CEHV supports the Black Lives Matter movement

June 8, 2020

CEHV supports the Black Lives Matter movement

"Black Lives Matter" on DC Street

As part of our COMPAS program on “What is America?”, the Center for Ethics and Human Values was honored to welcome Professor Danielle Allen to give our Distinguished Lecture in Ethics on “The Meaning of America.” Professor Allen challenged all of us to face our nation’s history of racism and inequality, to assert the right to protest a government that has failed so many of its citizens, and to forge a new narrative for America.

CEHV accepts this challenge. We support ​the Black Lives Matter ​movement and the protests against systemic racism and police violence. We will continue to listen and provide forums for critical reflection on these issues, and will ​work with other centers, departments, faculty, staff, students, and members of the public to push for the necessary changes at Ohio State and in the broader community. Freedom and equality are foundational values for our country. We call for changes at every level of organization and government that will help to realize a fair and just society for all.


Danielle Allen:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among humanity, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

In order to diagnose how our government is doing, how our society is doing, we have to engage in historical inquiry, by definition. So our division around history feeds straight into our inability to develop shared diagnoses about where we currently are. Our deep conflict over liberty and equality, our inability to tie them together, connects directly to our need to have debates around the foundation of principle that we use to design the solutions to the problems we diagnose. So if as a society we want to do better at diagnosing our circumstances, at identifying solutions that could achieve legitimacy by achieving support from a broad swath of the population, we have to rebuild not one meaning of America, but the capacity to build historical stories together, and the capacity to have conversations about where we might have shared values.




Further CEHV resources on race and inequality:


“What is America?” COMPAS program

As part of our year-long series on “What is America?”, Darrick Hamilton and J.D. Vance discussed “What is the American Dream?” Hamilton’s remarks focused on the failure our country to make the American dream a reality for African Americans.


Inequality COMPAS program

During the 2016-2017 academic year, CEHV hosted a year-long COMPAS program on inequality. Highlights include:

  • Townsand Price-Spratlen and Sara Wakefield spoke on a panel on “Mass Incarceration” at our fall conference on “When do Inequalities Matter?”
  • Kwame Anthony Appiah gave lecture on “Two Cheers for Equality”. “My aim in this talk,” he said, “will be to canvass a diverse range of ways in which appeals to equality can be construed in a society like ours. Equality… is a complex idea.”
  • Richard Wilkinson, co-author of The Spirit Level, gave a talk “Inequality: The Enemy Between Us?” that built on his argument about the importance of social equality for the well-being of a society.
  • Robert Fullilove and Paula Braveman took part in a panel on “Health Disparities,” including those due to race.


Religion COMPAS program

Christopher Carter spoke on “Food Pyramid Scheme” during the COMPAS program on religion in public life, addressing “the structural inequalities that exist in the domestic food system for both producers and consumers, paying particular attention to the underlying sociological and theological assumptions that permit the current food system, whose shortcomings disproportionately affect communities of color.”


2017 Distinguished Lecture in Ethics

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen gave our Distinguished CEHV Lecture in Ethics on the topic “What is Wrong with Inequality?


Image CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Don Barrett