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About the Workshop

How do we make moral judgments and how do they affect our actions?  Moral concerns, principles, commitments, and standards seem to pervade nearly every sphere of life—families, workplaces, hospitals, legislative bodies, and so on.  Indeed it is difficult to imagine human society in the absence of collective guiding orientations for action that make distinctions between right/ wrong, good/bad, noble/vile, worthy/unworthy, and so on.  But how exactly does morality shape human action?

Recent empirical studies have provoked a series of debates about the nature of moral judgment and action.  Are moral judgments primarily the result of conscious reasoning, based on deductions from or reflections on principles, which then prompt action?  Or are moral decisions primarily reactions to situations, driven by emotions and intuitions, which are then justified or rationalized post hoc?  If intuition-driven, then are these intuitions primarily innate and universal, or are they culturally-transmitted and situation-dependent?

Each of these questions reflects contentions that tend to be housed in distinct academic sub-fields, and advanced by distinct methodologies and assumptions.  The proposed workshop aims to bring these different perspectives and positions into conversation by creating a forum for faculty and graduate students from different disciplines—psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, theology, and applied ethics. Through such a forum, our hope is to generate a community of scholars committed to interdisciplinary research on the topic. With faculty and especially graduate students being typically under pressure to research and publish within the narrow confines of their disciplines, this workshop can serve as an opportunity for all participants to broaden their horizons. It can also allow for creative cross-fertilization of ideas that can help scholars advance towards resolving these debates.


1. Friday 8 October 2010, 10:45am – 12:30pm
Morality and Neuroscience, An Introduction
2. Friday 12 November 2010, 10:45am – 12:30pm
3. Friday 3 December 2010, 11:15am – 1:00pm
Rational Deliberation
4. Friday 21 January 2011, 11:15am – 1:00pm
Culture, Context, and Moral Action
5. Friday 25 February 2011, 11:15am – 1:00pm
Moral Cognition and Applied Ethics
6. Friday 15 April 2011, 11:15am – 1:00pm
Neuroscience and Religion

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