Challenges and Limits of Behavioural Sciences Applied to Ethics and Politics
The last two decades have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of scholarly work produced on the subject of ethical decision-making, ethical behaviour and behavioural insights as applied to public policy (i.e. nudges), which culminated with the recent Nobel prize awarded to Richard Thaler. Scholars from various disciplines ranging from economics to philosophy have devoted significant effort to mapping the flaws in human cognition and examining the implications in terms of individual and group behaviours in market and non-market settings. This kind of approach raises ethical and political questions such as autonomy, freedom, paternalism or justice. For example, the literature has investigated how psychological (e.g. self-serving bias) and environmental factors (e.g. framing) can cause individuals to make ethically questionable decisions. One especially promising scholarly movement has been labelled “behavioural ethics”, an area that focuses on automatic processes that underlie people’s decision-making. It covers topics ranging from moral disengagement to the role of the source of justice on ethical behaviour. The methods employed are also diverse, reflecting the dominant techniques of inquiry in disciplines such as economics, psychology, sociology and philosophy.
However, crossing the disciplinary borders and covering a large range of topics and methods raises a number of questions on the limits and challenges and limits of behavioural sciences applied to ethics and politics issues.
Sarah Conly – Professor of Philosophy, Bowdoin College
Robert Sugden – Professor of Economics, University of East Anglia
This conference invites papers, which may include (but are not limited to) the following topics:
– Behavioural Sciences and Public Policy
– Cooperation and Social Justice
– Paternalism and Public Decision Making
– Influencing Ethical Behaviours
– Emotions in Ethical Decision Making Process
– Freedom, Determinism and Ethics
– Ethics and Human Nature
– Methodological Challenges for Behavioural Ethics