2024 Undergraduate Ethics Conference: Saturday, February 17th

This virtual conference, which is supported by Washington and Lee University's Roger Mudd Center for Ethics, is the only open undergraduate conference in the country solely dedicated to the academic study of ethical issues. All accepted speakers will not only have the opportunity to present their papers at the conference, but also to have them published in the The Mudd Journal of Ethics.

Register Here!

Keynote: Professor Jonathan Gingerich, Associate Professor of Law, Rutgers
Talk Title: Play, Spontaneous Freedom, and the Avant-Garde

Professor Gingerich's research explores ways in which moral and political philosophy can be enriched by attending to experiences that are often neglected in contemporary normative theory, such as experiences of spontaneity, artistic creativity, and cultural participation. He is developing a novel theory of freedom focused on the freedom of unplanned and unscripted activity, which he calls ‘spontaneous freedom'. When contemporary moral and political philosophers write about freedom, they are typically concerned with a sort of freedom that is required for a person to be morally responsible for their actions, a sort of freedom needed for autonomous choice, or else a sort of freedom that is conceptually connected to a state's ability to claim legitimate authority. While these philosophical approaches all describe important varieties of freedom, none of them speak to the freedom of setting off to explore an unknown city, opening your sketchbook to a blank page, or quitting your job to take up a new vocation. Professor Gingerich has recently published articles in journals such as Ethics, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, and Yale Journal of Law and Technology; another is forthcoming in the William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal. Further information about Professor Gingerich's research is available on his website

Conference Schedule

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Time Presenter Title
12:30-12:40 pm Introductions
12:40-1:00 pm Benedict Loo U-Hui '25
National University of Singapore
"Nudging and Paternalism: A Critical Examination
of Their Permissibility and Potential Implications
to Contemporary Policymaking"
1:00-1:20 pm Response and Discussion (Claire DiChiaro, W&L)
1:20-1:30 pm Break
1:30-1:50 pm Erica Esterly '24
United States Military Academy at West Point
"On Identity and Epistemological Understanding"
1:50-2:10 pm Response and Discussion (Sydney Smith and Amanda Tan, W&L)
2:10-2:20 pm William Bray '26
Washington and Lee University
"Can Objective Aesthetics be Used for Valuing Nature"
2:40-3:00 pm Response and Discussion (Natalie Eger, W&L)
3:00-3:10 pm Break
3:10-4:10 pm Keynote: Professor Jonathan Gingerich "Play, Spontaneous Freedom, and the Avant-Garde"
4:10 pm Closing Remarks

Editorial Board

Name Field of Study
Margaret Thompson ‘24
Editor in Chief
Cognitive & Behavioral Science
Law, Justice & Society and Philosophy
Amanda Tan '26
Associate Editor
Cognitive & Behavioral Science and Business Administration
Bella Devraj ‘25 Neuroscience and Philosophy
Claire DiChiaro ‘26 English and Strategic Communications
Elias Malakoff ‘25 Religion
Margaret Witkofsky '24 Religion
Law, Justice & Society and French
Natalie Eger '27 Antropology and Math
Rebecca Nason '25 Politics
Data Science and East Asian Studies
Saaraim Nunez ‘27 Philosophy and Accounting
Siya '27 Economics and Math
Sydney Smith '24 Biology
Poverty and Human Capability Studies
Teresa Yoon '26 Accounting and Studio Art
Watson Deacon '24 English


Undergraduate Conference & Journal Presenters

Benedict Loo U-Hui photo
Benedict Loo U-Hui '25
National University of Singapore

Erica Esterly photo
Erica Esterly '24
United States Military Academy at West Point

William Bray photo
William Bray '26
Washington and Lee University