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Philosophers gain $640,000 grant to explore role of love in human action.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – What is love? What is the role of love and caring in human freedom and other aspects of human agency (our capacity to make choices and to impose those choices on the world around us)? How do love and caring give purpose to our activity? How are they central to our capacity to reason and make decisions?

Three philosophy professors intend to answer these questions -- Vassar College’s Jeffrey Seidman, Franklin & Marshall College’s Bennett Helm, and University of California-Riverside’s Agnieszka Jaworska -- with the support of a $640,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The project “Love and Human Agency: An Interdisciplinary Investigation” will also gain from the insights of a team that will include neuroscientists, psychologists, legal theorists, business administrators and economists (www.loveandhumanagency.org).

“Love is central to our lives.  But many attempts to understand human agency, whether by philosophers, psychologists, social scientists, or other researchers, leave love out of the picture,” Seidman says.  “This risks missing the ways in which love can make our actions, and our indeed our lives, meaningful to us. Without accounting for love we distort our understanding of ourselves.”

The research team anticipates the project will result in two or more books, dozens of peer-reviewed academic articles in a variety of disciplines, and presentations at major national and international conferences.

“We aim to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue on these questions, so as to broaden and deepen what each discipline on its own can say about human agency.  In the process, we hope to shape the future direction of these fields,” Seidman says.

About the John Templeton Foundation
The foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the “Big Questions” of human purpose and ultimate reality. It encourages civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers and theologians, and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights. The Foundation’s vision is derived from the late Sir John Templeton’s optimism about the possibility of acquiring “new spiritual information” and from his commitment to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship (http://www.templeton.org/).

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, May 15, 2012