Graham School Events

First Friday Lecture: What Makes Us Better? Ethical Approaches and Happiness


There are a large number of conflicting approaches to ethics in philosophical discourses. Historically, the philosophers themselves relied on the best knowledge and science available, but often when we teach them or reflect on them today, they are presented as they were hundreds or thousands of years ago, in their bare bones, so to speak. This has its real value, enabling us to understand the assumptions behind an approach and how it comes together into a system of seeing the world; at the same time, it’s also valuable to move forward and consider what the contemporary human sciences have to say about basic ethical claims and assumptions. This talk will take up the questions: How do recent studies in psychology and neuroscience help shed light on the essential questions of human choice, motivation, and happiness? And what does this have to tell us about how to approach living a good life in all its senses?

Presented by:

Clare Pearson did graduate work with the University’s Committee on Social Thought and pursues interdisciplinary work centering especially on ethical questions and experiences. She chaired the Basic Program from 2004 to 2008 and co-designed and chaired the Asian Classics Program from 2006 to 2009. Pearson received the 2013 Graham School Excellence in Teaching Award.

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Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults