Past Remak Seminars

Perspectives on Moral Judgment 2012-2013

John Kruschke & Fritz Breithaupt
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 4 PM

Superhero movies present struggles of good versus evil, typically between a moral paragon and an immoral or amoral psychopath. But in most real-world conflicts, neither side lacks morality. Instead, the sides have different moral perspectives. This talk explored recent research in how different moral judgments emerge. It began with an overview of some contemporary ideas in moral psychology, including theories of universal moral concerns, differences across individuals, evolved moral emotions, and cultural devices such as narrative that can act as a superstimulus for moral emotions. The speakers then presented aspects of the work of the Moral Perspectives Research Group, which was supported by the Institute's Remak Seminar Award in 2012-13. One of the projects studied the effects of first-person and third-person narrative voice on moral side-taking by readers. Another investigated how real-world moral norms are imported into behavior in video games. A third project studied the relationship between punishment and perceptions of a transgressor's intention. A fourth project explored individual moral tunings and perceptions of humor in moral transgressions. The speakers concluded with a vision for the future of interdisciplinary research in moral judgment.

Fritz Breithaupt

Fritz Breithaupt

Fritz Breithaupt is Professor and Chair of the Department of Germanic Studies at Indiana University and is Adjunct Professor in Comparative Literature and Affiliate Professor in Cognitive Science. He studied in Hamburg, Berlin, and Baltimore and received his PhD in 1997 at Johns Hopkins University. He has published four books--on Goethe, the history of money, empathy, and the narrative mind--edited multiple volumes, and penned more than forty scholarly articles. He writes frequently for the press in Germany, especially Die Zeit and Zeit Campus.

Dignity, Equality, and Social Justice 2016-2017

Steve Sanders 

The focus of the 2016–2017 Remak Seminar was “Dignity, Equality, and Social Justice.” Seminar leader Steve Sanders argues that while “dignity” is frequently invoked in discussions of human rights and politics, the concept itself has received comparatively little attention. “Critical examination of dignity can connect us with significant legal and philosophical debates of the past while informing discourse on urgent contemporary controversies such as institutional racism, criminal justice, immigration policy, voting rights, health policy, religious liberty and LGBT equality,” Sanders said. IAS Director Eileen Julien said, “As we take the pulse of the world today, the 2016–17 seminar theme seems particularly timely, with the potential to engage broad sectors of the campus and Bloomington community. Through the Remak Seminar and other mechanisms that facilitate collaborations among local faculty and visiting colleagues in a wide range of fields, the Institute and IU Bloomington continually take an active part in national and international conversations.” The 2016–17 Remak Seminar Series kicked-off on November 10 with a video appearance, viewable here, by internationally acclaimed jurist and scholar Aharon Barak, former president of the Supreme Court of Israel. Barak discussed his book Human Dignity: The Constitutional Value and Constitutional Right.” As part of the series, an exhibition of materials from IU’s Lilly Library collections highlighting themes of human dignity reflected in law, literature, and other subject areas opened in early 2017. The exhibition was curated by Steve Sanders, professor in the Maurer School of Law and this year’s Henry H.H. Remak Distinguished Scholar, and Erika Dowell, the Lilly’s Associate Director and Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts. Held in the Lilly’s Lincoln Room, it consisted of four themed display cases. The materials included an edition of Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man;" a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation; a version of the 13th Amendment as it was going through Congress; an early draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; materials about the U.S. women's and LGBT movements; and other items. The exhibition was on display in February and March of 2017. In March 2017, Distinguished Professor George P. Smith II delivered a talk on “Dignity in Living and Dying,” which you can view here. In April of 2017, Steve Sanders delivered his Henry H. H. Remak Distinguished Lecture titled, “Equality and Dignity under the Constitution: LGBT Rights and Beyond.” 

Links to Recordings associated with this seminar:

Steve Sanders
Steve Sanders is a professor of law in the Maurer School of Law where he teaches constitutional and family law as well as constitutional litigation. He is also an affiliated faculty member in IU’s Department of Gender Studies, the Kinsey Institute, and the Department of Political Science. His scholarship focuses on questions arising from the 14th Amendment’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. In addition to scholarly publications, Sanders writes regularly for The Huffington Post, SCOTUSBlog, and other print and online media.


Other participants in the seminar were: 
  • Cara Caddoo, assistant professor, Department of History and The Media School
  • Judith Failer, associate professor, Department of Political Science
  • Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, professor and Harry T. Ice Faculty Fellow, Maurer School of Law; adjunct professor, Department of Latino Studies and Department of Political Science
  • Colin Johnson, associate professor, Department of Gender Studies; adjunct associate professor, Department of American Studies, Department of History and Department of Human Biology
  • Sheila Kennedy, professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs; faculty fellow, Center for Religion and American Culture; adjunct professor, Department of Political Science, all at IUPUI
  • Sean Nicholson-Crotty, professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs
  • Brian Powell, Rudy Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology; affiliated faculty, Department of Gender Studies and The Kinsey Institute