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Current Projects



SURVEILLE is an EU FP7 Research Project under the security call. The project systematically reviews the impacts of different surveillance systems, and also helps manufacturers and end-users better to develop and deploy these systems. It is a multidisciplinary project combining law, ethics, sociology and technology analysis in a small number of highly collaborative, cross-cutting work packages. SURVEILLE will assess surveillance technology for its actual effectiveness in fighting crime and terrorism, for its social and economic costs, and will survey perceptions of surveillance in the general public and certain identified target groups. The investigation of societal and ethical aspects will focus on undesired side effects of surveillance systems. SURVEILLE will address legal limitations on the use of surveillance technologies as well as ethical constraints. SURVEILLE will include analysis of the potential of 'privacy by design' and privacy-enhancing technologies in the context of surveillance systems. It will interact with technology developers and manufacturers through a systematically delivered advisory service. The issues raised in the advisory service will in turn inform emphases in research deliverables.

SURVEILLE will provide an interface with law enforcement officials to seek their feedback as results emerge from the research. The project aims at wide dissemination, including amongst European and national decision-makers. It will also contribute in the field of training of judges, prosecutors and the police. Partners within the SURVEILLE consortium strongly represent academic, commercial, law-enforcement and community actors connected with surveillance. SURVEILLE runs from 2012-2015. Prof. Sorell and his team began the work at the Centre for the Study of Global Ethics, University of Birmingham before coming to Warwick. The partners include the University of Delft and the University of Freiburg, and the project is co-ordinated by the EUI in Florence.

SURVEILLE Advisory Service

If you would like a brief summary of what the Surveille Advisory service does, this leaflet will be of interest: Surveille advisory service poster (PDF Document)

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accompany_logo1.jpgACCOMPANY aims to develop a robotic companion (a Car-O-bot3®) in an intelligent environment (such as a smart home) that can offer physical, cognitive and social assistance to elderly users.

The question of what functions a robot can perform for an elderly person are partly determined by the hardware and software available to the roboticists on the ACCOMPANY team. But there are also inter-related ethical and social considerations.

  • What do the elderly users and their families and carers want and expect from a robotic companion?
  • What are the economic and social policy implications?
  • Which Car-O-bot3® capacities increase or undermine the user’s autonomy?
  • Who should control the robot and receive its information, the elderly user or her family/carers?

Professor Heather Draper (Medicine, Ethics, Society and History, University of Birmingham) and Professor Tom Sorell (Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick) are responsible for the ethical aspects of the development and use of this new robotic companion. They will provide an ethical framework for the use of Car-O-bot3® that will draw on the regular stakeholder interactions organised by ACCOMPANY in four EU countries across the lifetime of the project.



fincris_pic.jpgFinCris seeks to enlarge the public understanding of the financial crisis and the understanding among officials, regulatory and consumer bodies of the ethical issues raised by the crisis, specifically, how responsibilities for what has gone wrong create obligations to some of those badly affected by the crisis. FinCris is an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project that will run for three years from July 2012. It is a collaboration between philosophers, economists, and social scientists. The philosophical part of the project moved from the Centre for the Study of Global Ethics to Warwick in 2013.

This project seeks to enlarge the public understanding of the crisis and the understanding among officials, regulatory and consumer bodies of the ethical issues raised by the crisis, specifically, how responsibilities for what has gone wrong create obligations to some of those badly affected by the crisis.
The project addresses the question of which institutions are responsible; and the question of whether individuals, including ordinary consumers and sub-prime borrowers, are also partly to blame. Starting from some of the specialist literature on the causes of the crisis, including the financial management literature, it considers which institutions have the primary responsibilities.

Project components

The project has three work-streams as follows:

1.) Ethical analysis

A number of philosophical and quasi-philosophical theories will be exploited for ethical analysis: indirect utilitarianism, especially in relation to purposes of banks; stakeholder theory and the Friedmanite theory; the literature on the Rawlsian “basic structure” in relation to whether banks are among the institutions required for the operation of equal opportunity; and liberal justice theory. These different perspectives will initially be brought together in a workshop to be attended by an international group of philosophers who have worked on issues relevant to analysing the crisis.

2.) Economics-based financial management

A high level seminar involving tax experts will be used to analyse the Mirrlees Review, financial VAT proposal and other proposals for special financial taxes on banks. Special banks/financial taxes initiated and proposed in various countries will be reviewed, as will the chances of for an internationally agreed tax regime. This will entail substantial desk research on various country level reports for which research assistance will be required. The IMF produced a report on special bank taxes for the Financial Stability Board in 2010 and so a dialogue with its authors will be sought.

3.) Empirical research from policy studies

This work-stream will explore different approaches to providing affordable credit to low-income groups. These approaches will be considered under the following classifications: profit-making vs non-profit-making ; self-sustainable vs subsidised; individualised/personal vs mass/impersonal; broader social impact (eg reducing poverty, improving financial inclusion and capability) vs narrower economic purpose (providing a commercial lending service). The research will use case studies to explore these approaches. The research will also consider issues around responsible lending and borrowing. More detail on this workstream is available here.

FROG (Fun Robotic Outdoor Guide)


Project advisory

FOCUS (Foresight Security Scenarios: Mapping Research to a Comprehensive Approach to Exogenous EU Roles)


Ethics advisory

ESRC Global Uncertainties Leadership Research Fellowship


This three year ESRC Global Uncertainties Leadership Fellowship has had a revised starting date of January 2013. The project is 'Ethics and Security: Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime'. This introduces ethics research into the Global Uncertainties programme as a whole and, through workshops with other GU-grant holders, adds value to on-going security research in the programme. The research will focus on cross-cutting issues in preventive policing in international counter-terrorism and serious crime, including the use of surveillance and infiltration, the meaning of "proportionality," and whether there is a clash between paradigms of security and justice in criminalization of some offences. Professor Sorell's grant will bring in a Research Fellow and support for intensive interactions with user-groups.