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Virtues and the Flourishing Life

Virtues and the Flourishing Life

Oriel College, Oxford, January 3–5, 2020

The eighth annual conference of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham

 

The call for papers is now closed.

 

Most of the recent burgeoning interest in the virtues, within philosophy and the social sciences, has been on the role of the virtues in good character and how to cultivate it. However, what is sometimes overlooked is that, historically (for example within Aristotelian approaches), the virtues are seen to be part and parcel of the flourishing life. Flourishing is a wider concept that simply that of good character, and in many ways more complex, politically charged and multi-layered. Terminological disputes abound, for instance, about the relationship between the concepts of ‘well-being’, ‘happiness’ and ‘flourishing’. Even for those who adopt the Aristotelian position of understanding flourishing (eudaimonia) as objective well-being, various theoretical and practical quandaries remain.

The main aim of this conference is to explore some of those quandaries and ask what it really means to live a flourishing life as a professional, student or just as an ordinary human being. What role (instrumental or non-instrumental) do the virtues play in such a life? Is it perhaps possible to lead a decent flourishing life without actualising the virtues, for example by just remaining well self-controlled or ‘continent’ in the Aristotelian sense? What would a flourishing school look like, above and beyond a school that cultivates good character in students? Does the concept of a ‘flourishing professional’ mean anything other than just being a ‘virtuous professional’? What are the socio-political conditions that need to be satisfied for someone to flourish? Finally, there is the question of whether flourishing is too bland or bloated a term to serve any useful purpose in academic or practical discourse. Cannot anyone just populate the term with any variables they happen to like? The aim of the 2020 Jubilee Centre annual conference is to bring together experts from a range of disciplines to explore those questions and many more. Can theorists from philosophy, education, sociology, theology, history and psychology learn from each other’s work? How can insights from theory and practice be integrated?

The Conference Programme is accessible by clicking the image below:


Sarah Banks - What Counts as Flourishing and Whose Flourishing Counts? Exploring the Life and Work of the Social Professions

What Counts as Flourishing and Whose Flourishing Counts? Exploring the Life and Work of the Social Professions

This presentation considers ‘flourishing’ in professional life, with particular reference to the social professions (social work, community and youth work). Arguably, the key purpose of these professions is to enhance and support the flourishing of those using their services, the communities to which they belong and society in general. While the ‘well-being’ of the professionals themselves is important, this may be construed more in terms of resilience to stress and burn-out (for utilitarian reasons of ensuring adequate service delivery), than as a more vocational ‘flourishing’ as part of a whole life lived well. We will consider the scope for professional flourishing in a climate of continued austerity and low public esteem for both social professionals and service users; and the role of virtues in a flourishing professional life.

 

Jennifer Frey - Human Flourishing and Sacrifice

Human Flourishing and Sacrifice

Neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalists argue that it is practically rational to act virtuously, since the virtues are those states of character a person needs in order to flourish qua human. While this schema may work at the level of justifying the virtues quite generally, it seems to fall apart in particular cases—for instance, in circumstances where justice requires that one sacrifice one’s own life. In this talk, I argue that we need to focus on the transcendent dimensions of human nature and life in order to understand how sacrifice and suffering are essential to living well.

 

Dan Haybron - The Concept of a Good Life

The Concept of a Good Life

What does it mean to lead a good life, in the most expansive sense of this term? Our question concerns not merely a life that is good for you, or that is morally good, but a life that is good, period. A good life encompasses all the values that matter in human life, whatever those may be: well-being, morality, etc. Before giving a substantive account of what good lives entail, we need clarity on the concept in question, and whether it really differs from the more familiar notion of well-being. In this talk I argue that the concepts of a good life and of well-being are indeed distinct, and that there are good reasons to undertake explicit theorizing about the nature of a good life.

 

Kristján Kristjánsson - Flourishing as the Aim of Education

Flourishing as the Aim of Education

This keynote presentation has two aims. The first aim is to provide an overview of the main themes from my recently published book, Flourishing as the Aim of Education: A Neo-Aristotelian View. The conception of flourishing elicited here falls broadly within the Aristotelian concept of eudaimonia. Yet it distinguishes itself from Aristotle’s own conception in various ways. While neo-Aristotelians typically offer friendly amendments of Aristotle’s theory in light of contemporary social scientific findings, this book departs further from the Aristotelian script by adding contours to the conception of flourishing that are recognisably un-Aristotelian. Most conspicuously, it argues that the ‘good life’ of the student, to which education should contribute, must involve engagement with self-transcendent ideals and ignite awe-filled enchantment, in ways which go well beyond, and even clash with, traditional Aristotle-inspired conceptions of eudaimonia. The second aim is to introduce 15 remaining problems that need to be addressed for flourishing to become a feasible aim of modern schooling.

