WFU Reading Groups

Colloquium: "How do Moral Beacons Foster Community?"

"How do Moral Beacons Foster Community?" Hanesbrand Theater in Winston-Salem, NC on April 17th and 18th, 2018

Event Purpose: Recent years have seen an increased interest in the study of “moral beacons,” or the morally exceptional in society. However, current society is characterized by a lack of agreement over the nature of community, and disagreement over fundamental questions of identity, citizenship and ideology. This raises the question of whether moral beacons do in fact play a positive role in fostering character and community development. Such a discussion would help facilitate discussion of important questions including the following: Do moral beacons enable people to work across differences that exist across different communities (as moral beacons such as Martin Luther King Jr. did), or does the current climate mean that our silo-ed communities are doomed to have its own moral beacons? Can “moral beacons” foster positive societal change? Is a dearth of moral beacons in contemporary society indicative of deeper problems in our community? We believe that the time is ripe for a discussion of the role “moral beacons” have in fostering community and dialogue across different communities, as well as their place in contemporary society.

Campus Reading Group

In order to involve the wider Wake Forest community in this project and to spread interest in the morally exceptional across disciplines, the Beacon Project held a weekly campus reading group on moral excellence during the 2015-2016 academic year. There was considerable interest in participating, and the group consisted of 21 WFU faculty members, with 10-15 attending each meeting.

Papers discussed:
  1. Monroe, K. R. (2011). Ethics in an age of terror and genocide: identity and moral choice. PS: Political Science & Politics, 44(03), 503-507.
  2. Cohen, T. R., Panter, A. T., Turan, N., Morse, L., & Kim, Y. (2014). Moral character in the workplace. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107(5), 943–963.
  3. Rest, J. R., Narvaez, D., Thoma, S. J., & Bebeau, M. J. (2000). A Neo-Kohlbergian Approach to Morality Research. Journal of Moral Education, 29(4), 381–395.
  4. Zigon, J. (2007). Moral breakdown and the ethical demand. Anthropological Theory, 7(2), 131-150.
  5. Zagzebski, L. (2010). Exemplarist Virtue Theory. Metaphilosophy, 41(1-2), 41–57.
  6. Strohminger, N., & Nichols, S. (2014). The essential moral self. Cognition, 131(1), 159–171.
  7. Helo, A., & Onuf, P.. (2003). Jefferson, Morality, and the Problem of Slavery. The William and Mary Quarterly, 60(3), 583–614.

Work in Progress Group

To continue the conceptual and empirical improvement of our work, as well as deepen our interdisciplinary understanding, there will be regular research in progress group meetings of the Wake Forest faculty, post-doctoral fellows, residential scholars, and graduate students involved in the project.