The pandemic has made the mass remote delivery of higher education more plausible as a general direction for growth in the long-term. Choosing between this general direction and the status quo introduces various ethical dilemmas having to do with higher education’s basic aims and values. A move to remote learning as the institutional norm may set back some of these aims and values while advancing others. However, we also argue that complicating the assessment of these dilemmas is epistemic uncertainty about the traditional (i.e. post-WW2) institutional context and what makes that context educationally worthwhile. Addressing these dilemmas requires a better understanding of what an institution is as well as those respects in which it adds value to society’s educational projects. These understandings, we contend, are fundamentally philosophical. Finally, we briefly outline an approach that could assist us in these efforts.