Values, Morals, and Science: An Interdisciplinary Conference October 23-24, 2015
Old Westbury, NY USA

October 23, 2015
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Venue: NYIT de Seversky Mansion, Old Westbury, N.Y.

Contact: For additional information please contact Professor Eugene Kelly, ekelly@nyit.edu, 516.686.7562

Campus(es): Old Westbury -—

Friday, Oct. 23 - Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015
Lunch will be served both days.

Registration at the door: $20.00.

The conference is sponsored by NYIT College of Arts and Sciences and organized under the aegis of the Long Island Philosophical Society, whose governing board is Glenn Statile, St. John’s University, John F. De Carlo, Hofstra University and Margaret Cuonzo, Long Island University. Eugene Kelly, New York Institute of Technology serves as host.

Since at least 1975, when Edward O. Wilson published Sociobiology, biologists, anthropologists, neurobiologists, evolutionary theorists, and psychologists have attempted to harness their science to what had been the exclusive domain of philosophy and political theory: questions of the origin, nature, and function of values—specifically moral values.

Under attack is the assumption of most philosophers that moral arguments and judgments are the outcomes of rational processes that are perhaps influenced but not fully determined by sociological and/or psychological forces. Scientists in areas such as sociology and anthropology have begun to make the case for our viewing moral judgments not only as influenced by factors having to do with the evolving culture and local social environment of those who make the judgments, but also as causally determined by those factors.

A further challenge to philosophical ethics is posed by studies of the human brain. Attempts have been made to show that an adaptive process is responsible for the development of permanent neurological structures in the human brain that predispose agents to certain types of moral and other normative responses.

Given this complex and broadening situation, participants from disciplines including biology, neuroscience, philosophy, economics, and psychology are invited to examine issues relevant to critically assessing the claim that normative reasoning is predominantly empirically rather than cognitively determined.

Schedule of Speakers

Friday, Oct. 23


9:15 - 9:30 a.m. - Opening

9:30 - 10:30 a.m - Jay Van Bavel, Psychology, NYU: Beyond Intuition and Reason: A Dynamic Model of Moral Cognition

10:30 - 11 a.m. - Coffee Break

11 a.m. - noon - Regina A Rini, NYU Center for Bioethics: What is the ‘Neuro’ in Neuroethics?

Noon - 1 p.m. - Lunch

1 - 2 p.m. - Tziporah Kasachkoff, Philosophy, Ben Gurion University, Yakir Levin, Ben Gurion University, and Itzhak Aharon, IDC Israel: Morality, Meta-Ethics, and the Scope of Evolutionary Psychology

2 - 3 p.m. - Oriel Feldman Hall, NYU, Psychology: The Cognitive Mechanisms of Prosocial Choice

Saturday, Oct. 24


9:30 - 10:30 a.m. - Diana Reiss, Hunter College, Biopsychology: Dolphin and Elephant Minds and Human Morals

10:30 - 11 a.m. - Coffee Break

11 a.m. - noon - Edouard Machery, Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh: Religion and the Scope of the Moral Domain

Noon - 1 p.m. - Lunch

1 - 2 p.m. - Rosamond Rhodes, Director, Bioethics Education, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York: Values and Ethics in Biomedical Research

2 - 3 p.m. - James Cornwell, Psychology, Columbia University: Motivational Framing and the Use of Intuitions or Reasons in Moral Judgments