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Public Symposium 2012, Cosponsored by the Nanzan University
Institute for Social Ethics and the Sophia University Institute of Bioethics

July 24, 2012

With the earthquake and tsunami that struck eastern Japan last year, we all were faced with the quintessential moral question of whether we should help others.

For example, we hear reports of many people in the midst of the destruction that went against the basic instinctual response of surviving at the expense of others and engaged in altruistic actions, even when that meant placing their own safety at risk.On the other hand, there are also more than a few stories of people haunted by their conscience that didn’t save others, putting aside even occupational duties for helping others and evacuating to preserve the safety of their own family. The very real, very human social, psychological and moral reactions to the emergency situation that were revealed by this disaster of unprecedented scale beg us questions of highest importance, in addition to the urgent issues of rebuilding and electric power.

We can also look abroad to find examples of giving in the millions of dollars for the heart transplant of a single child while many children go hungry in the great famines of Africa due to lack of donated funds.If it is true that the courage is found for altruism when a specific person is before us in need of help, but fails for unnamed masses far removed, then who is the fellow man that deserves our help.

This symposium brings many perspectives to the question of whether we should help others and seeks to reinforce our understanding of altruism.

[ Date/time ] Saturday September 15, 2012, 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
[ Venue ] Room B21, 2F, Building B, Nagoya Campus, Nanzan University
[ Theme ] Should we help others? Society, psychology and ethics in an emergency
[ 1st Session ] Lecturer:
Ryo Oda (Associate Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Nagoya Institute of Technology)
Topic:
Why do people help strangers? Studying the actions of do-gooder monkeys
Description: I won’t examine the problem of whether we should help others, but rather, why man has a peculiar predisposition to help strangers.From an evolutionary standpoint, it remains a mystery how we developed altruistic tendencies towards those not closely genetically related.In this lecture, we will explore why the altruistic actions towards strangers human beings demonstrate continue to evolve and the characteristics of the mental mechanisms that support such changes from the perspective of experimental research.
[ 2nd Session ] Lecturer:
Satoshi Kodama (Lecturer, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo)
Topic:
Ethics of “Every Man for Himself” and Natural Disasters
Description: In a state of disaster, we temporarily set aside our normal principles for action and must act according to a series of rules that, while logical, are difficult to accept emotionally.One such rule that became famous with the Great East Japan Earthquake is “Tsunami Tendenko” (roughly, “in case of tsunami, every man for himself”). In this session we will examine the ways this rule is logical while analyzing how it simultaneously goes against our intuition.
[ 3rd Session ] Lecturer:
Mitsuru Hisata (Professor, Faculty of Human Sciences, Sophia University)
Topic:
When Rescue Workers Couldn’t Help – Guilty Consciences of Rescue Workers during Disasters and Coping Strategies
Description: For persons in a position to bear responsibility and duty in the saving of others in an emergency that couldn’t meet the demands of rescuing others as they prioritized the safety of themselves and their families, there can be a palpable sense of regret that cripples their ability to respond in future events.
Similar feelings have been broadly recognized in interviews with reporters stationed on the Fukushima coastline where the nuclear accident occurred, as well as local doctors and teachers.I’d like to examine strategies for coping with these issues from a wide range of viewpoints.
[ Hosted by ] Nanzan University Institute for Social Ethics
[ Inquiries ] Nanzan University Institute for Social Ethics
18 Yamazato-cho, Showa-ku, Nagoya City 466-8673
Phone: 052-832-3111 (ext. 3414, 3414)
Fax:052-832-3703
E-mail: ise-office@ic.nanzan-u.ac.jp