Project Overview

What is love? What is the role of love and caring in human freedom and other aspects of human agency? How do love and caring give purpose to our activity? How are they central to our capacity to reason about what to do? How can an understanding of love and caring contribute to our understanding of our capacity to value and respond morally: of character, integrity, and moral responsibility? These questions, we believe, cannot be answered except by examining the roles of love and caring in human agency. Our project will address such questions by capitalizing on the latest advances in neuroscience, and fostering interdisciplinary exchange between the best philosophical theories of love and caring, the relevant insights from psychology, law, medicine, and economics, and cutting edge scientific research on the emotions. In particular, we have identified three central questions we plan to investigate:

  • To what extent are our capacities to value and respond morally shaped by and grounded in our capacity to love each other and ourselves?
  • What role do the capacities for love and caring play in human freedom, and what can this tell us about the nature of autonomy and human individuality?
  • If we take seriously the human capacities for love and caring, how should this alter our understanding of rationality and our capacity to reason about what to do?

The goal of this project is to address these and a host of related questions, and thereby foster new advances in the study of love and human agency. (Click here for a more detailed description of our research project.) In doing this, we will:

  • hold an interdisciplinary Workshop at the Brocher Centre near Geneva to initiate our conversations and establish an interdisciplinary network of leading experts on our theme,
  • hold a Summer Retreat to enable intensive collaboration and brainstorming among participants, thereby developing fresh avenues for future research,
  • hold a Final Conference to showcase, for our primary audience of academics but also for the broader public, the results of the interdisciplinary collaborations and connections which we will have developed in the previous two years,
  • sponsor three Post-Doctoral Fellows who will conduct their own research while leading interdisciplinary Reading Groups at each institution, and
  • hold an Essay Competition.

Details about each of these activities will be forthcoming.