Prize for researcher who linked maths with morals

A University of New South Wales professor who argues that the essentials of ethics are as objectively true as the truths of mathematics, was last night named winner of this year's $10,000 Australian Catholic University Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics.

The prize, which is part of the prestigious Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, is awarded for the investigation of theoretical or practical ethical issues contributing to the understanding and development of ethical standards.

Associate Professor James Franklin teaches and conducts research in School of Mathematics at the University of New South Wales. Among his most recent publications is a book - Corrupting the Youth: A History of Philosophy in Australia - which was published by Macleay Press in 2003.

Professor Franklin's research argues for an objectivist ethic, based on the worth of people, at both pure and applied levels. He has surveyed Australian realist philosophy writings on ethics from the perspective of older natural law theory, and drawn consequences for applied mathematics such as accountancy.

As well as researching and speaking on ethics, Professor Franklin is the architect of a course on Professional Issues and Ethics in Mathematics at UNSW, which allows students to hear first hand from graduates about ethical issues they face in the workplace, such as conflict of interest, accountability and the need for confidentiality when dealing with data. "We commend Professor Franklin for his focus on these important matters," said Professor Sheehan.

"Franklin's proposition that the single core of ethics is the equality of worth of every individual person, and the conclusions he's drawn from this in both ethics and applied mathematics, make him a worthy winner of this prize," said Australian Museum Trust President, Brian Sherman AM.

Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Professor Peter Sheehan explained that his university's sponsorship of the ethics prize is well justified.

"Our University explicitly engages the social, ethical and religious dimensions of the questions we face in teaching, research and service, and this prize is a tangible way of promoting the essential importance of embracing those ethical issues within the scholarly framework of higher learning." Professor Sheehan said.

ACU National is Australia's only public Catholic University and has six campuses around Australia in Brisbane, North Sydney, Strathfield, Canberra, Melbourne and Ballarat. The University is committed to fostering and advancing knowledge and seeks to make a specific contribution to its local, national and international communities.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are the nation's premier and most comprehensive science awards. Now in their 16th year, the Eureka Prizes raise the profile of science in the community by acknowledging and rewarding outstanding achievements in research, innovation, engineering, training, journalism and education.

Ethics adds up: ACU National's Eureka Prize 2005 (Australian Catholic University 9/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic University
Australian Museum Eureka Prizes - Australian Catholic University Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics
James Franklin: On the Parallel Between Mathematics and Morals (PDF)
Professor James Franklin

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10 Aug 2005