Harleen Assi & Michael Fullard - Ark Boulton Academy: Flourishing through a Virtues Curriculum

Ark Boulton Academy: Flourishing through a Virtues Curriculum

This paper will provide a comprehensive case study of Ark Boulton Academy Secondary School, Birmingham, UK, looking specifically at how implementation of a Virtues Curriculum is enabling pupils to flourish, both academically and personally. The paper will give a detailed case study of the practicalities of how the Virtues Curriculum was implemented, the training to gain staff confidence for authentic practice and delivery of the Virtue Curriculum and how it is being developed. It will discuss the challenges faced by a school introducing a character based curriculum and how these can be overcome.

Frances Baker - Our Anthropological Vision as Key to Understanding a Flourishing Life

Our Anthropological Vision as Key to Understanding a Flourishing Life

Considerations of ‘human flourishing’ require an articulated anthropological vision. This thesis, explored within the context of Christian anthropology and the work of virtue ethicists such as Stephen Pope and James Keenan, can be applied to all anthropological visions. A self-understanding that is essentially social and interdependent with all of creation is the key to identifying the virtues and character which will contribute to human flourishing. The question of the difference between a ‘flourishing school’ and ‘a school that produces students of good character,’ highlights the social and interrelated nature of human living on one hand, and a more individualist approach on the other. A dialogical methodology is proposed as a way forward for the development of a ‘flourishing’ community.

Jonathan Beale - The Role of an Integrated Teaching of Philosophy and Religion

The Role of an Integrated Teaching of Philosophy and Religion in Values Education

What is the best way to teach values? Important to values education is providing students with the tools and methods to form independent, critical judgements about beliefs. This can be achieved by providing an education in critical thinking, applied to the fields where the values and beliefs that influence the ways people live are most often acquired. One such field is religion. The paper outlines a course and teaching methodology for the integrated teaching of philosophy and religion. This integrates critical thinking with the study of living religions, using the latter as the subject matter to which the concepts and methods of the former are applied. This approach has pedagogical advantages, particularly for values education.

Karen Bohlin - Can Practical Wisdom Be Taught?

Can Practical Wisdom Be Taught?

This paper presents a framework for teaching phronesis. Distilling instructive insights from both research and practice, this approach is consistent with Aristotle and sensitive to the challenges of the modern educator: How do we know what to do, when we don’t know what to do? Can we teach pupils to determine the best course of action in different contexts without descending to overly prescriptive norms on the one hand or moral relativism on the other? How do we equip educators and pupils with the moral compass they need to navigate ethical decisions and develop the practical wisdom they need to flourish.

Jay W. Brandenberger - What Might a Flourishing University Look Like?: Integrating Epistemic and Public Virtues in Higher Education

What Might a Flourishing University Look Like?: Integrating Epistemic and Public Virtues in Higher Education

What does it mean for a university to flourish in the 21st century? Is it sufficient to have competent faculty, functional scholarship, student interest, and sustained funding? Or does a university need a purpose, one that animates collective efforts? Are there university virtues that may contribute to eudemonic development? Should we focus on student outcomes or community impacts (the university as citizen)? This paper will explore such questions in the context of the current partisan moment wherein notions of truth—germane to the academy—are contested. I will integrate scholarship on individual flourishing, virtue development, and cognitive science (e.g., the construction of knowledge and worldviews).

Dominic Burbidge - Citizenship in a Networked Age

Citizenship in a Networked Age

Humans are social by nature, with each person best understood as a person-in-community. Our community life and even our citizenship require a spirit of public service, justice, neighbourliness, democratic participation and moral reasoning. These ideals for the person-in-community are being shattered in the networked age, an age which threatens to take decision-making out of the hands of individuals and splinter the notion of one’s community. Increasingly, people around the world are following the decisions and recommendations of algorithms and artificial intelligence to understand what would be in their interests, and communicate in siloed groups that are purpose-built around particular aims or views rather than the common good. The paper offers suggestions on ways these tension can be navigated through virtuous ideals of citizenship that promote moral and practical reasoning for our networked age.

T. Ryan Byerly - The Virtues of the Intellectually Dependendable Person

The Virtues of the Intellectually Dependendable Person

In this paper, I develop an account of the intellectually dependable person, argue that a suite of neglected intellectual virtues are central to achieving this ideal, and identify a range of reasons for thinking that it is justified to educate for these virtues. The intellectually dependable person is the sort of person on whom others can depend to enhance the quality of their inquiries. Being this sort of person requires possessing distinctively other-regarding intellectual virtues such as intellectual benevolence and communicative clarity. Educating for intellectual dependability is justified by its conduciveness toward several widely accepted educational ends.

