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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 19, 2000. All rights reserved.
Talk of Teaching Values
Don’t look for easy questions when the Princeton University
Center for Human Values convenes its two-day symposium, a 10th anniversary
celebration for examining issues in ethics. "We are committed
to raising and responding to some of the most difficult moral and
social challenges of our time — and all time," says Amy Gutmann,
founding director of the center.
"Examining values in a spirit of open-minded and imaginative,
careful and collaborative inquiry is what the University Center for
Human Values is all about," she says.
"Questioning Values, Defending Values," will open on Thursday,
April 27, at 4:30 p.m. at the Helm Auditorium, McCosh 50, on the Princeton
University campus. Harold Shapiro, the university’s president, will
chair a panel with these celebrity guest/thinkers: Toni Morrison and
Peter Singer of Princeton; Ruth J. Simmons, president, Smith College;
George F. Will, syndicated columnist; and Susan Wolf, Johns Hopkins
An overflow audience is expected. All sessions will be simulcast live
in McCosh 28 and McCosh 46; also broadcast live on cable channel 11-A
in Princeton Borough and Princeton Township; and broadcast via the
Internet at www.princeton.edu/webmedia. Sessions continue Friday,
April 28, and are free, but preregistration is encouraged. Call 609-258-4798.
The panelists are certain to voice opinions that represent all points
on the philosophical and political spectrum. Wolf is the author of
"Freedom Within Reason," and she teaches ethics at Johns Hopkins.
Will has received the Pulitzer Prize for his commentary, and his books
include "The Woven Figure: Conservatism and America’s Fabric"
as well as a book about America’s favorite pastime, "Men at Work:
the Craft of Baseball."
Singer is the highly controversial Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics
at Princeton. His most recent book is "A Darwinian Left: Politics,
Evolution, and Cooperation," and his other books include "Animal
Liberation" and "Practical Ethics."
Simmons, who has done academic study on the schools of Haiti, was
the vice provost at Princeton before taking the post of Smith College
president. Morrison won a Pulitzer and the Nobel Prize for Literature,
and her novels include "Jazz," "Beloved," and "Paradise,"
and she also has edited works on the role of race and gender in American
The discussion turns political on Friday, April 28, at 9:30 a.m.,
when a panel entitled "What Do Citizens Own Their Constitutional
Democracy?" will be chaired by Josiah Ober, with George Kateb,
Kathleen Sullivan, Michael Walzer, and David Wilkins.
Ober teaches classics at Princeton and wrote "The Athenian Revolution"
and "Fortress Attica." Kateb teaches politics at Princeton,
and his books include "Utopia and its Enemies" and "The
Walzer is a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced
Study and has written "Just and Unjust Wars" and "On Toleration."
Wilkins teaches at Harvard Law School and has written articles on
the role of legal education in shaping the values of values of Black
On Friday at 11:15 a.m., Harry G. Frankfurt, Princeton professor of
philosophy, will moderate a discussion on "How Should We Address
the Greatest Evils and Injustices of Our Time?" with panelists
K. Anthony Appiah, Frances M. Kamm, Glenn C. Loury, and Avishai Margalit.
Frankfurt is author of "The Importance of What We Care About."
Appiah is professor of philosophy and African-American studies at
Harvard and co-editor with Henry Louis Gates Jr. of "The Dictionary
of Global Culture." He also wrote "Color Conscious: The Political
Morality of Race," co-authored with Amy Gutmann.
John Cooper, a classical philosophy professor at Princeton,
chairs the 2:15 p.m. discussion on "What’s Public? What’s Private?"
The panel also includes Charles Fried, William A. Galston, Connie
S. Rosati, and Alan J. Ryan. Fried is a Harvard Law School professor
who wrote "Order and Law: Arguing the Reagan Revolution."
Galston directs the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at
the University of Maryland and is the founding co-editor of "The
Responsive Community." Rosati, who teaches at the University of
California, Davis, has written an article entitled "Internalism
and the Good for a Person." Ryan, who is Warden of New College
at Oxford University, has written books on John Stuart Mill and John
Perhaps the most controversial question will be whether popular culture
should support morality. Joyce Carol Oates, who is drawing both criticism
and applause for her semi-fictional study of Marilyn Monroe, entitled
"Blonde: a Novel," will be on that 4 p.m. panel. It also includes
Caryl G. Emerson, David Bromwich, J. Peter Euben, and Nancy L. Rosenblum.
Emerson, who chairs the panel, teaches Slavic languages and comparative
literature at Princeton and has written on the life of Musorgsky.
Bromwich teaches English and law at Yale and has written books on
Hazlitt and Wordsworth.
Euben’s titles have included "Corrupting Youth: Political Education,
Democratic Culture, and Political Theory;" he teaches at University
of California at Santa Cruz. Rosenblum is author of "Membership
and Morals: the Personal Uses of Pluralism in America," and she
is a political science professor at Brown.
In her work for the center Gutmann has tried to draw from all the
disciplines — the humanities, the social sciences, and the sciences
— to address these issues. "Over a decade, the work of the
University Center has radiated out into all divisions of the university
and, through our publications and events, into the public realm of
educated discourse," she says. In addition to being the founding
director of this center, Gutmann teaches politics at Princeton and
co-authored a book with one of the panelists, K. Anthony Appiah. She
has also written "Democratic Education: Democracy and Disagreement"
with Dennis Thompson.
More than one-fourth of the university’s undergraduates enroll each
year in courses that the center either sponsors or cosponsors. For
many of the lectures — such as the Tanner and Moffett lectures
— attendance by the general public is encouraged.
Don’t look for hard and fast answers, because firm conclusions serve
only to exclude those who are still asking questions. "By emphasizing
the provisional nature of our responses," says Gutmann, "we
hope to encourage as many people as possible to join us in the ongoing
endeavor of discerning the worth of what is humanly possible and the
limits of what is morally defensible."
"People want to be part of this discussion," says Gutmann.
"They want to participate in this search for greater moral and
ethical understandings. We have not had to convince them that this
is important. We just try to broaden the discussion, to give it depth."
Center for Human Values , Helm Auditorium, McCosh 50, 609-258-4798.
Preregister. Free. Thursday and Friday, April 27 and 28.
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