SRC Conferences

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See tabs below for details of the conferences and links to resources where available.

 

 

18-19 June 2012

In June 2012, the Science and Religious Conflict Project team in the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University hosted a two-day international and interdisciplinary conference on the theme of reducing religious conflict.

Conflicts between different religious groups and between religious groups, governments and broader society are endemic to modern life and have been a feature of human existence for thousands of years. What can be done to reduce the rate of occurrence and the severity of such conflicts? In this conference leading international experts from different disciplines take up the theme of reducing religious conflict. In this conference leading international experts from different disciplines took up the theme of reducing religious conflict.

The conference was funded by Arts and Humanities Council Standard Grant AH/F019513/1.

Venue: Lincoln College, EPA Science Centre, Museum Road, Oxford OX1 3PX
Convenor: Dr Steve Clarke
Conference Administrator: Rachel Gaminiratne

Speakers:

  • Scott Atran, Anthropology (University of Michigan and National Center for Scientific Research Paris)
    Religious and Sacred Imperatives in Human Conflict
  • Liz Carmichael (Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford)
    Religion in Conflict and Peacemaking, with Particular Reference to South Africa
  • Tony Coady (Philosophy, University of Melbourne and Leverhulme Visiting Professor, University of Oxford)
    Civility and Deep Disagreement: Philosophical Reflections on Religious Differences and Public Life
  • Eran Halperin (Lauder School of Government, Israel)
    Can Emotion Regulation Change Political Attitudes in Intractable and Religious Conflict? From the Laboratory to the Field
  • Miles Hewstone ( Katarina Schmid and Ananthi Al Ramiah, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford)
    Intergroup Contact as a Means of Reducing Religious Conflict: Evidence from Belfast and Oldham
  • Julian Savulescu (Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford) and Ingmar Persson (University of Gothenburg and Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford)
    Religion and Religious Conflict: A Secular View
  • Monica Toft (Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University)
    On Counterinsurgency
  • Paul Troop (Faculty of Law and Centre for Neuroethics, University of Oxford)
    How Might Understanding Human Groups Help Address Religious Conflict?

Notes on the conference: The Science and Religious Conflict Project Conference on ‘Reducing Religious Conflict’ was held on Monday May 19th and Tuesday May 20th 2012, at the Lincoln College EPA Science Centre in Oxford. The conference included eight papers, each followed by general discussion, as well as a concluding round table discussion. The conference was fully subscribed and all papers were well attended. Discussions were lively and very constructive.

Conference speakers included leading international figures from a variety of disciplines who each addressed the conference theme of reducing religious conflict. The first presentation on day one was by Eran Halperin, a political psychologist from the Lauder school of Government in Israel. He gave a presentation on the use of emotional regulation techniques to change political attitudes about apparently intractable conflicts. The next presentation was by the anthropologist Scott Atran from the University of Michigan, John Jay College in New York and the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris. He discussed the role of sacred imperatives in creating and sustaining conflicts and the possibility of ameliorating these conflicts through ‘reframing’. The next talk was by Paul Troop, a lawyer and student of neuroethics from Oxford who spoke about the prospects for better understanding the dynamics of human conflicts, building on recent work on human reasoning due to Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber. Paul’s talk was followed by one from Julian Savulescu, also from Oxford, who provided a secular philosophical perspective on religious conflict, focusing especially on the question of whether or not religion should be allowed to play a role in deliberation for the purposes of formulating public policy in secular societies. The final presentation of the day was due to Monica Toft, a political scientist from the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard. Monica looked at the interplay of local and global dimensions in the production of religious violence, presenting recent work that she and her collaborators have conducted in the Caucasus region.