Shelby Clark, Sarah Ellen Magagna and Danny Mucinkskas - Am I Making a Difference?: The Role of Beneficence, Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness in Appraising One's Own Prosociality

Am I Making a Difference?: The Role of Beneficence, Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness in Appraising One's Own Prosociality

Aristotle described eudaimonia as the cognitive, affective, and behavioral qualities involved in living a virtuous, prosocial, and fulfilling life. Researchers have explored how an individual’s satisfaction of the psychological needs of autonomy, relatedness, competence, and beneficence relate to well-being, yet research has not explored whether individuals make use of these competencies when making appraisals of their own successful prosocial actions. This study thematically analyzed the responses of an online sample of 183 adults who reported prosocial actions and how they assessed the impact of those actions. Three primary appraisal themes emerged; implications for a eudaimonic life will be discussed.

Howard J. Curzer - Habituation and Teaching are Obsolete

Habituation and Teaching are Obsolete

Aristotle maintained that virtues are acquired through habituation and teaching. Unfortunately, contemporary society’s rapid, unpredictable transformations impede habituation. Because habituation is a long, complicated, easily derailed process of reforming bad habits, aspirants typically lack sufficient time and predictive ability to habituate before the next major change erases their progress, requiring them to start over from scratch. Teachers typically lack the necessary skills and knowledge to address the contemporary world’s numerous moral complexities, combat its systematic campaigns of deception, and correct aspirants’ entrenched malign values, muddled reasoning, and mistaken beliefs. Perhaps habituation and teaching were suitable strategies for slower, simpler societies, but they are now ineffective.

Matthew Dennis - Technologies of Self-Cultivation for Contemporary Life

Technologies of Self-Cultivation for Contemporary Life

Self-care apps are booming. Early iterations of this technology focused on tracking health and fitness routines, but recently some developers have turned their attention to the cultivation of character, basing their conceptual resources on the Hellenistic tradition (Stoic Meditations, Stoa, Stoic Mental Health Tracker). Those familiar with the final writings of Michel Foucault will notice an intriguing coincidence between the development of these products and his claims that the Hellenistic tradition of self-cultivation has much to offer contemporary life. In this article, I explore Foucault’s cryptic remarks on this topic, and argue that today’s self-care developers can improve future products by paying attention to the Hellenistic exercises of self-cultivation he identifies as especially important.

Cristy Filloon, Nicole Thompson, Wendy Oakes and Carole Basile - Redesigning Educator Preparation and the Education Workforce to Support the Flourishing of Students and Educators

Redesigning Educator Preparation and the Education Workforce to Support the Flourishing of Students and Educators

Flourishing through education begs the question of the role educators and education play in ensuring students are able to flourish in the classroom, and are equipped with the mindsets and practices to flourish in their lives and within their communities (Wilson-Stridom, 2015). ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, in collaboration with district partners, supports educators to fulfill this responsibility by embedding our framework for principled innovation into our educator preparation program content, learning experiences, and pedagogy. Our partner districts are engaging alongside us and advancing the new working conditions, roles, and systems that support the flourishing of students and educators.

Blaine Fowers - Virtue and Flourishing for Ultrasocial Beings

Virtue and Flourishing for Ultrasocial Beings

Aristotle’s function argument suggests the human good is found in the virtuous expression of natural human functions. Evolutionary science provides the only scientific understanding of human nature and sees humans as an ultrasocial species that features group living, collective identity, and profound interdependence. This presentation focuses on collective identity and its better and worse forms. Excellence in collective identity is termed “shared identity,” understood as having clearly acknowledged group membership, knowledge about participating well in the group, and wholehearted participation with other group members in pursuing the group’s goals. Shared identity includes virtues such as trustworthiness, justice, courage, and generosity.

Kevin Gary & Doug Yacek - Transformation and Epiphany in Moral Education

Transformation and Epiphany in Moral Education

In this essay we focus on the significance of epiphanies for moral awakening and development. By epiphany we are referring to an insight, a summons to virtue, or revelation that captures our attention and calls us to become a better version of ourselves. While often unsettling, epiphanic moments uniquely combine disruption with moral clarification. In arguing this, we build on the recent defenses of epiphany in moral education by Mark Jonas (2018) and Kristján Kristjánsson (2018), who have argued compellingly that Aristotelian moral education should be extended to include experiences like epiphanies for those who have not had the proper upbringing in the virtues. We intend to argue that while teachers cannot guarantee moral epiphanies in the classroom, the attempt to do so is worthwhile, given the moral goods at stake.

Katy Granville-Chapman - How Could Virtuous School Leadership Improve the Flourishing of Teachers?

How Could Virtuous School Leadership Improve the Flourishing of Teachers?

