2010 Morality and the Mind: Cognitive Science and Policy

A symposium bringing leading cognitive scientists and policy analysts together to explore the cognitive science of morality and its implications for economic policy, legal and juridical practice, and diplomacy.

The Morality and the Mind Symposium is a collaborative effort between the Synaptics Scholar Program of the Institute for Global Leadership and the Center for Cognitive Studies.

Symposium Schedule
Saturday, October 16

9:00am Welcome and Introduction Sherman Teichman, Director, Institute for Global Leadership
Jamshed Bharucha, Provost, Tufts University
Austin Siadak A’10, Synaptic Scholar, IGL
9:10am Morality in the context of human social cognition
Ray Jackendoff, Tufts University
9:45am Why this issue is compelling
Perspectives from policy analysts
10:40am Session I Moderator: Benjamin Perlstein A’13, Synaptic Scholar, IGL
10:45am The Definition of Morality: Why it matters ... and why it might not exist
Stephen Stich, Rutgers University
11:30am Just Babies Paul Bloom, Yale University
12:20pm Commentary William Martel, The Fletcher School, Tufts University
Michael Vlahos, United States War College
12:50pm General Discussion
3:00pm Session II Moderator: Nick Stratton A’11, Synaptic Scholar, IGL
3:05pm Are Monkeys Moral? Laurie Santos, Yale University
3:50pm What Can Evolution Teach Us About Morality?
Robert Boyd, University of California, Los Angeles
4:40pm Commentary Jack Blum, Tax Justice Network Gwyn Prins, London School of Economics
5:10pm General Discussion
Sunday, October 17
9:30am Session III Moderator: Nadia Nibbs A’11, Synaptic Scholar, IGL
9:35am Morally constrained behavior: Where from, and who decides?
Marcel Kinsbourne, Tufts University and The New School
10:20am The sophisticated legislator’s dilemma: Optimal taxes and subsidies when incentives affect preferences Samuel Bowles, Santa Fe Institute and University of Siena
11:40am ‘Any Animal Whatever’: Harmful Battery and its Elements as Building Blocks of Human and Nonhuman Moral Cognition
John Mikhail, Georgetown Law School
12:30pm Commentary Leon Fuerth, The George Washington University
Pervez Hoodbhoy, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad
1:00pm General Discussion
1:30pm Concluding Statements

Participant Biographies

Jamshed Bharucha, Provost and Senior Vice President of Tufts University; former John Wentworth Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth University; his research has focused on the cognitive and neural basis of the perception of music, using perceptual experiments, neural net modeling, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology at Yale University; his research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art

Samuel Bowles, Research Professor at the Santa Fe Institute where he heads the Behavioral Sciences Program; his recent studies on cultural and genetic evolution have challenged the conventional economic assumption that people are motivated entirely by self-interest; he has served as an economic advisor to the governments of Cuba, South Africa and Greece, to presidential candidates Robert F. Kennedy and Jesse Jackson, to the Congress of South African Trade Unions and to South African President Nelson Mandela

Robert Boyd, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles; his research is focused on the evolutionary psychology of the mechanisms that give rise to and shape human culture, and how these mechanisms interact with population dynamic processes to shape human cultural variation

Jack Blum, a Washington lawyer who specializes on issues of money laundering, financial crime, and international tax evasion; he spent fourteen years as a Senate investigator with the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Leon Fuerth, Director of the Project on Forward Engagement at The George Washington University and a professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs; former national security adviser to Vice President Al Gore

Pervez Hoodbhoy, a faculty member at the Department of Physics, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad since 1973; author of Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality, now in five languages

Ray Jackendoff, Seth Merrin Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University; his research centers around the system of meaning in natural language, how it is related to the human conceptual system, and how it is expressed linguistically, he has worked on the conceptualization of space, on the relationship between language, perception, and consciousness, and, most recently, on the conceptualization of such socially grounded concepts as value, morality, fairness, and obligations

Marcel Kinsbourne, an Austrian-born pediatric neurologist and neuroscientist who was an early pioneer in the study of brain lateralization; Professor of Psychology at both The New School in New York City and the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts; former President of the International Neuropsychology Society and of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology

William C. Martel, Associate Professor of International Security Studies at The Fletcher School at Tufts University; former principal investigator on a space policy study with support from MIT Lincoln Laboratory (2007-2009)

John Mikhail, Professor of Law at Georgetown University; former Lecturer and Research Affiliate in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Gwyn Prins, Research Professor at the London School of Economics and the Director of the LSE Mackinder Programme for the Study of Long Wave Events

Laurie R. Santos, Associate Professor of Psychology at Yale University; her research explores the evolutionary origins of the human mind by comparing the cognitive abilities of human and non-human primates

Stephen Stich, Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University and currently an Honorary Professor of the department of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield; his main philosophical interests are in the philosophy of mind, cognitive science, epistemology, and moral psychology

Sherman Teichman, founding Executive Director of the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University Michael Vlahos, Professor of Strategy at the United States Naval War College; author of Fighting Identity: Sacred War and World Change, a multi-faceted analysis of how war—as sacred ritual—shapes collective identity