June 2016 Summer Seminar "Virtue and Happiness"

We will host two summer seminars geared toward early career researchers and advanced doctoral students in Philosophy, Psychology, and Theology/Religious Studies.

June 12-17, 2016 - Topic: "Virtue and Happiness"

Location: Moreau Seminary, University of Notre Dame

Photos from the 2016 Summer Seminar on our Flickr page

Interviews, live tweeting, and more from the 2016 Summer Seminar on the Virtue Blog

Accepted students for the 2016 Summer Seminar "Virtue & Happiness"

Applications for the 2016 Summer Seminar are closed. For information about applying to the 2017 Summer Seminar, click here.

The Seminar is intended for outstanding advanced-level graduate students and early career researchers in the areas of Philosophy, Psychology, and Theology/Religious Studies. Our aim is to involve participants in our innovative and collaborative research framework within these three fields, and to provide an engaged environment to deepen and enliven their own research.

This seminar was supported by  a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation and our institutional partner the Jacques Maritain Center, and includes lodging, meals, tuition, and reimbursement up to $500  for travel. Accepted participants are asked to pay a $200 registration fee.

Faculty leaders and topics for the 2016 seminar "Virtue & Happiness"


Owen Flanagan is James B. Duke University Professor of Philosophy at Duke University.  He works in philosophy of mind, ethics, and comparative philosophy.  His book, The Geography of Morals: Varieties of Moral Possibility will be published by Oxford University Press next year.

1. The Four Sprouts of Virtue in Mengzi:

Mencius, 4th c. BCE thinks there are four sprouts in human nature that if cultivated by the self and one’s community yield the virtues prized by Confucian ethics.  The virtues are not sufficient for a good human life, but they are necessary.  We’ll read and selections from Mencius and compare and contrast his view with modern psychological theories that posit sprout like foundations or modules upon which all moralities are built.

2. Destructive Emotions?:
Aristotle thought anger is a virtue if contained, if it is moderate, at the mean. Stoics such as Seneca challenged the Aristotelian view, arguing that anger should be (and can be) eliminated.  Shantideva (8th c. CE), an important India Buddhist, made similar arguments for the elimination of anger in an entirely different tradition.  We’ll discuss the Aristotelian, Stoic, and Buddhist views as well as objections and replies.


Jennifer A. Frey is Assistant Professor of Philosophy  at the University of South Carolina and principal investigator with Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life.  Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at UofSC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and an affiliated faculty in the philosophy department.  She earned her PhD in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with Classics minor) at Indiana University-Bloomington. Her research lies at the intersection of philosophy of action and ethics, with a particular focus on the Aristotelian-Thomist tradition.

Action, Practical Reason, and Happiness:

We will explore the role that a general conception of happiness plays in the explanation of human action and in an account of practical reason.  We will focus on writings from Thomas Aquinas and Elizabeth Anscombe, and we will put these into dialogue with contemporary action theorists and ethicists.  

Darcia Narvaez USE4.jpg

Darcia Narvaez is Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame. She publishes extensively on moral development and education. Her most recent book is Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom (2014, Norton). She is executive editor of the Journal of Moral Education. She also writes a popular blog for Psychology Today (“Moral Landscapes”).

1. Neurobiology and moral development:

Neurobiological sciences provide increasing empirical evidence that early experience shapes capacities for sociality. These also influence morality and we can now delineate how moral development can go awry and how to at last partially repair it.

2. Ecological virtue and organic morality:

Humanity spent 99% of its history in small-band hunter-gatherer societies. These societies all around the world provide an early "nest" for their young that is slightly more intense than what emerged with social mammals over 30 million years ago. The species typical nest leads to a species typical human health, personality and nature whereas a species-atypical nest leads to the types of maladaptation and pathology seen in advanced nations like the USA.


Michael S. Sherwin, O.P., is Professor of Fundamental Moral Theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.  He has also taught at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, where he received his initial formation as a Dominican and was ordained a priest in 1991.  Fr. Sherwin is director of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Institute for Theology and Culture and of the Pinckaers Archives.  Author of articles on the psychology of love, virtue ethics and moral development, his monograph, By Knowledge and By Love: Charity and Knowledge in the Moral Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas (CUA Press, 2005) has newly been reissued in paperback.

