Call for Papers – Practicing Science: Virtues, Values, and the Good Life

Author: Katie Zakas Rutledge

9–12 August 2018
London Global Gateway
London, UK

Call for Papers

Over the last several decades, virtue has attracted increased attention from philosophers, theologians, and psychologists. However, little of this research on virtue has attended to the development and function of virtue within scientific research and practice.

This lacuna is surprising given that science has been linked with virtue for much of its history. Philosophers from ancient Greece through to the medieval period saw the study of the natural world as a means to develop particular intellectual and moral virtues. Indeed, though the conception of science changed dramatically during the early modern period, scholars continued to see such ties well into the nineteenth century; the study and practice of scientific research was understood both to demand certain virtues and simultaneously to cultivate those virtues. While the language of virtue largely disappeared from discussions of science in the twentieth century, closer inspection reveals that moral dispositions and judgments continue to play a significant role in scientific practice (though perhaps in quite different ways), and that scientists continue to value specific cognitive and behavioral dispositions.

Since 2016, a multi-disciplinary research team at the University of Notre Dame, led by Celia Deane-Drummond, Darcia Narvaez, and Tom Stapleford, has been exploring the relationship between virtue and scientific practice with a particular focus on laboratory research in biology (project website). As this project, funded by the Templeton Religion Trust, draws to a close, we invite other interested scholars to join us for a conference on Practicing Science: Virtues, Values, and the Good Life to be held  9–12 August 2018 at the University of Notre Dame Gateway in London, UK. The project team welcomes proposals for contributed papers addressing any aspect of the conference theme. Potential research questions include:

  • How can the language of virtue enrich, change, or challenge our understanding of science?
  • Does the contemporary practice of scientific research require or bolster certain virtues (or vices)?
  • How can ideas drawn from virtue ethics or virtue epistemology illuminate (and perhaps improve) the training and mentoring of scientists?

Paper presentations will be 15 minutes, with an additional 10 minutes for discussion.

Confirmed keynote speakers, panelists, invited guests include:

Public Lectures

Prof. Kristján Kristjánsson, Deputy Director
Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham

Dr. Andrew Pinsent, Research Director
Ian Ramsey Centre for Science & Religion, University of Oxford

Prof. Matthew Stanley
Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University

Keynote Address

Prof. Michael Spezio, Associate Professor of Psychology
Scripps College

Panelists & Discussants

Dr. Anna Abram, Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology
Dr. Markus Christen, University of Zurich
Prof. Oliver Davies, King’s College London
Dr. Fern Elsdon Baker, Newman University
The Most Revd. Dr. Antje Jackelén, Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala in Sweden and Primate of the Church of Sweden
Prof. Darcia Narvaez, University of Notre Dame
Prof. Tom Stapleford, University of Notre Dame
Prof. Michael Welker, Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg

Conference Registration 

The registration fee ($100 faculty / $50 postdoctoral fellows / $25 students) will include evening receptions, coffee/tea breaks, lunch on Friday, and the opportunity to attend a special screening of The Unfolding Cosmos in Hildegard of Bingen at the Peter Harris Planetarium on Friday night, 10 August. Registration will open in spring 2018.

Proposal Submissions - DEADLINE EXTENDED

To submit a proposal, please send a title, abstract (no more than 250 words), and short c.v. to by February 15, 2018. Decisions about contributed proposals will be communicated to applicants by March 15, 2018.

Call for Proposals - London Conference Updated (PDF, 141k) 

Further details of the conference program will be published in due course.