This presentation explores the question: ‘how could virtuous school leaders improve the flourishing of teachers?’ Evidence suggests that the flourishing of teachers positively influences pupil outcomes across a range of measures, and philosophers argue that flourishing is an intrinsic good. Further, the impact of school leaders on the flourishing of teaching staff is an under-researched area. This presentation will draw upon the project’s findings and explore what school leaders could do to improve the flourishing of teachers; it will also ask participants to consider how the findings could be applied in a variety of contexts, reflecting the collaborative and participatory methods used in the project.

John Haldane & Caroline Paddock - Why 'Flourishing' Is Difficult

Why 'Flourishing' Is Difficult

Various alternatives to traditional moral and religious education have been proposed including values clarification, values education, personal and social development, character education and now education for well-being. We consider these developments and turn to consider challenges facing the idea that the aim of education should be to enable students to flourish. These concern the form and content of flourishing, the first exhibiting the logical complexity of the notion, the second the problem of making it the focus of formation in common schools given the diversity of society and the liberal disavowal of promoting substantive conceptions of the human good.

Tom Harrison & Matthew Dennis - Unique Ethical Challenges for the 21st Century: Online Technology, Flourishing, and Virtue Education

Unique Ethical Challenges for the 21st Century: Online Technology, Flourishing, and Virtue Education

Living well in the 21st century will present human beings with a unique set of demands and ethical challenges, many of which will require a rapid response to developments in the online space. Online activities increasingly permeate our practical lives. While there is every indication that this process will intensify, even experts on digital technology recognise that the precise effects of future emergent technology will be unique and remains unknown. We argue that virtues, and other character-based concepts, provide our best chance of creating a moral vocabulary that can guide us towards living well in the 21st century.

Eranda Jayawickreme - Using 34,000 Assessments to Examine the Relationship Between Adversity, Virtue and Well-Being

Using 34,000 Assessments to Examine the Relationship Between Adversity, Virtue and Well-Being

Given the persuasiveness of the lay belief "what does not kill us, makes us stronger", it is important that research assesses the veracity of this claim and provides an understanding of the psycho-social conditions that either facilitate or undermine this process of character development. In the current study, participants provided weekly reports of manifestations of open-mindedness, personal strength, appreciation of one’s life, religiosity and openness to new possibility as well as significant life events they had experienced, for one year. The experience of adversity at the weekly level had a small positive effect on state manifestations of growth-relevant characteristics.

Mark Jensen - Aristotle and the Two Thomases: Case Studies in Reappropriating Eudaimonia for Our Age

Aristotle and the Two Thomases: Case Studies in Reappropriating Eudaimonia for Our Age

On Aristotle’s view, full eudaimonia is available only to a privileged few. To the extent that it is possible for everyone to flourish, we must modify his account. While some argue that we should reject Aristotle’s metaphysical biology or his communitarian sociology, it seems to me that these approaches undercut attractive elements of his account. In this presentation, I argue that Thomas Aquinas and T.H. Green provide better models of modification. Treating these alternatives as case studies, I explain how we can develop an attractive neo-Aristotelian account of eudaimonia that is sensitive to our contemporary social and political conditions.

Mark E. Jonas - Education, Epiphanies and Human Flourishing

Education, Epiphanies and Human Flourishing

As I have argued elsewhere (Jonas 2016, 2017), Plato believes that certain kinds of dialogues can produce a temporary reorientation of individuals’ desires such that even if their characters are formed in the wrong direction, their soul’s eyes, as it were, can be temporarily opened to such a degree that they can see the inferiority of their current telos, and simultaneously see that a better telos is possible for them. In this paper I offer thoughts on the kinds of thinking teachers would need to employ in the classroom if they are to create the kinds of epiphany-stimulating dialogues Plato envisioned. First, they must have a clear sense of what the virtues are and which of the virtues they are attempting to illuminate in the classroom. Second, they must have a clear sense of the psychological barriers that will initially serve to obstruct the illumination of virtue. Third they must have a clear sense of which pedagogical principles will best overcome the psychological barriers. In this paper, I explore each of these three dimensions in an effort to provide some of the foundations of a moral education directed towards the production of potentially life-altering epiphanies in the classroom.

 

Philip Larrey - Will Technology Help Humanity Grow and Flourish?

Will Technology Help Humanity Grow and Flourish?

The paper that I would like to present at the Conference will rely on some of the arguments that I have proposed in my recent book entitled, Artificial Humanity. An Essay on the Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence (IF Press, 2019). First, the firm conviction that an Aristotelian-Thomistic framework is particularly efficacious for treating philosophical themes around AI. Second, that much literature in the popular press concerning AI ignores key accepted presuppositions that are unwarranted and unjustifiable from a philosophical point of view. Third, the nature of human consciousness continues to bewilder cognitive scientists, neuroscientists and engineers because of a majority’s view of materialism. Fourth, common-sense knowledge is not instantiable in an AI due to the AI’s lack of metaphysical access to reality.

