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Making Good: Can We Realize Our Moral Aspirations?

Is moral improvement possible? If so, how? Recently, philosophers have suggested that virtue is a skill that can be acquired much as skills in other areas, like chess and music, are acquired. Philosophical proponents of this “skill analogy,” unfortunately, have paid limited attention to the science of human performance, science which may illuminate pathways and impediments to moral development. Here, I canvass some of the science, and assess some prospects for moral improvement.
by Rob Peeler Feb 02, 2017
When Feb 23, 2017
from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Where Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, University Park, PA 16802
Contact Name
Contact Phone 814-863-0314
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About the Talk

Is moral improvement possible?  If so, how?  Recently, philosophers have suggested that virtue is a skill that can be acquired much as skills in other areas, like chess and music, are acquired.  Philosophical proponents of this “skill analogy,” unfortunately, have paid limited attention to the science of human performance, science which may illuminate pathways and impediments to moral development.  Here, Dr. Doris will canvass some of the science, and assess some prospects for moral improvement.

This lecture is approved for SARI@PSU participation credit. 

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About the Speaker

John Doris HeadshotJohn M. Doris is Professor in the Philosophy–Neuroscience–Psychology Program and Philosophy Department, Washington University in St. Louis.  He works at the intersection of cognitive science, moral psychology, and philosophical ethics, and has authored or co-authored papers for such venues as Noûs, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Cognition, Bioethics, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Journal of Research in Personality, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and the Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy. Doris has been awarded fellowships from Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities; Princeton’s University Center for Human Values; the National Humanities Center; the American Council of Learned Societies; the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; and the National Endowment for the Humanities; and is a winner of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology’s Stanton Prize for excellence in interdisciplinary research.  He authored Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behavior (Cambridge, 2002) and Talking to Our Selves: Reflection, Ignorance, and Agency (Oxford, 2015). With his colleagues in the Moral Psychology Research Group, he wrote and edited The Moral Psychology Handbook (Oxford, 2010).  He is presently at work on a collection of his essays, Character Trouble: Undisciplined Essays on Personality and Agency, for Oxford University Press At Washington University. Doris’ pedagogy has been recognized with an Outstanding Mentor Award from the Graduate Student Senate and the David Hadas Teaching Award for excellence in the instruction of first year undergraduates.

About this Lecture Series

These lectures are part of the Rock Ethics Institute's emerging research initiative on moral agency and moral development.  As part of this initiative, we are hosting the Moral Agency Group (an interdisciplinary research group for Penn State faculty and graduate students) and several speakers who will enrich our discussions of moral agency, development, and education. Taken together, we are interested in better understanding moral experience, deliberation, judgment, and action, and, further, forms of education that support the development of moral agency.