Thursday, December 17, 2015

Published in Slate: When Phrenology Was Used in Court: Lessons in Neuroscience from the 1834 Trial of a 9-year-old.

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions' Postdoctoral Fellow in Neuroethics, Geoff Holtzman,  has published a piece in Slate Magazine on the history of phrenology and its relationship to the use of neuroscience in courts of law.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Call for Abstracts: Does Neuroscience Have Normative Implications?

Call for Abstracts: Does Neuroscience Have Normative Implications? 

Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago: April 15-16, 2016
Deadline for Submissions: February 1, 2016

Neuroscience seeks to understand the biological systems that guide human behavior and cognition. Normative ethics, on the other hand, seeks to understand the system of abstract moral principles dictating how people ought to behave. Can neuroscience provide insight into normative ethics, and help us better understand which human actions and judgments are right, and which are wrong?

Researchers across disciplines who are interested in this question are invited to participate in a symposium on April 15-16 at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, IL. Prospective presenters are asked to submit abstracts of 200-400 words by February 1st, 2016 to; authors will receive selection decisions by February 28th. Invited speakers include James Giordano (Georgetown University) and Kurt Gray (University of North Carolina).

Presentations should take either 20 or 30 minutes and may address the question directly, or may address the question indirectly, by proposing research programs or discussing neuroscientific research thought to have normative implications. Authors skeptical of the normative significance of neuroscience are encouraged to discuss the scope and limits of neuroscience as it bears on non-normative moral and philosophical questions. Metatheoretical arguments of all kinds—either for or against the view that neuroscience has normative implications—are welcome.

One graduate student will be awarded $500 in travel funds on the basis of his or her submitted abstract. The symposium is funded by the Swiss Cogito Foundation, and organized by the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions at the Illinois Institute of Technology as part of the project Neuroethics: On the Interplay Between Neuroscience and Ethics. When submitting a proposal, please indicate beneath its title whether you would be interested in developing your presentation into a paper to be published in a collected volume edited by the symposium organizers (“For Collected Volume”) or not (“Not For Collected Volume”).

Questions regarding the symposium should be directed to symposium organizer Geoff Holtzman at

Monday, November 16, 2015

QED: The Ethical Debaters Compete in Upper Midwest Ethics Bowl

On Saturday, November 14th, three members of IIT's student club, QED: The Ethical Debaters, took part in the Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, IL. The team debated eight different ethical scenarios with some of the top ethics bowl teams in the midwest, including Oakland University and Macalester College. Team members who participated were Alice Arnell, Todor Markov, and Reno Waswil. Congratulations to the QED Ethical Debaters!

Monday, October 19, 2015

IPRO Students Present at International Neuroethics Conference

On Friday, October 16, students Cara Karter (CECD, 4th year) and Lorenzo Washington (Psychology, 4th year) took part in the evening poster session of the International Neuroethics Conference at the Art Institute of Chicago. The students presented the findings of IPRO 497-308, Stimulants for Enhancement Purposes, which conducted a survey examining the attitudes, use, and perceptions about the non-medical use of prescription stimulants for enhancing mental or physical performance, such as taking Adderall or Ritalin for enhancing academic performance.  

Representing the IPRO team, Karter and Washington answered questions about the study from conference attendees, including leaders in the field of neuroethics. Results from this research are also being shared in a paper submitted to the undergraduate research journal, Modern Psychological Studies

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Robert Landenson, founder of Ethics Bowl, speaks at Roundtable on Brainstorming Ideas on Education and Deliberation

Earlier this month, emeritus professor Robert Ladenson was invited to speak at a roundtable discussion organized by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues that focused on brainstorming ideas on education and deliberation. Dr. Ladenson discussed how the Ethics Bowl has been used around the country by high schools and universities to help students not only to learn about important ethical issues, but also deliberate and discuss these issues in the form of a competition.

You read the blog post about this event at

Friday, September 4, 2015

CSEP Bioethics Journal Club: Next Meeting Wednesday, September 16

The Ethics Center is holding its next  Bioethics Journal Club on Wednesday, September 16th at 12:50 in Hermann Hall Room 205.  

The next article we will be reading is "Beyond Point-and-Shoot Morality: Why Cognitive (Neuro)Science Matters for Ethics", by Joshua Green. 

The abstract of the article we will be reading  for this session can be found here:

The journal club will meet every two weeks for the rest of this semester. Participants are welcome to propose future articles for discussion.

Everybody interested in discussing bioethics issues is very welcome!

If you are interested in joining, please contact Elisabeth Hildt at

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Join CSEP's Bioethics Journal Club!

