In 2002 the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education, chaired by Mr Eiji Uehiro, established the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. The following year, the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics was created within the Philosophy Faculty. Generous support by the Uehiro Foundation enabled the establishment of an annual series of three lectures, The Uehiro Lectures in Practical Ethics.
The goal of the Centre is to encourage and support debate and deeper rational reflection on practical ethics. The Centre as a whole will not promote a particular philosophy, approach, solution or point of view, though its individual members may give an argument to a substantive conclusion as a basis for dialogue, engagement and reflection. It is the method of rational analytic practical ethics that we aim to advance. The vision is Socratic, not missionary. We seek to be inclusive, encouraging debate between different approaches to ethics, aiming to resolve disagreements and identifying key areas of consensus.
Practical ethics should not only advance knowledge by deeper, rational ethical reflection and dialogue, it should change people’s hearts and so better their own lives and the lives of others.
Humanity has flourished and transformed its planet, creating ever more powerful technology with unprecedented potential for great immediate benefit but also for ultimate harm. Its success creates novel problems and challenges, for which its traditional institutions and norms were not developed: climate change, environmental destruction, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, global inequality and poverty, inter-continental migration and multiculturalism, overuse of antibiotics and the world-wide spread of infectious disease, genetic engineering, and biomedical means of life extension and cognitive and moral enhancement, and artificial intelligence. The fate of humanity in the 21st Century and following centuries will to a greater extent than ever before be determined by the choices made by human beings, the leaders and citizens of nations. It is the values, principles and wider ethics of these people that will determine their choices. We aim to enable practical ethics to develop and more effectively guide human choice.