Professor Kristján Kristjánsson and Dr. Liz Gulliford give papers at Conference 14th March 2014 Jubilee Centre Conference

‘Can Psychology Replace Ethics’, an interdisciplinary symposium held at the University of Tübingen 8th-15th March 2014, explores the risks and potentials of the findings on “rationality vs. intuition” from the field of moral psychology in terms of how they affect our ethical self-image and decision-making practices.


Professor Kristján Kristjánsson, Deputy Director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Values, gives a keynote talk titled ‘The ‘New Synthesis in Moral Psychology’ versus Aristotelianism: Content and Consequences’; please find the abstract below:

Abstract: “The aim of this paper is to explore the social consequences of recent developments in moral psychology aimed at psychologising morality: developments that Jonathan Haidt terms ‘the new synthesis’ (NS). As a prelude, I diagnose what in the content of the NS undergirds those consequences and how it differs from the Aristotelian alternatives with which it is commonly contrasted. More specifically, I explore the NS’s take on moral ontology, moral motivation, moral ecology and moral domains. In all cases, I deem the response offered by the NS to radical rationalism hyperbolic and argue that Aristotelianism provides a more plausible, if more moderate, alternative. In the final section, I address the putative social consequences of the NS, both general consequences for public conceptions of the moral life and more specific consequences for moral education at school. In both cases, I argue that the consequences of adopting the NS position range from the unfortunate to the outright pernicious.”

Dr. Liz Gulliford, a Research Fellow at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Values, presents a paper titled ‘Psychology’s Contribution to Ethics: Two Case Studies’; please find the abstract below:

Abstract: “This paper will argue that psychology cannot replace ethics. However it will be argued, with reference to two case studies, that the empirical investigation of human morality can offer an important contribution to ethics. First, an empirical approach can illuminate matters of definition. Secondly, it will be shown that psychology can elucidate the processes by which ethically desirable ends might be facilitated. For instance, psychological approaches to forgiveness may help to expedite the ethical ideal of forgiveness.”  You can read the full abstract here.

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