There, that title should get the attention of the Citizen Anti-Religion Police (let's just call them CARPers, eh?). Except that, if they are honest, they'll be sorely disappointed by the open-mindedness and intellectual diversity on display in the Science of Virtues Project.
The particular programs of that new Project, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and being run out of the University of Chicago (that bastion of fundamentalism!), to have come to my attention are the conferences being run by Drs. Peter Augustine Lawler (Berry College) and Marc Guerra (Ave Maria University). Dr. Lawler blogs often over at First Things' Postmodern Conservative and serves as frequent sparring partner for many of my Front Porch Republic colleagues. To get a sense of the larger intellectual project underpinning these conferences, one could do no better than to follow Lawler's provocative Pomocon blogging (or buying Dr. Guerra's new book, Christians as Political Animals).
The Lawler/Guerra conferences will focus on the theme "Toward a True Science of Being Stuck with Virtue." The first conference, to be held at Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia, on November 4-5, will, in Dr. Lawler's words, "focus on Descartes', Locke's, and Darwin's distinctive contributions to our modern understandings of science and virtue." I'll let him take it from here:
The conference will have four featured speakers: 1) Thomas Hibbs, Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Culture and Dean of the Honors College at Baylor University, who has published widely on both Thomas Aquinas and popular culture and has made over 100 appearances on nationally syndicated radio; 2) Larry Arnhart, Presidential Research Professor of Political Science at Northern Illinois University, who has written two books and numerous articles defending "Darwinian natural right" as the true science of virtue; 3) Diana Schaub, professor of political science at Loyola University in Maryland, former member of President Bush's Council on Bioethics, and author of Erotic Liberalism; and 4) Jeffrey Bishop, M.D., Ph.D. (philosophy), Episcopal priest, and endowed chair and chair of the department of medical ethics at St. Louis University, whose publications include the forthcoming Otherness, Death, and Medicine.
There will also be panels focusing on contemporary cultural trends that have been influenced by Descartes, Locke, and Darwin. These panels will also examine Alexis de Tocqueville's and Walker Percy's analyses of our pop Cartesianism as well as Tom Wolfe's portrayal of the way science undermines virtue in the contemporary university. There is still time for would-be participants to be included on these panels.
We hope that the conference will attract a variety of people interested in the place of virtue in our technological and biotechnological time. Berry is America's largest and most beautiful campus, located 70 miles from both Atlanta and Chattanooga.
The presentations at the conference will be published in several different places. For more information, please contact Peter Lawler at plawler[at]berry.edu.
The following two conferences will be held in April and November 2011, both at Berry.
The second conference concerns contemporary schools of thought on the relationship between science and virtue. The third conference concerns related public policy issues, such as health care, an aging society, and organ markets.