Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology Lecture Series - Mark Johnson: Moral Imagination

Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Venue: JO 2.604
Admission: Free
Season: 2017-18


About the Lecture:

Recent moral psychology and cognitive science has called into question some of our most deeply entrenched views about moral deliberation, such as the view that moral reasoning involves a calculation of which action would produce the most good. After decades of neglect by moral theorists, the idea that moral cognition is a fundamentally imaginative process is gaining empirical support. I will survey this turn toward moral imagination, and develop John Dewey’s conception of moral deliberation as imaginative dramatic rehearsal, in which we imagine how various scenarios would play out under the influence of certain values. I explore some cognitive science research that reveals the central role of empathic imagination and sees moral reasoning as being more like art than rational calculation.

About the Author:

Mark Johnson is the Philip H. Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oregon. His research has focused on the philosophical implications of the role of human embodiment in meaning, conceptualization, reasoning, and values, especially from the perspective of the interaction of embodied cognitive science and pragmatist philosophy. His latest work develops a naturalistic account of human morality that emphasizes the role of moral imagination. He is co-author, with George Lakoff, of Metaphors We Live By (1980) and Philosophy in the Flesh (1999) and author of The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason (1987), Moral Imagination: Implications of Cognitive Science for Ethics (1993), The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding (2007), and Morality for Humans: Ethical Understanding from the Perspective of Cognitive Science (2014).


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