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2017 Doris Lecture: John M. Doris, Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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Making Good: Can We Realize Our Moral Aspirations?
John M. Doris, Philosophy Department, Washington University in St. Louis

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
12:00 PM
Ten-Eyck Room, Nevin Welcome Center, Cornell Botanic Gardens

Some folks are better than others.  But how does one come to be better than another?  Is moral decency a matter of grit or grace -- is the right training enough, or is innate talent also necessary? Since the Greeks, philosophers have proposed that moral functioning be understood as a skill, like making music or playing chess. Yet after 2,500 years, we are far from clear on what the acquisition of moral skill requires; what kind of practice, and what sort of talents, make people good?  In this abridged synthesis of what is known – and unknown -- in expert performance, human development, and moral philosophy, I take some hesitant steps towards articulating a “recipe” for moral improvement.

John M. Doris is Professor in the Philosophy–Neuroscience–Psychology Program and Philosophy Department at Washington University in St. Louis and AY 2016-2017 Laurence S. Rockefeller Fellow, University Center for Human Values at Princeton University.  He works at the intersection of cognitive science, moral psychology, and philosophical ethics, and has published widely on these topics in both philosophy and psychology journals. 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).  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.

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