To spur young researchers to work on societal challenges, Sustainable Society rewarded 9 University of Groningen PhD candidates with an Intercontinental grant of € 2500,- or a European grant of € 1500,-. A selection committee revised their research proposals. They rewarded the proposals that (1) showed the best contributions and/or solutions towards societal challenges and (2) which by means of the grant could enlarge the added value and impact of their research.
The grants were awarded during a Grant Ceremony on 12 November 2020. All winners were asked to prepare a pitch to present their research during the ceremony. The best and most persuasive pitch was held by Kritika Maheshwari, PhD student at the Faculty of Philosophy. On top of a European grant of € 1500,- she received a bonus prize of € 1000,-. The prize gives her the possibility to visualize her research by a professional designer. This visualization will serve the goal of increasing and stimulating the visibility and impact of her PhD research.
Kritika Maheshwari's research focuses on the ethics of exposing each other to risk of harm in society. We are all familiar with reasons for why actually harming individuals is morally wrong. But can it be also morally wrong to expose others to risk of harm even if no one ever ends up harmed? And if so, what really makes it wrong? These ethical questions have gained much societal and personal relevance in recent times of pandemic – questions such as whether it is wrong to not wear a mask and expose others to risk, or whether one should maintain social distance to reduce the risk of infecting others are ultimately questions concerning how and when individuals ought or ought not to risk harms on others, and for what moral reasons. In her research, she addresses questions related to moral significance of risking harm onto others, its relationship with impact on individual freedom, and how reasons and duties against harm apply to those against risking harm. Answers to these questions are also significant from the standpoint of a sustainable society – a society that allows individuals to create or impose unjustified high risks of harms onto others is less sustainable with regards to protecting goods like health, freedom, security than one which restricts such imposition. Any discussions of (im)permissible risk-taking or risk-imposing in a sustainable society while tackling societal challenges like the pandemic itself begins with an investigation of what exactly making risking morally significant in the first place.
The grant will allow Kritika to pursue a three month research stay abroad. She is currently planning on spending some of this time at Stockholm University's Department of Philosophy which has a strong research focus in moral and political philosophy, and in particular, in areas of responsibility and risk. Kritika is also in the process of arranging a research visit at University of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute where she hopes to continue working on her thesis chapter on the morality of exposing future generations to risk of extinction.
Curious to watch Kritika present her pitch? Watch it below!
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