Kaushik Basu (Cornell)

A Paradox of Morality: Using Games to Understand Group Moral Responsibility

A Paradox of Morality: Using Games to Understand Group Moral Responsibility

We are pleased to invite you to a discussion entitled "A Paradox of Morality: Using Games to Understand Group Moral Responsibility," with Kaushik Basu, Carl Marks Professor at Cornell University. This event will be cosponsored by the Institute for International Economic Policy, the Leadership in Ethics and Practice Initiative, the GWU Philosophy Department, the Elliott School for International Affairs, and the GWU Economics Department's Microeconomics Workshop. LEAP Director Christopher Kojm and IIEP Director James Foster will provide welcoming remarks, and IIEP Director Foster will moderate.

The challenge of distributing moral responsibility when a group behaves badly occurs in many walks of life, from war and politics to corporate behavior. This has been discussed at length in economics, philosophy and law. In this presentation, Professor Basu will be recounting his latest research which shows how simple insights from game theory can shed light on problems in moral philosophy. After the presentation, Professor Foster will provide a short commentary and then will moderate an extended session for Q&A from the audience.


Kaushik Basu is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University. He is currently the President of the International Economic Association and a nonresident senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution. He recently served as Chief Economist at the World Bank and before that was Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India. During his four years at the Bank he co-taught a popular course in the Elliott School with James Foster, entitled Introduction to Game Theory and Strategic Thinking, which every week brought 150 GW students and many visitors from the Bank and other neighboring institutions to the Harry Harding Auditorium of the Elliott School. One class per term was held in Preston Auditorium of the World Bank. As one student commented “Being taught by Prof. Basu was definitely an Only at GW moment!” He has now returned to Cornell but fondly remembers his time in DC - especially his weekly chats with GW students and his daily strolls across the GW campus from home to work in the Bank, and back again.
Professor Basu has research interests that span across development economics, welfare economics, game theory, industrial organization, and law. As a professor at the Delhi School of Economics, he founded the Centre for Development Economics in 1992 and served as its first Executive Director. Kaushik Basu holds a B.A. in Economics from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University, and M.Sc. and PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics, and several honorary degrees, including doctorates from IIT Bombay, Fordham University New York, Bath University, England, and the University of Florence. His recent books are "An Economist in the Real World" and "The Republic of Beliefs."


James E. Foster is Professor of Economics and International Affairs at The George Washington University and Director of the Institute for International Economic Policy. His publications span the fields of economic development, public economics, and economic theory. Current research topics include inclusive growth; post 2015 development goals; women’s economic empowerment; poverty, inequality, and mobility when data are crude; ultrapoverty; provenance and authenticity.

Christopher A. Kojm serves as the Director of the Elliott School's Leadership, Ethics and Practice Initiative. He re-joined the School as a Professor of Practice in International Affairs after serving as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council from 2009 to 2014. He is also the Director of the US Foreign Policy Summer Program and served previously as director of the mid-career Master's in International Policy and Practice program. He taught previously at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School.