Michael Spezio

Michael Spezio

'Forming Identities of Grace: Cognitive and Neural Models of a Self-for-Others in Communities of Dedicated Forgiveness and Reconciliation'

Is the self fundamentally selfish? Contemporary theories of altruism presume an egoistic and individualistic notion of the self. Dr. Michael Spezio argues for new approaches to the science of the moral life by engaging human communities dedicated to love and compassion.

This lecture was held on Friday, September 2, 2016 at the University of Notre Dame. Responses were given by Mark D. Fox (IU School of Medicine) and William C. Mattison, III (Notre Dame). This lecture was made possible by the Henkels Lecture Fund, Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, College of Arts & Letters, University of Notre Dame, and the Templeton Religion Trust.


Michael Spezio is Associate Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience and head of the Laboratory for Inquiry into Valuation and Emotion (LIVE) at Scripps College in Claremont, CA. He is also a Visiting Researcher with the Valuation in the Human Brain Group at the Institute for Systems Neuroscience of the University Medical Center in Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany. Dr. Spezio works in the areas of social, affective, and decision-valuation neuroscience and has published articles in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Journal of Neuroscience, the Oxford journal Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience, and Neuropsychologia. In addition to experimental work, his interdisciplinary interests include philosophy of mind, moral philosophy and ethics, religious studies, and theology. He co-edited both the Routledge Companion to Religion and Science (2012) and Theology and the Science of Moral Action: Virtue Ethics, Exemplarity, and Cognitive Neuroscience (Routledge, 2012). He also co-edits the journal Philosophy, Theology, and the Sciences (Mohr Siebeck). As an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Dr. Spezio seeks to integrate neuroscience, contemplation, and wisdom traditions as a Senior Research Fellow with the Mind and Life Institute in Charlottesville, VA and through his participation in The New Dialogues at Snowmass on the Future of Religion and (Inter)Spirituality. He has served on the Advisory Board of the John Templeton Foundation and is currently an advisory board member of the Center for Theology, Science, and Human Flourishing.