"Science and the Good," A Public Lecture by James Davison Hunter and Paul Nedelisky

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Join the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study for a public lecture by James Davison Hunter and Paul Nedelisky entitled "Science and the Good."

Hunter and Nedelisky are the authors of the recent book Science and the Good, the Tragic Quest for the Foundations of Morality (Yale University Press, 2018). In this lecture, they will confront the role of science in modern public discourse by examining the daunting and long-studied questions of whether there is a scientific basis for morality and whether efforts to create such a basis are doomed to fail. The “new moral science” advocated by E.O. Wilson, Patricia Churchland, and Joshua Greene contends that because right and wrong are not amenable to scientific study, they don’t actually exist. Hunter and Nedelisky argue that the resulting moral nihilism turns the science of morality into a social engineering project and that if there is nothing moral for science to discover, the science of morality becomes, at best, a program to achieve arbitrary societal goals.

James Davison Hunter is LaBrosse-Levinson Distinguished Professor of Religion, Culture and Social Theory in the Department of Sociology and Religious Studies and the Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He has written nine books, edited four books, and published a wide range of essays, articles, and reviews all variously concerned with the problem of meaning and moral order in a time of political and cultural change in American life. Over the years, his research findings have been presented to audiences on National Public Radio and C-Span, at the National Endowment for the Arts, and at dozens of colleges and universities around the country. He was appointed by the White House in 2004 to a six-year term to the National Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and he has been a consultant to the White House, the Bicentennial Commission for the U.S. Constitution, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the National Commission on Civic Renewal.

Paul Nedelisky is a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. His research interests center on issues in metaphysics and ethics. His work in metaphysics primarily concerns the nature of the fundamental constituents of reality—the basic building blocks of the world. He has also published, with James Davison Hunter, “Where the New Science of Morality Goes Wrong” in The Hedgehog Review (2016). Nedelisky has won several teaching awards and was named as an honoree of the Seven Society’s Graduate Fellowship for Superb Teaching.

The event is open to all students, staff, faculty, and members of the public.

Carolyn Sherman
Events and Program Support