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Center for Policy Studies

Public Affairs Discussion Group

The Case for Neuroethics: How Science Might Reinvent Ethics

Anthony Jack, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science, Philosophy, and Psychology and Director of the Brain, Mind and Consciousness Laboratory at Case Western Reserve University

Friday April 8, 2011
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Crawford Hall - Room 9
Inamori Center
Case Western Reserve University


The idea that science can inform ethics may look like an error. According to the British philosopher G.E. Moore, you can't get "an ought from an is." And, to confuse what is good with some set of physical properties is to commit the naturalistic fallacy. Neuroscience does not challenge these claims. On the contrary, Professor Jack will show how recent findings in cognitive neuroscience support the separation of the physical and moral. He will argue that cognitive neuroscience promises to revolutionize ethical thought, potentially informing every aspect from theoretical underpinnings to the practical implementation of ethical programs. The case for neuroethics is analogous to the case for neuroeconomics. Economists have realized they need to replace their flawed model of rational self-interested man with a scientifically inspired account of the actual processes that influence economic decision making. Ethical theories also have commitments to specific views about human nature. Although these aren't always stated explicitly, it should be obvious that something is wrong with a moral theory that has the effect of actively discouraging ethical thought and behavior. Surprisingly, recent findings suggest that a major class of ethical theories suffer from just this problem.

Sponsored by the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence

A Special Announcement About Parking...

Dear Colleagues:

As many of you noticed last Friday, work is being done on the visitors parking lot between Amasa Stone Chapel and Crawford Hall. The work is expected to continue until the end of April, and so through the end of this Spring's Friday Lunch schedule.

The last few weekly e-mails attempted to notify recipients that parking would be extremely limited, if available at all, through the end of the term. I am very sorry for anyone who was not aware and so was turned away. Because of this construction I do not think anyone should expect parking to be available in that lot on either April 8, 15, or 22.

Unfortunately, the work in the parking lot is part of a larger plan to install parking meters and eliminate free parking except by guests of particular administrative units of the university. The policy has been announced in Case Daily, at http://parking.case.edu/parking/vic.htm. We (meaning the CPS and the College of Arts and Sciences) have received no information about the rates that will be charged on the meters, or the time available on the meters, once they are installed.

I will be working at long distance and after my return to identify any way that some spaces could be reserved for Friday Lunch guests without charge. I cannot promise success. As there is no other free parking on campus, I do not think it makes sense to try to move next year's Friday Lunch programs to another venue, but of course I will be checking out any possible ways to make the situation more convenient, especially for people with mobility concerns.

Please accept my apologies for this inconvenience.

Best regards,
Joe White

More About Our Guest...

Professor Anthony Jack has a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology and extensive training in Philosophy and Neuroscience. He started out doing largely theoretical work on consciousness, but then got interested by the emerging field of brain imaging. Professor Jack uses fMRI to study attention, consciousness and social processing in the brain.

Anthony Jacks's Brain, Mind and Consciousness laboratory investigates high-level cognitive processes using brain imaging (fMRI), behavior and introspective reports. His lab is particularly interested in areas of overlap, as well as separation, between psychological processes involved in social cognition, mechanical reasoning, attention and self-awareness.

The work of the lab is informed by neuroscience, psychology and philosophy. The laboratory is situated in the transdisciplinary Department of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University; and part of Case's Cognitive Neuroscience Initiative. The Cognitive Science's department is involved in collaborations across the University and beyond, including the Department of Neurology in the Medical School, the Department of Organizational Behavior in the Weatherhead School of Management, and the departments of Communication Sciences and Philosophy in Arts and Sciences.

Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:

April 15: Mark Naymik, Reporter, Cleveland Plain Dealer: Ohio's Budget Battle

April 22: Jon Groetzinger, Visiting Professor of Law and Director, China Legal Programs: Developing the Legal Profession in China.

The Friday Lunch discussions are held on the lower (ground) level of Crawford Hall. Visitors with mobility issues may find it easiest to take advantage of special arrangements we have made. On most Fridays, a few parking spaces in the V.I.P. lot in between Crawford Hall and Amasa Stone Chapel are held for participants in the lunch discussion. Overflow parking is also available in the Severance Hall parking garage on East Boulevard.

Visitors then can avoid walking up the hill to the first floor of Crawford by entering the building on the ground level, through the garage area under the building. The further door on the left in that garage will be left unlocked during the period before the Friday lunch. On occasion, parking will be unavailable because of other university events.

For more information about these and other Center for Policy Studies programs, please see http://policy.case.edu.

April 4, 2011

Upcoming Events

Creativity, Copyright, and the Universal Library: Romanticism and Writing at Times of Media Revolution

Adrian Johns, Ph.D., Professor of History at the University of Chicago, April 12, 2011, 4:00 p.m., Moot Courtroom (A59), Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 11075 East Blvd., Cleveland, Ohio. Organized by the Center for the Study of Writing in conjunction with the Department of English, the Department of History, the School of Law, and the Kelvin Smith Library at Case Western Reserve University.

Google's ambition to produce a massive online 'library' of digitized books has provoked passionate reactions from the publishing industry, authors, and other groups. In fact, debates over the purpose and possible impact of 'universal' libraries are nothing new, and in the past such debates have had a significant impact on the constitution of the information economy itself. I want to draw attention to a particularly consequential conflict, which raged in the years around 1800. As publishing took on its modern form, and with the advent of new printing technologies, Britain's parliament proposed that copyright law be used to create a universal deposit library. Tying commercial print to the collection of learning would, in its eyes, lead to the climax of Enlightenment. But the project proved unexpectedly controversial. An alliance of poets, antiquarians, naturalists, and publishers fought bitterly against the scheme, arguing on Romantic grounds that it betrayed the very nature of creativity. By collecting the output of an industrial, proprietary publishing sector, it would immortalize mediocrity and demoralize future generations. The outcome of the contest was a critically important change in copyright itself -- one that has survived to play a major role in shaping the Google debate, in our own moment of radical change in media and information.

Democratic Peace and War in Africa: A Comparison of Risk, Reciprocity, and Citizenship in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire

Professor Lauren M. MacLean, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Indiana Thursday April 14, 2011 4:30-6:00 p.m. Mandel Center Building, Room 115 11402 Bellflower Road Cleveland, OH. This program is sponsored by the Center for Policy Studies and made possible by the generosity of Ms. Eloise Briskin.

Professor Lauren MacLean will discuss the divergent paths of democratization in neighboring Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. Why has Ghana turned over power to the opposition in peaceful, competitive elections while Cote d'Ivoire has been wracked with ethno-regional civil war? Rather than focus on the roles of international mediators and national political elites, she will take us to rural villages in very similar regions on either side of the border for an analysis of everyday politics at the grassroots. Based on eighteen months of survey research and in-depth interviews at the village level, her findings point to the key role of changing informal institutions of reciprocity (that is, the way village residents exchange help with their families, friends and neighbors) in shaping differences in indigenous notions of citizenship and political participation in neighboring Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire.

April 2011








































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