The Ethics Center is launching a Bioethics Journal Club that will meet regularly to discuss recent academic articles on a variety of topics. 

Our first meeting will be on Wednesday, September 2, at noon.

Everybody interested in discussing bioethics issues is very welcome!

The title and abstract of the article we will be reading  for the first session can be found here:

Participants are welcome to propose future articles for discussion.

If you are interested in joining, please contact Elisabeth Hildt at

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New Books at the CSEP Library

We have another round of new books ready to be checked out at the Ethics Center Library!

Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality
Patricia S. Churchland
Human Identity and Bioethics
David DeGrazia
Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking
Daniel C. Dennett
Bioethics: A Systematic Approach
Bernard Gert
Hard Luck: How Luck Undermines Free Will and Moral Responsibility
Neil Levy
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
John Locke
Reasons and Persons
Derek Parfit
Staying Alive: Personal Identity, Practical Concerns, and the Unity of a Life
Marya Schechtman
Moral Psychology: Free Will and Moral Responsibility
Walter Sinnott- Armstrong
Moral Psychology: The Cognitive Science of Morality: Intuition and Diversity
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity
Charles Taylor
Morality: An Introduction
Bernard Williams
The Variety of Values: Essays on Morality, Meaning, and Love,
Susan Wolf

Be a Judge at the 2015 IIT Tech Global Leaders Ethics Bowl!

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions invites faculty, staff and interested graduate students to participate as a judge or moderator in the Illinois Tech Global Leaders Ethics Bowl on Friday, July 10, 2015 from 2-5 p.m. on the Illinois Institute of Technology Main Campus.
The Illinois Tech Global Leaders Program brings 100 high-achieving, Chicago-area high school students together for a four-week, thematic program that introduces them to diverse science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career fields and involves the students in searching for solutions to pressing world problems with significant technological and ethical aspects.
The Ethics Bowl competition will challenge the students to take what they have learned during the first weeks of the program a step further, asking them to work as a group to analyze and discuss a series of ethics cases concerning world problems such as issues surrounding emerging technologies, the environment, disease prevention, crime, and issues related to the current economy and job creation.
There will be a 45-minute training session for judges and moderators at 2 p.m., after which there will be one round of ethics bowl. The deadline to volunteer is Tuesday, June 30, 2015.
If you have questions or are interested in being a part of the competition, email Kelly Laas at

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

First High School Ethics Bowl Competition


The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions would like to congratulate the students from Nicholas Senn High School, Oak Park and River Forest High School, and Pritzker College Prep for taking part on Chicago's first every high school ethics bowl event. The students took part in two rounds of ethics bowl where they discussed issues ranging from the right to privacy teens have when using social media to the ethics of using stimulants off-label for help in taking standardized tests.

CSEP is looking to plan an official regional high school ethics bowl for the Chicago area in January of 2016 (date to be determined). Winners of this competition will have the chance to take part in the National High School Ethics Bowl competition in late April of 2016 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and compete against the top high school teams from around the country.

If you are interested in learning more about the High School Ethics bowl, please visit the organization's home page at If you are interested in learning how to start a high school team in the Chicago area, or are interested in helping organize the regional competition, please contact Kelly Laas at

Thanks to all the students, coaches, and judges who helped make this event a success!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Lecture: Ethics of Biological Weapons Use, April 14, 12:50-130

The IIT Ethics Bowl is sponsoring a speaker event at Perlstein Hall Rm 109 from 12:50-1:30. This speaker event will cover the ethical issues surrounding biological weapons. There will also be food! Please see below for more information on our speaker. Hope to see you all there!

Adam Rouse, Legal Fellow

Adam Rouse, Legal FellowAdam Rouse is the Legal Fellow for the Institute of Science, Law, and Technology at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. During his J.D. program Adam spent time teaching high school students their constitutional rights and responsibilities as a Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Fellow. Adam's written works include the intersection of attribution of hostile cyber activities with the law of armed conflict, the use of drones in domestic law enforcement, internet privacy and regulation, and space law and policy. Adam earned a B.A., summa cum laude, from Argosy University, a J.D., magna cum laude, from Arizona Summit Law School, and an LL.M. in Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law from the University of Nebraska College of Law.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

New Books at the CSEP Library

We have a large selection of new books at the CSEP Library which are ready to be checked out! See below for the full list.

Cave, Peter

Decety, Jean
Fischmann, Tamara and Elisabeth Hildt

Giordano, James

Habermas, J├╝rgen


Illes, Judy

MacIntyre, Alasdair

Prinz, Jesse J.

Sternberg, Robert J.

