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It is well-known that upward mobility in the United States is increasingly rare. But what are the costs for those who do make it? Philosopher Jennifer M. Morton argues that one cost that is often overlooked is ethical. Moving up can require that in order to gain educational and career opportunities that will propel one into the middle-class one has to make difficult sacrifices in many areas of one’s life that one finds valuable—one’s relationships with family and friends, one’s sense of cultural identity, and one’s place in one’s community. These costs are ‘ethical’ because they affect aspects of one’s life that give it value and meaning. How should we think about these trade-offs? Are they inevitable? And how can we help those on this path contend with these ethical challenges? Join us for this important discussion.


Jennifer M. Morton is an assistant professor of philosophy at the City College of New York and a senior fellow at the Center for Ethics and Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University and her A.B. from Princeton University. Professor Morton has published numerous journal articles in philosophy of action, moral philosophy, philosophy of education, and political philosophy. She is currently working on a book on the ethics of upward mobility.