Ockham’s Beard Goes Latvia

2 03 2011

Exciting news. For Latvians! I’ve had a paper accepted to the Morality and the Cognitive Sciences conference, held in Riga, Latvia, in May. Abstract below:

Evolution and Moral Diversity

If humans have an evolved moral psychology, then we should not necessarily expect it to function in an identical way between individuals. Instead, we should expect a diversity in the function of our moral psychology between individuals, and a corresponding diversity of moral intuitions and moral judgements that emerge from it. This is because there is no one solution to the problems that our moral faculty evolved to solve that yields the best outcome in every environment or circumstance. As such, our moral sense may have evolved to produce a variety of strategies that increased the likelihood that we were able to successfully respond to a wide range of situations and environments, with these ‘environments’ also including the strategies employed by other individuals. An example of this phenomenon can be seen in political psychology research, which reveals that personality and other psychological variables have an impact on political attitudes. I argue this gives us reason to expect that personality and other psychological variables will also have an impact on moral attitudes, and suggest empirical experimentation could reveal whether this is, in fact, true.

Now I just have to figure out how to get myself there. A few curly hurdles to pass first though (too mixed a metaphor?).

First, my university, in all its bureaucratic wisdom only handles travel funding for conferences twice a year, the last was December and the next round isn’t until August. Now, even had I known I wanted to go to this conference in December, I wouldn’t have received any funding unless I’d had a paper accepted. But I only had the paper accepted now.

What kind of person designs a funding system that front-loads them all at once, placing extra burden on the administrators, and does so in such a way as it’s almost impossible to get funding ahead of the conference – you know, when the funds are most needed? A nitwit, that’s who.

Anyway, I will make my own way there under my own pecuniary impetus, and hope the university might see fit to reimburse me at least some of the expense come August.

Second hurdle: I’m also hoping to attend the World Conference of Science Journalists, held in late June. “Where is it?” I hear you ask. Egypt. So yeah, that’ll probably be moved. Rumours are Qatar is looking good. Although it might be a tad hot that time of year. Awaiting word on the new location any day now, but if it’s anywhere within a quarter of a hemisphere of Latvia, I might just bum around Europe for a few weeks and then make my way to that too.

So yeah, if you’re going to the Morality and the Cognitive Sciences or WCSJ2011 conference, I’ll see you there. If you know of any good places to bum around in Europe, let me know.

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