Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mission

The Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, founded forty years ago by Peter Brown and Henry 
Shue at University of Maryland, is the oldest research institution in the United States providing expertise on the normative dimensions of public policy. In 2011, the institute moved to George Mason University, where it continues to work on pressing issues in public policy, including climate change, environmental sustainability, bioethics and emerging technologies, international development, peace and conflict, and global demands for justice. Staffed by an array of leading ethicists, economists, and political scientists the institute contributes to public policy discussions by answering questions such as:

  • What is the most effective and efficient pathway to achieve an equitable global climate agreement?

  • What issues involving emerging scientific and consumer technologies require oversight or governance?
  • What constitutes ethical conduct of neuroscience research in clinical populations?
  • When is the decision to go to war justified and how can wars be fought ethically?

  • What policy guidance is available for those wishing to pursue geoengineering?

The institute provides expertise in the ethical and conceptual dimensions of public policy and thus complements empirical research from the natural and social sciences. Research at the institute is conducted by resident faculty and interdisciplinary teams composed of scholars at Mason and other institutions around the world. Institute staff are frequent advisers to relevant U.S. federal agencies and other governments and serve regularly as subject-matter experts to the press. In addition to pursuing its research, the institute publishes the journals Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly and Ethics, Policy, and Environment.

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