J. Harrison Lee - A Thomistic Critique of Peter Geach's Ethical Naturalism

A Thomistic Critique of Peter Geach's Ethical Naturalism

Peter Geach argued that to be good is always to be good as a member of a species—and nothing more than this. On the contrary, I will argue that moral obligations imply that a virtuous human is good not only qua human, but also simply speaking. Aquinas’ marriage of Aristotelian and Augustinian-Platonist elements in his moral theory allows him to accommodate Geach’s insight that the goodness pursued by any created thing depends on its nature while also explaining why morals matter.

Donald McLean - Leisure, Virtue and Flourishing

Leisure, Virtue and Flourishing

For Aristotle, schole is essential to both arete and eudaimonia as leisure is instrumentally necessary for the proper development of the virtues, and leisure is also the ultimate goal of a flourishing life. However, the topic of leisure has been largely neglected in the modern virtue ethics literature, and reciprocally the field of leisure studies has paid little attention to virtue. To engender more collaborative work between virtue ethicists and leisure researchers a conceptual/empirical model will be proposed to elucidate the important relationship of leisure, virtue, and vice to flourishing and the good life.

Juan A. Mercado & Pia Valenzuela - The Teleology of Human Agency as a Basis of Flourishing: Some Hints From Anscombe and MacIntyre

The Teleology of Human Agency as a Basis of Flourishing: Some Hints From Anscombe and MacIntyre

There is a significant continuity between G.E.M. Anscombe and A.C. MacIntyre on some clue arguments regarding natural facts and human growth that attempt to overcome the limits of empiricism and naturalism regarding human agency and flourishing. The Philosophers show how teleology and the dynamic stability of human nature have a far-reaching explanatory power both for human and technical sciences. Anscombe turned her attention to “natural facts” as important markers of the optimal state of human beings. “Modern Moral Philosophy” (1958) left a lasting trace on MacIntyre, who has been working in a comprehensive view of human flourishing that includes this way of understanding human development.

Joseph Moore - Why Virtuous Activity Doesn’t Constitute Flourishing

Why Virtuous Activity Doesn’t Constitute Flourishing

An Aristotelian, virtue-based conception of human flourishing is inadequate for eudaimonist ethical theory. Ethically virtuous activities are not good candidates to be the highest ends of action, since they are paradigmatically not ends in themselves but serve to correct problems or deficiencies. Intellectually virtuous activities are not good candidate ends for a generally applicable ethical theory, since not everyone can or should aim to engage in them. A better, values-based conception identifies flourishing with successfully engaging in valuable activities one values—including social, aesthetic, and athletic activities, in addition to ethical and intellectual ones.

Claudia Navarini - The Flourishing-Happiness Connection and the Role of Hope

The Flourishing-Happiness Connection and the Role of Hope

Flourishing and happiness are semantically close, depending on what definition of happiness we assume. While happiness may have a passive meaning, flourishing always involves the development and progressive completion of one’s potential, through abilities, skills, thoughts, wishes, and will. Hope is therefore a crucial virtue sustaining flourishing. According to Snyder’s theoretical frame, it is a combination of “agency” – the will of achieving one’s reachable goals – and “pathways” – the knowledge of how to reach them. This approach helps in the face of obstacles and impediments, since evidence shows that high-hope people are more successful in finding multiple workable alternatives to achieve their goals. Furthermore, pathways and agency thoughts activate an iterative process, which determines the reinforcement of hopeful goal-directed thinking and a feedback process composed of the particular emotions that result from perceived successful or unsuccessful goal attainment. Being fundamentally cognitive, hope is not itself an emotion; instead, positive emotions flow from it. As a virtue, hope is connected with the rational and stable ability of cultivating future plans and wishes, both personal and social. Thus, it has a typical transcendent nature, appealing to the future (beyond-the-present feature) and overcoming the boundaries of our self-centered world (beyond-the-self feature). That is why hope represents such a significant resource for teen education and flourishing.

Yousra Osman - How Can Role-Modelling Character Education in Saudi Arabi be Developed and What Are the Barriers/Enablers to Feasibly Implementing?

How Can Role-Modelling Character Education in Saudi Arabi be Developed and What Are the Barriers/Enablers to Feasibly Implementing?

This paper aims to look at the methodology and results of a qualitative PhD study exploring opinions on a virtue-led character education programme, particularly role-modelling, in Saudi Arabia. It explores how virtues, role-modelling and character education in general is already taught in schools, how people believe it should be developed further, and what the barriers and enablers are in feasibly implementing a role-modelling character education programme in relation to the educational culture and policy environment. Therefore, the project on which I am embarking aims to answer the question how can a virtue-led role modelling programme in character education be developed to influence students’ moral development and what are the barriers/enablers in feasibly implementing it?

