‘Science of Ethics’ project receives $1.2 million in funding

September 15, 2011

ANN ARBOR—University of Michigan philosophy professor Daniel Jacobson has been awarded $1.2 million for a project titled “The Science of Ethics.”

Funding for the project, which is the largest grant in history received by the U-M Department of Philosophy, comes primarily from the John Templeton Foundation, with additional funds provided by the U-M and Ohio State University.

“Recent research in fields as disparate as social psychology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and behavioral economics has shed light on the underpinnings of morality and spawned a new discipline of empirical ethics,” said Jacobson. “But the philosophical implications of these discoveries remain unclear. Too often advocates of the empirical ethics movement overreach in their conclusions, in ways that beg the most important philosophical questions and threaten the very possibility of moral reasoning. The Science of Ethics project seeks to engage empirical ethics while critically examining its philosophical, and especially its moral, implications.”

According to Jacobson, the project will focus on three main activities:

  • Funding for two books. One, called “Rational Sentimentalism,” will be co-authored by Jacobson and OSU philosopher Justin D’Arms. The other, by U-M assistant professor of philosophy and psychiatry Chandra Sripada, is entitled “Self and Self-Control”
  • Two summer workshops at U-M in 2012 and 2013
  • A prize competition open to academic philosophers affiliated with the project, offering $35,000 in prize money for essays on topics in ethics and morality published in high-profile popular media.

The U-M Department of Philosophy is part of the U-M College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA). 


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