This past weekend’s metaethics conference in Madison was wonderful in a number of ways, and while we’ll post a brief recap once the link to pictures from the conference is available, for now I want to focus on just one of those wonderful aspects, namely, the chance to sit around with other moral philosophers for hours on end, with a beer in one hand and a pointed finger in the other, not only chatting away about various philosophical positions but also engaging in a favorite pastime, namely, constructing a series of “all time” lists.It was at one such session with fellow PEA Brains Campbell Brown and David Sobel that we came to a rather surprising and puzzling revelation: while it’s easy to compile an uncontroversial list of important and influential books in moral philosophy published within the past 20 years (e.g., The Moral Problem, Political Liberalism, What We Owe to Each Other, Ruling Passions, and so forth), and it’s also easy to compile an uncontroverisal list of important and influential articles in moral philosophy since 1970 (e.g., “A Defense of Abortion,” “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person,” “Internal and External Reasons,” “Persons, Character, and Morality,” “Contractualism and Utilitarianism,” etc.), it turns out to be very difficult to construct a list of important and influential articles published within the last 20 years.Why would this be?
In this article , Rebecca Saxe reviews three areas of experimental psychological research bearing on questions of moral psychology. The first are the various experiments, conducted by Marc Hauser and others, soliciting individuals' responses to Foot's trolley problem. The results are surprisingly consistent across the various genders, cultures, etc., lending apparent support for the existence of a universal moral instinct. Psychologists in this area have hypothesized that the universality of this moral instinct is akin to the universal facility for natural language. Saxe:
Just a reminder of some upcoming ethics events. Feel free to post any upcoming ethics events
that you think would be of interest to our readers.
Second Annual Metaethics Workshop, September 16-18, 2005, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Click here for more information on the workshop. (Unfortunately, I won't be
able to attend the workshop this year. Perhaps other PEA Brains who are attending can give us an update when they return?)
Moral Phenomenology Workshop, November 3-5, 2005, University of Arizona. Click here for more information on the workshop, here for
the program, and here for abstracts.
Seventh International Conference on Ethics Across the
Curriculum, November 17-19, 2005, Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL. Click here for more information.
2006 Inland Northwest Philosophy Conference: Action, Ethics,
& Responsibility, March 31-April 2, 2006, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID & Washington State University, Pullman, WA. Click here for more information and here for a list of committed participants.