Carissa Phillips-Garrett - Virtue, Continence, and Flourishing

Virtue, Continence, and Flourishing

I argue that virtue, and not mere continence, is necessary for flourishing since the alignment between what an agent judges is right and her attitudes and feelings about that judgment are essential for explaining why a life that is good-for an agent must also be a good one. Both continent and virtuous agents appropriately know and do what is right, but the continent agent’s attitudes fail to align with her judgment of what is right, producing a lack of internal harmony that undermines her flourishing. As a result, I conclude it is virtue, and not mere continence, that is necessary for flourishing.

Margaret Rhodes & Heidrun Wulfekühler - Social Work Flourishing in a Bureaucracy

Social Work Flourishing in a Bureaucracy

Bureaucratic settings pose particularly daunting problems for social workers and some argue that flourishing is impossible. Social workers face tensions connected to the goals of responsiveness (honesty and openness), fairness (justice) and compassion towards clients, as well as efficiency for the bureaucracy. We will define the kind of (limited) flourishing essential to good social work. We respond critically to Bernardo Zacka who argues that the virtues are not helpful in direct service work and propose some ways in which social work virtues can be strengthened within bureaucracies, and how that would promote flourishing.

James Dominic Rooney - Living With Wisdom

Living With Wisdom

Flourishing is generally acknowledged to be a matter of living well. Yet in contemporary literature, there is little attention paid to the life of the mind as a component of human flourishing. Those contemporary philosophers who do examine wisdom or understanding as a virtue generally focus on the place of practical, rather than theoretical, wisdom in the good or flourishing life. While Aristotle and others have proposed controversial claims about contemplation as actualizing the highest human capacity, I will propose three uncontroversial ways in which theoretical wisdom should be held to contribute significantly to a flourishing life.

Jennifer R. Rothschild - The Disunity and Instability of Vice

The Disunity and Instability of Vice

Aristotle argues that viciousness, the worst psychological constitution, is a condition in some sense more unified and stable than its near betters, continence and incontinence. Given the foundational role of unity and stability for marking virtue, it seems we then need an argument for why the vicious person is not second in line for flourishing. In this paper I argue that psychic agreement within the vicious person is better understood as a case of solidity and not stability. The forceful creation of solidity around local, bad psychic agreements does not secure a flourishing life but is rather an obstacle to it.

Benjamin Rusch - Done 'For Their Own Sakes': Human Practices as Virtuous Actions and Their Role in the Good Life

Done 'For Their Own Sakes': Human Practices as Virtuous Actions and Their Role in the Good Life

There are good reasons to think that virtuous activity is non-instrumentally related to and thus constitutive of human flourishing. This appears to align with Aristotle’s claim that virtuous actions are characteristically chosen “for their own sakes.” However, there is some difficulty understanding just what Aristotle’s claim means. To solve this difficulty, I argue that virtuous actions can always be re-described in terms of meaningful human practices which are undertaken as ends in themselves. This means that to understand the role of virtues in the flourishing life requires giving rich description to these practices.

Satabdi Samtani, Melinda Bier, Deborah O'Reilly and Christopher Funk - Can School Administrators be Virtuous Leaders for Character Building Schools

Can School Administrators be Virtuous Leaders for Character Building Schools

We present the conceptual framework and preliminary findings for the pilot implementation of, “Can leadership virtues be taught? Developing virtuous school leaders for character building schools”. The program focuses on the development and evaluation of a Servant Leadership (SL) professional development program for Assistant Principals (APs). SL supports the universal truth that service to others quenches a spiritual thirst in people while simultaneously filling the institutional need for staff that are engaged and productive. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected from the pilot set of 12 APs. The project is funded by John Templeton Foundation and Kern Family Foundation.

Wouter Sanderse & Doret de Ruyter - An Objective Account of Individual Flourishing

An Objective Account of Individual Flourishing

On an Aristotelian account, flourishing is determined by consulting objective features of our lives. Naturalistst think that people flourish if they, as members of the human species, exercise virtues that help them to optimally deal with experiences in spheres of life. Other Aristotelians see people primarily as participants in social practices. On this account, people flourish if they exercise role virtues that help them to achieve goals internal to practices. But besides a human being and participants in practices, people can also be viewd as individuals. What does it mean for people to flourish qua individual? In this paper, several plausible objective criteria will be examined.

Nancy E. Snow - Practical Eudaimonia: Notes Toward an Empirically Informed Neo-Aristotelian Social Theory

Practical Eudaimonia: Notes Toward an Empirically Informed Neo-Aristotelian Social Theory

Can there be a theory of the good life, broadly compatible with Aristotelianism, that is suitable for contemporary liberal democratic societies characterized by citizens’ holding a multiplicity of specific conceptions of the good life, with the government remaining neutral about their value? Can such a theory be empirically informed? To craft such a theory, we need to review conceptions of eudaimonia, including empirical ones, to see whether they are a good fit for the kind of conception of flourishing that could be compatible with liberal democratic values. Doing this in a meaningful way requires a theoretical structure and a theoretical stance on content. Here I develop the structure and the stance.