On day two the first paper was presented by the experimental psychologist Miles Hewstone from Oxford who spoke about recent work that he and his collaborators – including his co-authors Katarina Schmid and Ananthi Al Ramiah – have been conducting on the efficacy of intergroup contact in reducing conflict. He presented the results of recent studies conducted in Northern Ireland and Oldham in the north of England. The next presentation was from Liz Carmichael, from Oxford, who gave a theologian’s perspective on the practicalities and challenges of peacemaking in South Africa, speaking particularly about her role in helping to ensure peace in South Africa, as the end of the apartheid era was being negotiated. The final paper was due to Tony Coady from the University of Melbourne who provided a philosophical perspective on the challenges of dealing with religious differences in the public arena. To conclude the conference a round table discussion was held. This was led by two of our speakers, Julian Savulescu and Scott Atran, as well as Roger Trigg from the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion here at Oxford, and involved a lively discussion involving many members of our audience.

Resources:

Monday 18 June

 

Eran Halperin

Can Emotion Regulation Change Political Attitudes in Intractable and Religious Conflict? From the Laboratory to the Field [MP3]

Powerpoint [PDF]

Scott Atran
 

Religious and Sacred Imperatives in Human Conflict [MP3]

Powerpoint [PDF]

Paul Troop
 

How Might Understanding Human Groups Help Address Religious Conflict? [MP3]

Julian Savuelscu
 

Religion and Religious Conflict: A Secular View [MP3]

 

 

Monica Toft
 

Local versus Global Dimensions of Religious Violence: The Case of the Caucasus [MP3]

Powerpoint [PDF]

Tuesday 19 June

 

Miles Hewstone
 

Intergroup Contact as a Means of Reducing Religious Conflict: Evidence from Belfast and Oldham [MP3]

Powerpoint [PDF]

Liz Carmichael
 

Religion in Conflict and Peacemaking, with Particular Reference to South Africa [MP3]

Tony Coady
 

Civility and Deep Disagreement: Philosophical Reflections on Religious Difference and Public Life [MP3]

Round Table

Discussion of key themes emerging from the conference. Led by Julian Savulescu, Scott Atran and Roger Trigg [MP3]

 

21-22 January 2012

An interdisciplinary international two-day conference organised by the Science and Religious Conflict Project Team, under the auspices of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and kindly sponsored by The Mind Association, the Society for Applied Philosophy and the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics. The conference examined and promoted discussion of the role of evil as a moral concept in practical ethics and explored its positive and negative implications to moral thought and practice.

Convenors:

• Professor Julian Savulescu
• Dr Steve Clarke
• Dr Shlomit Harrosh

Speakers and papers:

• Gwen Adshead (Broadmoor Hospital) - Can We Treat Evil?
• Claudia Card (University of Wisconsin-Madison) - The Challenges of Global and Local Misogyny
• Steve Clarke (University of Oxford) - A Religious Conception of Evil
• Eve Garrard (University of Manchester) - What Use Is the Concept of Evil to Us?
• Shlomit Harrosh (University of Oxford) - Moral Enhancement and the Duty to Eliminate Evildoing
• John Kekes (University of Albany) - The Secular Problem of Evil
• Robin May Schott (Danish Institute for International Studies) – The Scale of Evil
• Arne Johan Vetlesen (University of Oslo) - Narratives of Entitlement
• Alan Wolfe (Boston College) - Evil in General, Political Evil in Particular

Notes on the conference:

The Science and Religious Conflict Project Conference on Moral Evil in Practical Ethics took place on 21-22 January, 2012 at the University Club in Oxford, under the auspices of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. The conference included nine papers, as well as responses to all of these by commentators and general discussion of all papers. The conference was a well-attended event and resulted in lively and fruitful exchanges.

Conference speakers included leading international figures on the subject of evil from a variety of disciplines, predominantly philosophy, but also psychiatry, the cognitive science of religion, and political science. The speakers addressed various dimensions of evil as a moral concept, exploring whether and how the concept of evil can be meaningfully and usefully applied to pressing practical issues in a way that furthers our understanding and guides our responses to them.