1. Virtue Transformed: A Christian Account of Human Excellence:

The account of character formation and moral development advanced by recent studies in philosophy and psychology offer a wonderfully helpful preparation for the Christian conception of the moral life.  They prepare us both to see how grace heals and elevates human nature and to recognize the difference that grace makes: the exclusivity and self-sufficiency of the pagan ideal of virtue gives way in Christ to universality and divine dependence, a dependence that makes possible a life of moral excellent beyond what even the most brilliant pagan philosopher could have imagined: intimate friendship with God in a life that participates in the economy of salvation.  This session offers an introduction to this fully Christian vision of moral development proper to the infused virtues of faith, hope, charity and the other infused virtues that belong to the Christian life.

2. On Love and Happiness: An Introduction to a Renewed Understanding of Christian Charity and Heavenly Beatitude:

What does it mean to love God and neighbor, and what is the relationship between this love and God’s love for us?  Throughout the long history of Christian reflection on the character of Christian charity (agape), there has been a tension between love as desire and love as service.  Is charity primarily the desire for God as our happiness and fulfilment, or is it exclusively the service of God, that seeks nothing for itself?  Or is there a third element to charity that incorporates both service and desire, placing each in its proper perspective: love as the celebration and affirmation of the other?  This session offers an introductory treatment of these questions by proposing both a renewed psychology of love and a renewed theology of charity’s relationship to Christ and his cross as the true and living way to heavenly beatitude. 

VHML Candace Vogler photo by Marc Monaghan20150918_0001_1.jpg

Candace Vogler is the David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Philosophy and Professor in the College at the University of Chicago, and a principal investigator with Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life. She has authored two books, John Stuart Mill's Deliberative Landscape: An essay in moral psychology (Routledge, 2001) and Reasonably Vicious (Harvard University Press, 2002), and essays in ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy and literature, cinema, psychoanalysis, gender studies, sexuality studies, and other areas. Her research interests are in practical philosophy (particularly the strand of work in moral philosophy indebted to Elizabeth Anscombe), practical reason, Kant's ethics, Marx, and neo-Aristotelian naturalism.

Self-Transcendence and Virtue:

On a roughly Thomist account, acquired virtue aims at the common good and is, to that extent, inherently self-transcendent.  I am interested in considering whether the link goes in the other direction as well--are all of the forms of self-transcendent activity and engagement we are considering virtuous? Are they expressive of specific virtues? Are they linked in a more general way to cultivated good character?  On the understanding we have been using, we can't have virtue without an element of self-transcendence.  Can we have self-transcendence without virtue?

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Accepted Students for the 2016 Summer Seminar, "Virtue & Happiness"

Amichai Amit, University of Chicago
Tom Angier, University of Cape Town
Olivia Bailey, Harvard University
Samuel Baker, University of South Alabama
Brian Ballard, University of Pittsburgh
Anne Baril, University of New Mexico
Ryan Darr, Yale University
Mihailis Diamantis, New York University
Matthew Dugandzic, The Catholic University of America
Kristina Grob, Loyola University
Sukaina Hirji, Princeton University
Indrawati Liauw, Stanford University
Charles Lockwood, Oberlin College
John Meinert, Our Lady of the Lake College
Santiago Mejia, University of Chicago
Parisa Moosavi, University of Toronto
Kathryn Phillips, Rochester University
Dmitri Putilin, Duke University
Hollen Reischer, Northwestern University
Leland Saunders, Seattle Pacific University
Joshua Skorburg, University of Oregon
Sungwoo Um, Duke University
Jason Welle, Georgetown University
Yuan Yuan, Yale University
Wenqing Zhao, Duke University

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2017 Summer Seminar - "Virtue, Happiness, and Self-Transcendence" 

June 18 (arrive) - 23, 2017, University of Chicago