Matt Stichter - Critical Reflection on a Flourishing Life

Critical Reflection on a Flourishing Life

The cultural and social environment in which we are raised already furnishes us with ideas about what it is to live well. However, this initial conception of a flourishing life is clearly not sufficient for flourishing or virtue, as one’s inherited views of these may be mistaken. Thus, I argue that we need to exercise practical wisdom, in terms of making apt value judgments, to critically reflect on our conceptions of a flourishing life. The object of an exercise of practical wisdom is one’s current conception of a flourishing life, including the conceptions of virtues that are constitutive of it.

Karen Stohr - Heroes Always Win: Virtue, Flouirishing, and Moral Education

Heroes Always Win: Virtue, Flouirishing, and Moral Education

It is a central tenet of Aristotle’s ethical theory that flourishing is impossible in the absence of virtue. This is in part because virtue informs our understanding of our circumstances. In order to see a virtuous life as a flourishing life, one has to have the correct perspective on what flourishing is. In this paper, I explore the practical implications of this idea for the moral education of children. I consider how the portrayals of heroes and superheroes in books and films can be constructively employed in the service of shaping a child’s perception of what constitutes a flourishing life.

Ezra Sullivan - "Like a Tree Planted by Water": Objections and Responses to the Flourishing Model

"Like a Tree Planted by Water": Objections and Responses to the Flourishing Model

As more thinkers turn to the analogy of flourishing to describe human excellence, including such diverse figures as Kristján Kristjánsson, Martin Seligman, and Maureen Gaffney, serious questions should be raised about the suitability of the model. There are numerous distinct advantages to a flourishing model, including scalability, integrative power, and the fact that, as a biological analogy, it accords with the taxonomical reality that humans are a species of animal. Nevertheless, two serious objections ought to be addressed. First, from the perspective of policy-making, deontological ethics has, prima facie, an advantage, for rules of behavior are more specific and concrete in implementation, and therefore can be more easily fostered and measured. Second, from the perspective of theological ethics, the notion of flourishing seems to overlook final outcomes and divine intervention for humans to reach their greatest capacities. I address both of these objections in light of philosophical and theological resources, drawn in part from the thought of Thomas Aquinas.

Natasza Szutta - Is Eudaimonian Ethics Egoistic?

Is Eudaimonian Ethics Egoistic?

When justifying morality, eudaimonian ethicists refer to the goal of human life, understood as the achievement of eudaimonia, one’s fulfillment in humanely typical functions. It is often objected that such a view focuses on the good of the agent while ignoring the good of the recipient of the action. This criticism comes down to the objection that eudaimonian ethics promotes egoistic attitudes. Must every kind of ethics that is focused on the agent, by definition, be primarily focused on the realization of the agent’s interests? In my presentation, I am going to show reasons for the negative answer to the above question.

Koji Tachibana - The Third Socrates

The Third Socrates

Putting aside his historical figure, Socrates’ notion of virtue and happiness are vividly exhibited in his apology and death (Plato’s Apology, Crito, and Phaedo; Xenophon’s Memorabilia). However, such an exhibition suggests the third face of Socrates, which we would not appreciate because it is against our understanding of virtue and happiness. Conducting a thought experiment that can summon the third Socrates to our court, this presentation aims to elucidate the tension between virtue and happiness. As a social implication of this argument, it will also mention the possibility of virtuous AI-robot that can tell uncomfortable truth for human beings.

Craig Steven Titus - A Meta-Model of the Person as a Framework for Virtue, Flourishing, and Mental Health

A Meta-Model of the Person as a Framework for Virtue, Flourishing, and Mental Health

This paper addresses three questions. First, how might making a meta-model of the person explicit —from an ultimate, spiritual, religious perspective—serve mental health and flourishing? Second, how might an explicit treatment of a Catholic Christian meta-model with its anthropological premises promote a coherent understanding of the person for mental health practice? Third, what benefits come from the interplay of two of these premises, one that is familiar (“virtues lead to flourishing”) and one that is less familiar (“vocations lead to flourishing”). The presentation focuses on the benefits of an understanding of the person and interpersonal relationships that is integrated, non-reductionist, and systematic.

Maria Silva Vaccarezza & Angelo Campodonico - Paths to Flourishing: Ancient Models of the Exemplary Life

Paths to Flourishing: Ancient Models of the Exemplary Life

It is increasingly argued that exemplary individuals present us with a model of flourishing which enables admirers to undertake an emulative path to moral improvement. However, it is seldom if ever discussed which models of exemplarity such proposals refer to, and, consequently, which theoretical and practical functions the exemplars they point to should play. In our talk we will present three ancient paths to flourishing via reference to exemplary individuals: (i) the Platonic mimesis of ideal models, (ii) the Aristotelian phronimos, and (iii) the Stoic heritage focused on imitation of the sage.

