Kenan’s Arete Initiative Hosts National Summer School in Ethics

From July 9th to 14th, John Rose, Associate Director of the Arete Initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and several Duke professors led a seminar in ethics, philosophy, and religion for twenty-two rising high school seniors from around the country. The seminar posed questions regarding the foundations of morality and human rights, such as: Are religion or God necessary for morality and human rights to make sense? If not, what are their bases? Utility, social contracts? In what sense are basic rights “self-evident,” as the American founders claimed, given that people are born of different strengths and privileges? Students also reflected on the relationship between philosophy and religion, as well as the relationship between religion and science, raising the question of whether the natural sciences provide us with ethical direction or a justification for morality.

Evaluations showed that the students found the seminar to be intellectually rewarding and influential in their lives. As one student wrote, “I know I’m going to carry the things I’ve learned here for the rest of my life. Thank you.” Another remarked, “This seminar was amazing, and I’ll never forget it. I feel like I can’t even review it objectively because it’s become very dear to me.”