My Brain made me do it
 Eliezer J. Sternberg

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter

Vincent, Nicole A

Nadelhoffer, Thomas A.

Moreno, Jonathan D.

Blank, Robert H.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Interdisciplinary Symposium on Intution and Morality, April 30th

Is morality intuitive or intellectual? While many moral philosophers and psychologists have long held that moral decisions and moral character are developed primarily through explicit deliberation, research from psychology and cognitive science now suggests that subconscious intuition plays a central role in our moral lives and experiences. Working at the intersection of empirical and theoretical analysis, Dr. Darcia Narvaez and Dr. Nancy Snow investigate the boundaries, influences, and implications of intuition in moral judgment and decision-making. Both presentations aim to give a deeper understanding of how intuitive processes guide moral agency and development. Refreshments will be served.
Come join us on April 30th from 4-6:30 in the MTCC for this event. Refreshments will be served.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Interview with CSEP Director, Dr. Elisabeth Hildt in Lewis College's Magazine

In the latest version of IIT's Lewis College of Human Sciences magazine, Big Picture, CSEP Director Elisabeth Hildt talks a bit about how she became interested in the area of applied ethics, how she is adjusting to life in Chicago, and what drew her to IIT and to the Ethics Center.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Conference: The Human Sciences after the Decade of the Brain – Perspectives on the Neuro-Turn in the Social Sciences and the Humanities

The Human Sciences after the Decade of the Brain – Perspectives on the Neuro-Turn in the Social Sciences and the Humanities.

Alte Mensa Building, Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Germany

March 30 – March 31, 2015

It is now almost 25 years since the U.S. Congress authorized the then president, George Bush sr., to proclaim the decade beginning January 1, 1990 as the Decade of the Brain. This proclamation stimulated a number of initiatives that substantially benefitted neuroscience research in the following years. Alongside this rise of neuroscience and the corresponding increase of public awareness, many disciplines in the humanities and social sciences have shifted towards more brain based and evolutionary informed approaches. New research fields such as Neuroethics, Neuroeconomics, Cognitive Cultural Studies, Neuroaesthetics or even Neurotheology have gained a following. In addition to surveying the mutual interactions between the cognitive neurosciences and the social sciences and humanities, this interdisciplinary symposium investigates the methodological and conceptual prospects and perils of choosing a neuroscience approach to the social sciences and the humanities. The symposium aims to shed light on a broad range of epistemological, historical and sociological questions about the purported neuro-turn in the social sciences and the humanities. Speakers include among others

Sabine Maasen (TU Munich)

Steve Woolgar and Tanja Schneider (Oxford University)

Paul Hoyningen-Huene (Leibniz University, Hannover)

Scott Vrecko (King’s College London)

Melissa Littlefield (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

Participation is free, but places are limited. To participate, please register until March 22nd by sending an e-mail to Jon Leefmann (leefmann[at]

The symposium is part of the project ‘The Neuro-Turn in the European Social Sciences and Humanities’ funded by the German Research Association (DFG).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

IIT Students: Please Take Our IPRO Survey!

IPRO 308 needs your help!

The IPRO is exploring the nonmedical use of prescription stimulants on the IIT campus and student perceptions of how often and for what purpose these stimulants are used. In order to do this, the IPRO team have created an online survey, and we invite you to take part!

The survey will ask you to examine your attitudes towards nonmedical use of prescription stimulants, motivations behind use, ease of access, as well as your perception of the benefits obtained (or not obtained) from use of various prescription stimulants.

You can access the survey at You will need to log into your IIT account at to access this survey, but your email will not be linked to your responses.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Should the AIA ban Architects from designing prisons?

In a New York Times article on "Prison Architecture and the Question of Ethics" Architect Raphael Sperry advocates for the ban on certain forms of prison architecture. As stated in the American Institute of Architects' code of ethics and professional conduct, "Members should uphold human rights in all their professional endeavors."

Sperry, who is also the president of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, believes that "Architects have an ethical responsibility to uphold human rights." Defending this clause should include the prohibition of architecture that would promote execution and torture, and would bring the profession in line with the same standards as lawyers and medical professionals.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

'Open Mind' : A free collection of research on the mind, brain, and consciousness now available online.

The Mind Group, run by the University of Mainz-based philosophy professor Thomas Metzinger,  is an interdisciplinary group that fosters encounters between scholars and students in ethics and research. To commemorate their 20th meeting, the Mind Group has curated an online collection of innovative research on the mind and the brain, consciousness and the self.

The online collection includes contributions by internationally renowned researchers and advanced graduate and undergraduate students working in various fields, including philosophy, psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience.

The information is available freely online at and the full press release can be found here.