Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Moral Sense III approaches, June 2nd at St. Francis College

Posted 25 May 2017 / 0
Moral Sense Final Program-1.pngAlison Dell’s Moral Sense III cover art subjected a Richard Alexander figure to paper chromatography

Next week, a variety of natural and social scientists will converge on Saint Francis for Moral Sense III, a one day colloquium exploring the human “moral sense”. In part inspired by the work of Richard Alexander, the colloquium marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of his book The Biology of Moral Systems.

If I were to give my most concise preview of what this colloquium appears to be, that preview would be something like where philosophy and biology collide. While there is more than just biology and philosophy being covered by these talks, the most clear contrasts in perspectives seem to exist between the highly philosophical approach to human moralty and the biological/materialist approach to (so-called) moral behaviors.

The keynote speaker for the event is Robert Trivers, who I have not heard speak in about six and a half years. As it always is with Trivers, it should be an interesting talk. Cryptically, his talk abstract is pretty sparse:

Morality is favored by natural selection and so are displays of false morality. Our system of self-deception in turn is tuned to turn fake into real. Evidence and logic will be reviewed.

Given that Trivers is a pretty staunch materialist who strongly favors genetic, individual-level explanations for behavior, it should be interesting to see how he reacts to the other talks. There will be plenty of metaphysical arguments, some of which may invoke non-material explanations of human morality. There will also be cultural and group-level evolutionary accountings for morality. How will Trivers react to landing in this diverse moral space? Should be enlightening to see.

You can check out the full program for Moral Sense III here. If you are interested in attending, you can register here.

A Major Post, Conferences, Ethics, Evolutionary Psychology, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Human Uniqueness, Population Pressure, Reproductive Fitness, Sex and Reproduction, Sustainability, Uncategorized

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