The papers presented in the conference covered a broad range of topics. Eve Garrard (University of Manchester) opened the conference by asking: What use is the concept of evil to us? Gwen Adshead (Broadmoor Hospital) answered by exploring the use of the concept of evil to the treatment of psychopaths, while Arne Johan Vetlesen (University of Oslo) spoke of the relevance of evil to madness and moral responsibility in the context of the July 2011 terror attacks in Norway by Anders B. Breivik. Shlomit Harrosh (University of Oxford) examined the relevance of a duty to eliminate evildoing to the issue of moral enhancement through biomedical and genetic means. And Claudia Card (University of Wisconsin-Madison) addressed the relevance of evil to understanding and responding to global and local misogyny. A novel, complex perspective on school bullying was suggested by Robin May Schott’s (Danish Institute for International Studies) comparison of bullying with large scale evils. Alan Wolfe (Boston College) spoke on the importance of a distinctly political conception of evil to the way we respond to certain instances of political violence. Steve Clarke (University of Oxford) developed a religious as opposed to a theological conception of evil and John Kekes (University of Albany) concluded the conference by introducing a secular conception of evil which focused on the relationship between evil, ideology and narratives of justification and entitlement.

Resources: Abstracts 

Saturday 21 January

Audio file

Dr Eve Garrard

What Use is the Concept of Evil to us?
Commentator:  Professor Roger Crisp [MP3:72 mins, 60MB]

Dr Gwen Adshead
 

Can We Treat Evil?
Commentator:  Professor Julian Savulescu [MP3:74 mins, 67MB]
Powerpoint [PDF]

Dr Shlomit Harrosh
 

Moral Enhancement and the Duty to Eliminate Evildoing
Commentator:  NA [MP3:73 mins, 66MB]

Professor Claudia Card
 

The Challenges of Global and Local Misogyny
Commentator: Professor Donna Dickenson [MP3:83mins,76MB]

Sunday 22 January

 

Professor Arne Johan Vetlesen
 

Narratives of Entitlement
Commentator:  Dr Paula Boddington [MP3:75 mins,68MB]

Dr Steve Clarke
 

A Religious Conception of Evil
Commentator: Dr Philip Endean [MP3:75 mins,68MB]

Professor John Kekes
 

The Secular Problem of Evil
Commentator: Dr Guy Kahane [MP3:84 mins,76MB]

Sponsors:

With thanks to the Mind Association, the Society for Applied Philosophy and the Oxford Centre for Neuroethicsfor their sponsorship.

 

17-19 May 2010

Does Religion Lead to Tolerance or Intolerance? Perspectives from Across the Disciplines

An interdisciplinary and international three-day conference organised by the Science and Religious Conflict Project team.  The conference aimed to discuss empirically informed approaches to an understanding of the ways in which religion increases or decreases tolerance. 

Venue: The James Martin 21st Century School, University of Oxford
Convenors:  Dr Stephen Clarke and Dr Russell Powell

Speakers

Daniel Batson, University of Kansas
Patricia Churchland, University of California at San Diego
Tony Coady, University of Melbourne
Robin Dunbar, University of Oxford
Owen Flanagan, Duke University
Benjamin Kaplan, University College London
Miles Hewstone, University of Oxford
Dominic Johnson, University of Edinburgh
Sue Mendus, University of York
Ara Norenzayan, University of British Columbia
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Duke University
Roger Trigg, University of Oxford
Harvey Whitehouse, University of Oxford

Notes on the conference: The Science and Religious Conflict Project Conference on Religion, Tolerance and Intolerance took place between May 17th and May 19th 2010 at the James Martin 21st Century School in the Old Indian Institute in Oxford. The conference included 13 papers as well as responses to all of these by commentators, general discussion of all of the papers, as well as a summary of the conference proceedings and a panel discussion. It was a well attended event and involved some very lively exchanges.

