Beyond the Nature/Nurture Controversy: Moral Autonomy and Social Change

Course summary

  • Sat 19 May 2018 to Sun 20 May 2018
  • 3.00pm Sat - 2.00pm Sun
  • Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA
  • From £77.00
  • Course code O17P152PHR
  • +44 (0)1865 270380
  • Applications being accepted

Beyond the Nature/Nurture Controversy: Moral Autonomy and Social Change


Beyond the Nature/Nurture Controversy:  Moral Autonomy and Social Change through Active Learning


It is often asked of morality, "Is it nature or nurture?" Virtually everyone today agrees that the correct answer is "Both".  But that answer opens new questions, not simply questions about the relative contribution of "nature" or "nurture" (or whether these can even be meaningfully separated), but also about whether there is something more to moral development that this debate usually presupposes.  'Nature' and 'nurture' as these terms are traditionally used cast the individual in a passive role in moral development--either by genetic inheritance or by inculcation of the norms of his society by socialization.  We'd like to emphasize how that humans are equipped not just to receive such shaping forces, but also for active, original moral learning that can carry us beyond the moral world we inherit, and help explain how morality can be a domain of independent thinking, and vibrant innovation and change.  

Programme details



2.45pm         Course Registration


3.00pm         Humean sentimentalism as a form of moral realism

                    PETER RAILTON


4.30pm         Tea / coffee


5.00pm         Changing natures: On Aristotle and the emotions

                    ELLEN FRIDLAND


6.30pm         Break / bar open


7.00pm         Dinner


8.15pm-        Moral learning

9.30pm         PETER RAILTON   


SUNDAY 20 MAY 2018


8.15am         Breakfast (residents only)


9.30am         Affective expertise: Agency and practice in the development of moral emotions

                    ELLEN FRIDLAND


10.45am       Coffee / tea


11.15am       Q & A

Questions directed by MARIANNE TALBOT


12.30pm       Break / bar open


1.00pm         Lunch


2.00pm         Course disperses


Recommended reading


Fridland, E., ‘Automatically Minded’, Synthese 2015 (available from: and ‘Motor skill and ‘Moral Virtue’ in Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement (forthcoming) (This paper can be accessed here:

Railton, P., ‘The Affective Dog and Its Rational Tale: Intuition and Attunement’ Ethics, Vol.124, No. 4 (July 2014), pp. 813-859, Stable URL:

‘Sentimentalism and Realism in Epistemology and Ethics’ in  


Accommodation for this weekend is at Rewley House for Saturday night only.

Depending on availability it may also be possible to extend your stay, please enquire at the time of booking for availability and prices.

All bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.

Unfortunately it is not yet possible to book twin room accommodation online, so if you wish to book a twin room, please send in your completed enrolment form or contact the Day & Weekend Events Office, Email:



Tuition (includes tea/coffee): £77.00
Baguette Sunday Only: £4.70
Dinner Saturday Evening: £19.00
Single B&B Saturday Night: £75.85
Single Room Only Saturday Night: £64.85
Sunday Lunch: £13.50
Twin B&B Saturday Night (per person): £54.35
Twin Room Only Saturday Night (per person): £43.35


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Ellen Fridland


Ellen Fridland is a Lecturer at King’s College, University of London.  She has worked extensively in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of cognitive science, and at the boundary between philosophy and psychology.  She has lectured widely in the UK, US, Europe, and Australia, and her essays on skill, imitation, embodied cognition, consciousness, and intelligence have appeared in leading journals in philosophy and cognitive science.  She has been a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University and a Summer Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities (US).

Professor Peter Railton


Peter Railton is the G.S. Kavka Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  He has worked in the philosophy of science, ethics, meta-ethics, aesthetics, and moral psychology.  The author of many well-known articles, some of which are gathered in Facts, Values, and Norms (Cambridge UP, 2003), he is also co-author of the interdisciplinary book, Homo Prospectus (Oxford UP, 2016).  He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities (US), and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Ms Marianne Talbot

Director of Studies


Marianne Talbot took her first degree at London University, then her B.Phil at Oxford (Corpus Christi College). She has taught for the colleges of Oxford University for 30 years (1987 – 1990 at Pembroke College, 1991 – 2000 at Brasenose College). She has been Director of Studies in Philosophy at OUDCE since 2001. She is the author of Bioethics: An Introduction, and Critical Reasoning: A Romp Through the Foothills of Logic. Marianne’s podcasts have been hugely popular. Two of them have been global number one on iTunesU. One of these (The Nature of Arguments) has been downloaded 7 million times.




Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.