Science, Liberty, and Global Warming
There is now an intense focus and controversy on global warming. This disagreement has raised important questions regarding the use of science in public policy–making. This conference addressed the issue of how science works, particularly in the area of global warming, and how the cause of liberty is affected when…
Big Data and Individual Liberty
This conference explored the ethical and political concerns over “Big Data.” These concerns included issues of privacy, surveillance, economic calculation, and property rights.
Implications of Artificial Intelligence for Individual Liberty and Responsibility
People use artificial intelligence constantly while simultaneously worrying that artificial intelligence will enslave us, replace us, and steal our jobs. This conference explored instances where liberty is being furthered by artificial intelligence, others where liberty is being threatened, and the ambiguity surrounding the effects of artificial intelligence. Conferees discussed the…
ALL Natural Science/Environment CONFERENCES
Culture, Cooperation, and Evolution
The conference explored recent evolutionist approaches to the study of societies, focusing on their relatively distinct views of human nature, the limits of human knowledge, and the basis of social cooperation.
Liberty in the Scientific Enlightenment
The question for this Socratic seminar was whether the modern scientific conception of the natural order in the universe and of human nature within that order supports the moral case for liberty. This question was explored through a reading of Edward O. Wilson’s Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, a survey…
Property Rights, Conservation, and Community: The Evolution of Private and Common Property Rights
How do individuals manage the use and disposition of property? On one approach, individuals maintain private rights over the use and disposition of property, but throughout human history we see many examples of communally held rights over property. Homeowners associations, commonly held fishing rights, and water irrigation cooperatives are just…
Liberty, Mind, and Hayek’s “The Sensory Order”
Hayek viewed the processes of the human mind as "of the greatest importance for all the disciplines which aim at an understanding and interpretation of human action." This small conference focused on his difficult text The Sensory Order to examine whether it serves as a vindication or undoing of a…
The New Moral Psychology of Jonathan Haidt
This conference explored the moral psychology of Jonathan Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis and The Righteous Mind. The discussion was about the relationship between this new moral psychology and the formation of political beliefs, and whether certain beliefs have a better fit with Haidt's conception of human nature.
Biotechnology and Liberty
This conference discussed different views on the ethical consequences of biotechnological advances, and the extent to which such perspectives correlate with political viewpoints. This topic, of interest to the general public, gave a practical context to discussion of the relation between liberty, state action, and the boundaries of personal choice.
Psychiatric Surgery: Enhancing or Limiting Liberty
This conference explored the issues of liberty that arise as a result of neurosurgical advances intended to address psychological and psychiatric problems. What does it mean for us that brain implants, medical control of our brains, and even the limitation of our ability to think/act on certain thoughts are no…
Participants explored the ways in which common ownership of resources can lead to their degradation, while, on the other hand, the free market can be used to protect the environment.
Hayek and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge
According to Hayek, scientism is not only an intellectual mistake but also a moral and political problem, because it assumes that a perfected social science would be able to rationally plan social order. This colloquium investigated this Hayekian argument through reading Hayek and others who argue that social and political…
Liberty and Bioethics
In this colloquium, we explored a number of pertinent bioethical issues. Advances in scientific research have raised important questions about how bioethical issues influence the way we think about both liberty and personal responsibility.
Capitalism, Environmentalism, and Humanitarianism
The purpose of this colloquium was to understand the nature of contemporary environmentalism with respect to its ethical conception of mankind and mankind’s relationship to the environment. What is the ethical nature of modern environmentalism? To what degree is this movement an extension of earlier reform impulses, or a departure…
Liberty and Biology in Robert Sapolsky’s “Behave”
This conference explored the biological sources of human behavior with regard to cooperation, competition, conflict, and morality as presented in Robert Sapolsky's Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst.
Artificial Intelligence, Technology, and the Future of Liberty
Conferees considered how artificial intelligence may affect liberty in a wide variety of areas ranging from the economic to the social to the legal, asking the questions: Need people who cherish liberty worry about artificial intelligence? Are there hopeful signs that artificial intelligence will help sustain a less interventionist political,…