the contrasting basic ethical values underpinning national health care policies in the United States and Canada. As both the US and Canada are on the brink of critical decisions regarding the future direction of their health care systems, this is an especially important moment to reflect upon the ethical values that underpin alternative policy directions.

This lecture will consider some of the more practical implications of applying Hume’s Law to two domains of science policy: public policy about science funding, and the use of science to inform policy.

Event details and registration can be found here.