How can we both imagine and achieve a more just society?
Ethics is the cornerstone of society and philosophy can and should play a vital role in helping to think clearly and rigorously about difficult ethical questions, and clarifying the theoretical frameworks we use for thinking about such questions. South Africa faces urgent practical questions that require systematic analysis from an ethical perspective, such as HIV/Aids treatment, testing and counselling, patents, economic development, affirmative action, uses of state resources (eg what counts as corruption), animal rights, BEE, political symbols and the brain drain. We also face theoretical controversies about the right way to address these issues, such as whether one should use an individualistic, rights-based ethic, or one based on ubuntu. Controversial, intricate ethical questions often do not admit of simple responses and cannot be resolved just by consulting the law or a professional code of ethics. Instead, there are invariably competing values at stake. It is important to clarify, attempt to reconcile and, when necessary, trade these values off in a rationally defensible way.
WiCE is a research centre housing a team of moral specialists, based in the philosophy department, but bringing together researchers from different disciplines across the university, which produces research into ethical issues of concern to the Southern African region. The centre brings together scholars at Wits with diverse but overlapping interests in ethics such as scholars in Education, Law, Sociology, Politics and the Bio-ethics centre.
WiCE has three core activities: Research
WiCE generates and publishes research about ethics of relevance to the southern African region, with respect to both theoretical and practical questions.
WiCE supports the teaching of ethics not only to students in professional tracks, but also to established professionals in business, medicine, politics.
WiCE engages the community through public advocacy and consultancy. WiCE organises conferences, workshops and lectures all of which are open to the public. Such events are vital not just to the development of research but also to developing and strengthening the community of scholars both at Wits and nationally.