Tyler J. VanderWeele - The Contribution of Character to Other Aspects of Flourishing: An Examination of Empirical Evidence

The Contribution of Character to Other Aspects of Flourishing: An Examination of Empirical Evidence

The present paper will examine empirical evidence from different countries and settings for the effects of character, over time, on the other dimensions of flourishing. The analyses use data on a flourishing measure (VanderWeele, PNAS, 2017;31:8148-8156) covering the domains of happiness, health, meaning, character, and close relationships. The empirical research contributes to our understanding of how it is that character shapes other aspects of well-being. The empirical work also helps make the case that workplaces, schools, medical practices, and empirical researchers should all care about, pay attention to, study, and try to promote the formation of good character.

Candace Vogler - Virtue, Happiness, and Desire for the Highest Good

Virtue, Happiness, and Desire for the Highest Good

In this essay I sketch a call for reviving thought about the highest good in mainstream Anglophone practical philosophy, drawing on work by John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant in making my case. I work to address a variety of objections to any such revival, to review some standard responses, and to introduce additional support for the thought that we need thought about the highest good to do our work in moral philosophy and, moreover, that flourishing in accordance with virtue is the most likely candidate for the highest good.

Ingimar Ólafsson Waage - The Prospects of Flourishing as an Educational Aim: An Insight into the Value of Artworks for Moral Deliberation on Life‘s Challenges

The Prospects of Flourishing as an Educational Aim: An Insight into the Value of Artworks for Moral Deliberation on Life‘s Challenges

While flourishing as an educational aim is challenging, the arts are helpful in that respect. The visual arts have a role to play through some of their notable qualities such as imitation and representation, including cognitive and emotional aspects, and as a worthwhile pursuit in themselves. According to my research, artworks promote critical thinking on moral issues, induce affective responses to virtues such as courage and empathy, admiration of character strengths, and general sensitivity to moral and personal challenges. Furthermore, through art creation, participants in my research displayed significant disposition to conceptualize ethical concepts and express existential, emotional challenges in their artworks.

Lani Watson - Promoting an Intellectually Flourishing Classroom by Educating for Questioning

Promoting an Intellectually Flourishing Classroom by Educating for Questioning

I argue that good questioning is a key component of the intellectually flourishing life and explore the implications of this for educational theory and practice. There is little doubt that questioning plays a central role in our daily lives. It is an essential skill for gathering information, helping us to learn, communicate, understand our world and participate as democratic citizens. Yet educational practices and institutions focus on teaching students the skills required for answering questions, rather than those required for raising, refining and pursuing them. I argue that we should rethink this dominant answer-oriented education model and educate for good questioning.

Bethan Willis & Edward Brooks - The Role of Place in Human Flourishing and Character Formation in Unviersity Education

The Role of Place in Human Flourishing and Character Formation in Unviersity Education

This paper brings historic insights from Judaeo-Christian thought into conversation with environmental psychology and student development in order to consider the importance of place for character formation and flourishing in university education. We argue that a certain relationship to place is integral to human flourishing and important for the cultivation of virtue, exploring the particular importance in university contexts, where place attachment may be low. Finally, we explore how considerations of place might be included in practical approaches to character formation in university education.

Matthew F. Wilson - The Priority of Virtue Among Five Aspects of Human Flourishing

The Priority of Virtue Among Five Aspects of Human Flourishing

The Human Flourishing Program maintains a model of human flourishing that includes five constitute elements – one of which virtue. This paper considers whether virtue has any conceptual priority among the model’s other elements (happiness and life satisfaction, physical and mental health, meaning and purpose, and close social relationships) and whether there any virtues that are good for their own sake, independent of their contributions to one of these other elements? If so, in what ways are such virtues good for their own sake? The paper also considers the ways in which these other dimensions may be preconditions for the development of virtue itself.

Sarah Winch, Leo Seoane, Nikki Blackwell and Gordy Schiff - Flat-Lining Not Flourishing: Can the Virtues Help the Crisis in Medical Wellbeing?

Flat-Lining Not Flourishing: Can the Virtues Help the Crisis in Medical Wellbeing?

Increasing levels of burnout and suicide attest to the crisis in medical wellbeing in western healthcare. As practising clinicians we have experienced the structural changes repositioning and subverting the traditional virtues imbued, therapeutic patient relationship known to provide deep flourishing for the physician. We explore the contribution the virtues can make to promote flourishing in medicine individually and structurally, using theories from post-structuralism and the sociology of work. Virtues need repositioning from the periphery to the centre of medical redesign. Examples will be presented for discussion.