Moral Psychologist Speaks at E-town’s Annual Ware Lecture
April 3, 2017   //   By:   //   Arts & Culture, Arts and Culture

Jonathan Haidt’s upcoming Ware Lecture “Our Strange New Era of Uncivil Discourse: A Moral Psychology Perspective,” aims to discuss how the United States has reached its present level of division among its people.

The lecture is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 6, at Elizabethtown College’s Leffler Chapel and Performance Center.

The Ware Lecture on Peacemaking is a yearly lecture sponsored by the College’s Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking and Judy S. ’68 and Paul W. Ware. In past years, featured speakers have been Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners and journalists.

“Too often, each side believes they have the moral high ground and that the other is less moral,” said David Kenley, director of the Center. “Haidt tries to help people understand the psychological underpinnings of our own moral views and then see those of others.”

“With this as a starting point, then, discussions about what really matters can be conducted without so much charged energy,” said Jonathan Rudy, peacemaker-in-residence at the Center. “I think Dr. Haidt will step back and give us some perspective on the psychology of the current national dynamic.”

“We first got the idea to invite Jonathan Haidt because he fit the mission of the peacemaking Ware Lecture,” said Kenley. “He really talks about how people can have conversations across ideological and cultural gaps.”

Kenley pointed out that since the time the Center invited Haidt to speak at Elizabethtown, the United States had the presidential election. In its wake, confrontational dialogue has seemed to encompass a majority of the conversations occurring between people in the United States including the College campus.

“And, so, his lecture is extremely timely. We’ve gotten lucky to have such good timing for his visit,” said Kenley.

Though his primary focus is moral psychology and moral emotions, Haidt works as a social psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Yale University and his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2012, Haidt published the New York Times bestselling book, “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.”

This book investigates America’s fall into two sides while also considering the role of emotions in morality. It details how emotions lend a hand to our responses to the political scene in an attempt to guide us along the path toward mutual understanding.

Haidt is also the co-developer of the “Moral Foundations Theory,” which tries to understand and translate the differences in human moral reasoning.

There will be a book signing following the lecture at 9 p.m., and books will be available to buy. If interested in pre-purchasing a copy before the lecture, please visit the College Store.

This lecture is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Tickets can be reserved by calling 717-361-4757 or emailing lecturetickets@etown.edu. For more information, contact Kay Wolf at wolfk@etown.edu.

~ E-town NOW guest writer is Colleen Wells, a senior English major with a concentration in professional writing at Elizabethtown College. She also is a creative writer in her spare time.

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