Northern Arizona University/2008 Summer Workshop/Flyer

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Summer Workshop at Northern Arizona University

July 30 to August 1 of 2008

in Flagstaff, Arizona


The aim of this workshop is to examine the interplay between the foundations of ethics and the principles that guide experimental inquiry. By calling this a workshop--and not an academic meeting--we intend to convey a sense of the spirit we hope will animate the gathering. Instead of organizing the gathering around a set of papers to be read, the workshop will be organized around a set of questions posed by those who plan to attend. The purpose of the gathering is to join together in the spirit of a community of inquirers searching for truth concerning the questions that each of us finds most pressing in our own work.

Generally speaking, we will be starting from a neo-Kantian perspective on the foundations of morality. More particularly, we plan to examine the kinds of ideas that are found in Peirce's pragmatism about the relationship between the normative sciences of logic, ethics and aesthetics. On the one hand, we will examine the extent to which questions about the foundations of ethics might profitably be approached using an experimental method. On the other hand, we will examine the extent to which the central ends that are taken in ethics to be good for their own sake might give purpose to the principles that guide the experimental method.

The plan for each of the three days is to meet in morning and afternoon sessions for approximately 2½ hours each. These shorter sessions will enable us to save time for participants to continue the discussions informally on walks and hikes in the area, and also to save time to read, write and do research each day.

The workshop will be held at the Merriam Powell Research Station, which is run by Northern Arizona University and is located on the grounds of the Arboretum at Flagstaff. The research station has a central room for the workshop, as well as facilities to lodge the participants. The workshop will be funded, in part, by an NEH grant to develop a curricular approach to teaching moral theory and the Richard Wood Foundation at NAU. It may also be funded by two pending NSF grant applications for work on the relationship between ethics and the environmental sciences. This first workshop that is planned for the summer of 2008 will focus on the more theoretical questions in philosophy about the foundations of ethics and the foundations of the experimental method of inquiry. In addition to getting philosophers together to talk about the foundational questions, part of the workshop dealing with the experimental method will involve scientists who have a special interest in the scientific method and environmental problems, including those associated with climate change.

Special Guests: Richard Smyth and Douglas Anderson

For additional information, including an application, please contact:

Jeffrey Downard Department of Philosophy Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ 86001 (928) 523-8354 Jeffrey.Downard@nau.edu

Information about the Merriam Powell Research Station and the Arboretum is available at: http://www.mpcer.nau.edu/mprs/index.html


A trip will be planned to the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas for those participants who would like to stay an extra day or two. Transportation to and from the canyon and entrance to the park will be provided on August 2nd.


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