Conference speakers included leading international figures from a variety of disciplines who spoke on various dimensions of the complex causal relations between religion, tolerance and intolerance. Among them were evolutionary anthropologists, biologists, and philosophers of science, including Robin Dunbar (Oxford), Patricia Churchland (San Diego), Dominic Johnson (Edinburgh) and Harvey Whitehouse (Oxford), who explored the relation of religion to individual and social cognition, group cohesion, intergroup aggression, and cultural evolution. Psychologists Dan Batson (Kansas), Ara Norenzayan (British Columbia), and Miles Hewstone (Oxford) probed the psychological boundaries of altruism and the correlation between various religious orientations and prejudice/intolerance. Philosophers Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Duke), Tony Coady (Melbourne), Sue Mendus (York) and Owen Flanagan (Duke) spoke on the philosophical and psychological implications of religion for tolerance, compassion, compromise, and military conflict. Theologian and philosopher Roger Trigg (Oxford) considered the theological and social implications of recent work in the cognitive science of religion, and the historian Ben Kaplan (University College London) discussed the diversity of socio-political solutions to religious conflict in early modern Europe. 

The conference finished up with summarizing remarks by Richard Dawkins (Oxford) and a panel discussion convened by Roger Bingham from The Science Network, which included Professor Dawkins, Patricia Churchland, Owen Flanagan, and others on topics ranging from the rationality of religious belief to the conflict between religious and scientific worldviews.  Much of the conference was filmed by the Emmy award-winning producers of the Science Network and all of it has been recorded.

Resources:  Background reading  | Videos (The Science Network)

Monday 17 May

Powerpoint

Audio

Robin Dunbar:

PowerPoint 
[PDF: 3.99MB] 

'Is religion adaptive? Integrating cognition and function'  
Commentator:  Janet Radcliffe Richards [MP3: 57 mins, 51.8MB]

Dominic Johnson: 

 

PowerPoint
[PDF: 121MB] 

'Is religion an adaptation for inter-group conflict?'
Commentator:  Russell Powell [MP3: 50 mins, 46.6MB]

Ara Norenzayan: 

 

PowerPoint 
[PDF: 1.39MB] 

'Religion as parochial altruism'
Commentator:  John Wilkins [MP3: 54 mins, 49.7MB]

Harvey Whitehouse:

 

-

'Religion, cohesion, and hostility'  
Commentator: Michael Wong [MP3: 42 mins, 28.8MB]

Tuesday 18 May

Powerpoint

Audio

Roger Trigg:

 

-

'Religious toleration, religious freedom and human nature'   
Commentator:  John Perry [MP3:48 mins,43.5MB]

Ben Kaplan:

 

-

'A tale of two churches'
Commentator: Mark Sheehan [MP3:44 mins,40.6MB]

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong:

 

PowerPoint 
[PDF: 293KB]

'Religion and compromise'  
Commentator: Nick Shackel [MP3: 53 mins, 48.2MB]

Tony Coady:

-

'Religious disagreement and religious accommodation'
Commentator:  Liz Carmichael [MP3: 50 mins, 45.8MB]

Sue Mendus:

-

'Religious toleration and political liberalism' 
Commentator:  Nick Southwood [MP3: 46 mins, 41.6MB]

Wednesday 19 May

Powerpoint

Audio

Daniel Batson:

PowerPoint
[PDF: 8.83MB]

'Personal religion, tolerance, and universal compassion'
Commentator:  Steve Clarke [MP3: 51 mins, 47.1MB]

Owen Flanagan:
 

PowerPoint 
[PDF: 77.7KB]

'The view from the East pole:  Buddhist and Confucian
soteriologies and tolerance'

Commentator:  Guy Kahane [MP3: 51 mins, 46.9MB] 

Patricia Churchland:

-

'The relation between the neurobiology of morality and religion' 
Commentator: Julian Savulescu [MP3: 59 mins, 54MB]

Miles Hewstone:

-

'Social psychological aspects of religion and prejudice:
evidence from experimental and survey research' 

Commentator:  Ingmar Persson [MP3: 51 mins, 46.5MB]

Richard Dawkins:

-

Concluding remarks 
[MP3: 17 mins, 20MB]  |  Audio file courtesy of John Booth.

Panel discussion:

-

Panel discussion led by Roger Bingham of The Science Network  
[MP3: 49 mins, 45MB]  |  SRC videos:  The Science Network website

 

 
 
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