LAURENTIAN PORTRAIT
After completing her writing
internship in University
Communications and graduating in
December, Molly Lunn took a position
as an educational intern with YES!
magazine in Bainbridge Island, Wash.
LAURA REDIEHS
by Neal Burdick ’72
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, noted
British astrophysicist and philosopher
of science of the early 20th century,
once said that we humans have double
vision: We look at what is, but also at
what should be. That pronouncement
resonates with Associate Professor of
Philosophy and Coordinator of Peace
Studies Laura Rediehs, who adds, “Life
is a process of trying to reconcile those
two visions and their discrepancy, of
trying to bridge the gap between them.”
Rediehs has spent her 14-year career at
St. Lawrence promoting double vision.
Cases in point:
She has been a strong advocate for the
Social Responsibility core component of
the new business in the liberal arts ma-
jor (see page 3.) It attracts her attention
because, she says, “it gets most directly
at ethics.
It’s important to include ethics in a
business-oriented major, because I’m
concerned that we are letting economic
considerations trump ethical con-
siderations in our wider society,” she
explains. “We are letting material gains
override the wider well-being of people
and our planet. But money is a means,
not an end. Ethics provides a wider
context.”
Rediehs recently parlayed this thinking
into a prize. She was named a co-winner
in the Carnegie Council for Ethics in
International Affairs’ 2012 international
essay competition, “Ethics for a Con-
nected World.” Challenged to identify
the world’s greatest ethical problem,
Rediehs wrote, “We have let economics
replace ethics as a guide to life.”
She elaborates, “We need to be aware
of this trend, challenge it and reverse
it. Instead of asking how we can spend
less, shouldn’t we be asking how we can
use our financial and other resources to
advance ethical goals?”
The essay proved controversial, gen-
erating a spirited conservation in social
media and an online comments forum.
Often the issue was the meaning of
economics,” but the role of money
played a part, too. (To read Rediehs’s
essay and some of its responses, visit
/
articles_papers_reports/0139.)
I’m sympathetic to the ideal of the
free mark t taking care of everything,
but I believe it can’t be fully trusted,”
Rediehs says, citing such factors as ma-
nipulation of human “needs” through
advertising and exploiting addictions.
We have to have some force for bal-
ance, to make sure ethical consider-
ations get attention.
I don’t harbor any illusions that I can
solve the world’s problems,” Rediehs
admits with a rueful laugh.“But, to
paraphrase Frederick Buechner, I believe
that vocation is matching what we care
about with some important problem in
the world, and seeking solutions.”
This mantra has drawn the one-time
physics major to philosophy, and to
teaching. “Philosophy is all about clari-
fication of ideals,” she says. “It’s a great
way to explore very complex questions
and perhaps inspire others to want to
make a difference.
We are problem-solving creatures,”
Rediehs concludes. Maybe that is why
we have double vision.
SOLUTION SEEKER
20
FALL 2013 | ST. LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE