With previous grant, Brown’s project has now been awarded a total of $300,000
The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) has awarded a $200,000 grant to Fuller Seminary’s Professor of Psychology Warren S. Brown and his interdisciplinary team for a research project on the nature of virtue and moral action. Brown, who is also director of the Lee Edward Travis Research Institute at Fuller, serves as co-principal investigator for the team, along with Gregory Peterson, associate professor at South Dakota State University. This grant adds to a $100,000 grant previously received for the project.
The research project—“The Rationality of Ultimate Value: Emotion, Awareness, and Causality in Virtue Ethics and Decision Neuroscience”—seeks a deeper understanding of the nature of virtue in relation to a person’s belief in things that are transcendent. It poses the question: How is virtue related to rationality, emotions, and concepts of ultimate value?
The “Rationality of Ultimate Value” project is one of two receiving new $200,000 grants from CTNS’s “Science and Transcendence Advanced Research Series" (STARS) program. The other research project, “Information and the Origin of Life,” is similarly being investigated by an interdisciplinary team.
“I am delighted with the extraordinary quality and ground-breaking approaches to interdisciplinary research by these two outstanding teams,” said Robert John Russell, STARS Principal Investigator and the Ian G. Barbour Professor of Theology and Science in Residence at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. “The implications for our understanding of human spirituality, virtue ethics, the scientific question of the origin of life, and the meaning of ‘ultimate reality’ are very promising.”
The $200,000 grant comes as a follow-up to an initial $100,000 STARS grant Dr. Brown’s project received to launch the project in 2008; it has thus now been awarded a total of $300,000. “The current award signals a positive evaluation of our work thus far and allows us to continue that work,” notes Brown.
Brown’s project attempts to understand persons who are exemplars of virtue—such as long-term caregivers for the mentally disabled, or other persons whose behavior is exemplary of fairness and generosity. A core question is the degree to which a virtuous person’s mental “schemas”—of themselves and of the world—involve transcendent realities and ultimate values, and the degree to which these are important in their virtuous behavior and character.
“This project has created exciting new approaches to research on moral action and virtue,” says Brown. “Most remarkably, the project has yielded a novel approach to neuroscience and psychological study of virtuous exemplars within a laboratory context. Our team has formulated a philosophical understanding of virtue that both incorporates new scientific research and argues for the critical importance of transcendence and exemplarity in moral action.”
In addition to co-principal investigator Peterson, others participating on Brown’s team are Kevin Reimer, professor of psychology at Azusa Pacific University; Azusa, Michael Spezio, assistant professor at Scripps College and visiting scientist at California Institute of Technology; and James Van Slyke, adjunct professor at Azusa Pacific University.
CTNS works to build bridges between theology and science through research, teaching, and public service. The CTNS STARS program is funded through the John Templeton Foundation. For more information on the research team and project co-led by Dr. Brown, visit www.ctnsstars.org/enews/news_rteam1.html .
Fuller Seminary is one of the largest multidenominational seminaries in the world, with more than 4,000 students attending annually from nearly 70 countries and 100 denominations. Providing professional and graduate-level education in its schools of theology, psychology, and intercultural studies, Fuller is located in Pasadena, California, with extension campuses in six locations.