Civic Virtue and the Common Good

A Conference on the Roots of Democracy 


Moved to October 2021. Date TBD. 

“For as a human being is the best of the animals when perfected, so when separated from law and justice he is worst of all.”  Aristotle, Politics

The 2021 Conference on the Virtues seeks to gather scholars for a national conversation on the importance of civic virtue in shaping a society dedicated to the furtherance of the common good. We invite papers examining the origins of democracy, the conditions of a civil society, ethical norms for political participation, the characteristics of flourishing communities, and education for citizenship.


Keynote Speaker

Michael Sandel

Harvard political philosopher and bestselling author Michael Sandel challenges audiences to examine the ethical dilemmas we confront in politics, business, and our everyday lives. One of Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers, Sandel has been described as “the most relevant living philosopher,” “a rock-star moralist" (Newsweek), and “the most famous teacher of philosophy in the world.” (New Republic). His writings—on justice, democracy, morals, and markets—have been translated into 27 languages.

Sandel’s legendary course "Justice" has enrolled over 15,000 students and was the first Harvard course to be made freely available online and on public television. It has been viewed by millions of people around the world, including in China, where China Newsweek named him the “most influential foreign figure of the year.”

In his New York Times bestseller Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, Sandel takes readers on a fascinating journey of moral reflection and shows how reasoned debate can illuminate democratic life. Justice has sold over two million copies worldwide and inspired public debate about the ethical and civic questions of our time.

In his latest bestseller, What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, Sandel invites readers to rethink the role that money and markets should play in our lives. One of Foreign Policy’s 20 Must-Read Books of the Year, reviewers have called it “brilliant, easily readable, and often funny,” an “eloquent argument for morality in public life.” Now a six-part series hosted by the Ford Foundation and moderated by the Financial Times' Rana Foroohar, Sandel’s What Money Can’t Buy: The Series is available for streaming.   

Sandel served for four years on the President's Council on Bioethics, exploring the ethical implications of new biomedical technologies. This prompted him to write The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering, a book about the moral quandaries that arise when we seek to perfect our children and ourselves. His other books include Democracy’s Discontent, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, and Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics.