Cathal O’Connell he has been a member of the staff of the School of Applied Social Studies, UCC, since 1991, having formerly served in various roles within the Irish local government sector. He is a graduate of UCC (BSocSc & MSocSc), the NUI (PhD) and the University of London (PG Certificate in Social Policy).
He was Course Director of the BSocSc Degree in the School of Applied Social Studies until he became Head of School in 2018. He was a co-founder of the PhD (Social Science) and the MPlan in Planning and Sustainable Development, UCC’s professionally accredited town planning degree. He served as Assistant Dean for Student Affairs in the Faculty of Arts and has been Co-chair of the CACSSS Community Engagement Committee, a member of UCC’s Civic Engagement Committee agus tá sé ina mbáll de Bórd na Gaeilge Ollscoil Chorcaí. He has researched and published widely on the development and evolution of the Irish welfare state, Irish social housing and urban regeneration policy and is currently researching a monograph on the key influences which have shaped the welfare state in Ireland.
Professor Ross is both a philosopher of science and an economist whose work has focused on experimental economics; the philosophy and methodology of economics; applications of game theory to the study of sociality in humans and other animals; and the unifying foundations of the sciences, including theoretical physics. His current research focuses on the experimental economics of risky behaviour, especially addiction and gambling, and on choice-based models of sociality in intelligent animals, particularly elephants.
He obtained his PhD at the University of Western Ontario in 1990 and has worked in Ireland, South Africa, Canada, and the USA as Professor of both economics and philosophy.
Prof Ross has authored/edited 14 books, 40 book chapters and published 68 refereed articles. He is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Economics, has been President of the International Network for Economic Methodology, and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Economic Methodology. His co-authored 2007 book Every Thing Must Go (with James Ladyman, published by Oxford University Press) is the most-cited work in the philosophy of science published over the past 15 years. With his principal collaborator Glenn W. Harrison of Georgia State University, he is at work on a popular science book The Gambling Animal, that will be published by Profile Books in 2022.
He is married to Dr Nelleke Bak, a specialist in postgraduate education, father of Jennifer Ross and grandfather of Dylan Warner.
In this lecture, I first summarise leading results of 10 years of laboratory experiments on human risk attitudes carried out around the world by my research team over the past 14 years. I then describe new experiments we are conducting on the risk attitudes of African elephants. The comparison between human and elephant ways of coping with risk is used to address the following question: why did the more recently evolved of these two highly intelligent and hyper-cooperative species come to ecologically dominate the planet, while driving the other one to the brink of extinction? What is the human "killer app" that elephants lack? Might we be able to help elephants acquire this app before they disappear from the wild?