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University of Oregon

Speaker Series

Invited speakers are sponsored by the ICDS, often partnering with other UO academic departments and research centers, to promote a dynamic exchange of research and theoretical advances by prominent scholars.


2015: Invited Speakers



Nina Strohminger, Postdoctoral Associate at Duke University, will be giving a public lecture on “The Essential Moral Self” at , in the Collier House Classroom (1170 East 13th Avenue) on the University of Oregon campus.12:00-1:30pm on Tuesday March 3, 2015.


Abstract from the presenter: “Ever since Locke, it has been postulated that personal identity is judged on the basis of mental features. However, the possibility that certain parts of the mind are especially central to identity has not been systematically investigated. In this talk, I lay out the evidence that our sense of identity—both in ourselves and in others—arises primarily from the continuity of moral traits. This pattern emerges repeatedly across a variety of domains, from brain damage and drug use to folk beliefs about reincarnation and the soul. Data from children and Eastern populations indicates that this privileging of moral character emerges early and is cross-culturally robust. Furthermore, identity change mediates real-world outcomes such as the robustness of personal relationships. Potential explanations for this phenomenon, along with implications for the field, are discussed.”


This public lecture is sponsored by the Scientific Study of Values Research Interest Group, the Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences, and the Philosophy Department.

For more information, contact Mark Alfano or Azim Shariff.


2014: Invited Speakers

Dr. Owen Flanagan (Duke University):

Title: “Varieties of Moral Self Cultivation”

In addition to communal work to develop good people, most traditions have methods of self-cultivation that are designed to help create, sustain, develop, and perfect various virtues and other excellences. I’ll talk about some mindfulness techniques in classical Confucianism and classical Buddhism and relate them to some contemporary psychological thinking about human first nature and to some philosophical thinking about the possibilities of rational control and ethical criticism.



Dr. Daniel Kelly (Purdue University):

Title: Disgust, Disagreement & the Psychology of Cultural Transmission

In this talk, I use recent research on the production and recognition of expressions of disgust to argue that the emotion is equipped with a proprietary signaling system. I flesh out the picture of this signaling system in light of a number of adaptive challenges that shaped the evolution of disgust, including those associated with the cultural transmission and learning, social norms, and cooperation.  Finally, I draw out some implications of this picture and the kinds of variation and disagreement it allows for perennial debates in moral philosophy.


2008: Invited Speakers

Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler (Seattle Pacific University):

Among the costs of reproduction, carrying one’s infant incurs one of the greatest drains on maternal energy, simply because of the added mass alone. Because of the dearth of archaeological evidence, however, how early bipeds dealt with the additional cost of having to carry infants who were less able to support their body weight against gravity is not particularly well understood. This article presents evidence on the caloric drain of carrying an infant in one’s arms versus having a tool with which to sling the infant and carry her passively. The burden of carrying an infant in one’s arms is on average 16% greater than having a tool to support the baby’s mass and seems to have the potential to be a greater energetic burden even than lactation. In addition, carrying a baby in one’s arms shortens and quickens the stride. An anthropometric trait that seems to offset some of the increased cost of carrying a baby in the arms is a wider bi-trochanteric width.

2007: Invited Speakers

Dr. Rob Quinlan (Washington State University):

Rob’s research focuses on biosocial influences on human life history variation. He is interested in environmental and family effects on reproductive “strategies” that include the timing of weaning, pace of maturation, age at first birth, birth spacing, mating-parenting “effort”, sex-biased parental care, and multigenerational reproductive “fitness”. He has related interests in psychosocial stress, health and child development. Since 1993 he has conducted fieldwork in a rural community in the Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies.

Dr. Geoffrey Miller (University of New Mexico):

Geoffrey’s main research focus is evolutionary social psychology, especially the study of human mental adaptations for judgment, decision-making, strategic behavior, and communication in social and sexual domains. This includes work on mutual mate choice and sexual selection theory, analysis of human mental traits as fitness indicators (reliable cues of underlying phenotypic traits and genetic quality), analysis of social attribution heuristics as adapted to the statistical structure of individual differences (including genetic and phenotypic covariances), and analysis of animate motion perception mechanisms as adapted to typical patterns of intentional movement. Other interests include the origins of human preferences, aesthetics, and utility functions; human strategic behavior, game theory, and experimental economics; ovulatory effects on female mate preferences; the intellectual legacies of Darwin, Nietzsche, and Veblen.

2006: Invited Speakers

Dr. Agustin Fuentes (University of Notre Dame):

Social scientists, especially anthropologists, have long endeavored to understand the evolution of “human nature.” This investigation frequently focuses on the relative importance of competition versus cooperation in human evolutionary trajectories and usually results in a primary emphasis on competition, aggression, and even war in to understand humanity. This perspective conflicts with long-standing perspectives in anthropology and some emerging trends and theory in evolutionary biology and ecology. Cooperation and competition are not mutually exclusive in an evolutionary context. As anthropologists, we have demonstrated that humans can—and usually do—get along. Evolution is complex with multiple processes and patterns, not all of which involve competition and conflict. In this article, I summarize elements of modern ecological and evolutionary theory in the context of human cooperative patterns in an attempt to illustrate the valuable role of evolutionary theory and cooperative patterns in integrative anthropological approaches to the human condition.