» Humanomics Alumni Colloquium

Foundations of Our Judgments on Conduct

April 5 – 6, 2024

Registration is now closed.

The Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy invites all Humanomics alumni to participate in a weekend colloquium on “Foundations of Our Judgments on Conduct.” We will discuss Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray in dialogue with Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Adam Smith’s first great book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, is largely unknown to the average person. However self-interested his economics in The Wealth of Nations may be incorrectly supposed, there is evidently a prominent place in his philosophy of humankind for virtue ethics, including beneficence and justice. In Shelley’s novel, both Victor Frankenstein and his creature are monsters. Both are incapable, but for different reasons, of contemplating their own conduct. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde’s only novel, is a Gothic moral or immoral tale of corruption and ethical decay. “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it,” Lord Henry tells Dorian. What is the foundation of Frankenstein’s, the creature’s, Dorian’s, and our judgments concerning our own conduct? But how can our study of economics incorporate such judgments? And why does it matter that we integrate them into economics?

The core of a Humanomics colloquium lies in civil discourse and a commitment to read all materials in advance. Please plan to bring your books to the discussion and to be present and on time for all sessions. The colloquium is made possible by a grant from the Templeton Foundation.

The colloquium is made possible by a grant from the Templeton Foundation. Travel stipends of $200 are available for local alumni and $750 for non-local alumni. Travel stipend applications are included on the registration form.

Schedule (Wilkinson Hall 221, Chapman University)

Friday, April 5, 2024

5:00 Drinks followed by Dinner – Downtown Orange, CA

Saturday, April 6, 2024

8:30 – 9:00 Coffee

9:00 – 10:30 1st session – The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part I, Sections I-II & Part II, Sections I-IIAdam Smith

10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 – 12:15 2nd session – The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part IIIAdam Smith

12:15 – 1:30 Lunch (bring your ideas for themes and texts for the Fall 2024 colloquium)

1:30 – 3:00 3rd session – Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus, Mary Shelley

3:00 – 3:15 Break

3:15 – 4:45 4th session – The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

5:00 Drinks followed by Dinner - Downtown Orange, CA

If you have any questions, please contact Samantha Aronson at saronson@chapman.edu.


Toggle Section

2023 Spring

Humanomics Alumni Colloquium

“Justice and Evil: Mitigating the Human Condition”

March 31, 2023 – April 1, 2023

Registration is now closed.

The Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy invites all Humanomics alumni to participate in a weekend colloquium on “Justice and Evil.” We will discuss concurrently Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men, C. Fred Alford’s What Evil Means to Us and a chapter by F. A. Hayek entitled “The Quest for Justice.” The colloquium is made possible by a grant from the Templeton Foundation.

Through his interdisciplinary approach Alford constructs an analysis and argument for the nature of this thing we call “evil.” His is an unusual argument which states that evil is an experience of dread. This surprising and—at first encounter—unsatisfying description of evil is analyzed through the lens of Alford’s many interviews with inmates, college students, and young professionals. What Evil Means to Us provides an original, multifaceted, and accessible account of the mysterious force behind “bad” actions. Alford believes that through both understanding and accepting the philosophical and psychological phenomenon that is evil, we can better mitigate it in ourselves and recognize it in others.

Rose’s classic play Twelve Angry Men gives legs to the theoretical work of Alford as twelve jurors discuss whether or not the alleged crime of a sixteen-year-old boy should result in corporal punishment. Through the points made and prejudices held by twelve randomly selected men, we observe the seeds of evil not only in the alleged criminal but also in the “ordinary individuals” selected to decide his fate.

Hayek’s three-volume series Law, Legislation and Liberty explores the nature of what a society is, how best to create order within it and what kind of laws create actual freedom for citizens. For our purposes “The Quest for Justice” will provide a practical framework for what we do in a world of evil and relative morality. What is the responsibility of the individual? What is the responsibility of the state? What is the interaction between ethics, evil and exchange? How does one mitigate evil in the human condition?

The core of a Humanomics colloquium lies in civil discourse and a commitment to read all materials in advance. Please plan to bring your books to the discussion and to be present and on time for all sessions.

Schedule (Wilkinson Hall 221, Chapman University)

Friday, March 31, 2023

6:00 Dinner – Super Antojitos (642 West Capman Avenue, Orange, CA 92866)

Saturday, April 1, 2023

10:00 – 10:30 Coffee

10:30 – 11:45 1st session – What Evil Means to Us, C. Fred Alford

11:45 – 1:45 Lunch

2:00 – 3:15 2nd session – Twelve Angry Men, Reginald Rose

3:15 – 3:30 Break

3:30 – 4:45 3rd session – “The Quest for Justice”, Law, Legislation, and Liberty, Vol. 2, F. A. Hayek

6:00 Dinner - Bosscat Kitchen (118 W Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92866)

If you have any questions, please contact Melissa Merrill at memerrill@chapman.edu.