Virtue and the Good Life
Collective Reflection on a Well-Lived Life


Virtue and the Good Life is a yearlong, interdisciplinary program that provides a selective group of students the space to collectively reflect about a flourishing life and the traits that make it possible. Throughout the program, students will engage faculty and each other in relaxed educational settings that bring different disciplinary perspectives to bear on questions of how to live that confront us all.

The topic for 2019-2020 is Practical Wisdom, the master virtue that aids allows for sensible decision making in the face of our myriad values and situational complexities life throws our way. By participation in lectures and small group discussions, members of the cohort will think through issues that include: typical patterns of faulty, and often unconscious, decision making; the capacities that underlie wise-reasoning and aids/obstacles to their development; the connection of wisdom and flourishing.


Virtue and the Good Life’s activities each quarter will be organized around a faculty-delivered, public keynote lecture. Keynote lectures will address a different aspect of the topic. In addition to keynote lectures, participants will attend pre- and post-keynote discussions that introduce, contextualize, or continue reflection on the central issues that arise in the keynotes. Background reading will be distributed for the discussions and keynotes, but there will be no written work.

At each event there will be food and time for casual conversation with faculty and fellow students.

Application Info:

  • Criteria: All University of Chicago students are eligible to apply.
  • Application: To apply, complete the form here.
  • Deadline: Oct. 16th, 2019

For any questions, please contact Zack Loveless.


Fall Events Schedule

  • Pre-keynote Discussion:
    • Leaders: Candace Vogler, Zack Loveless
    • Date: October 29th, 2019, 5:30pm-7:30pm
    • Location: Pick Hall, 319
  • Keynote Lecture
    • Speaker: Candace Vogler
    • Title: Thinking Wisely
    • Date: November 5, 2019, 5:30pm-7:30pm
    • Location: Classics 110
    • RSVP: here
  • Post-Seminar
    • Leaders: Candace Vogler
    • Date: November 12th, 2019, 5:30pm-7:30pm
    • Location: Pick Hall, 319

Winter Events Schedule

  • Pre-keynote Discussion:
    • Leaders: Candace Vogler, Zack Loveless
    • Date: January 28th, 2020, 6pm-8pm
    • Location: Cobb Hall, Room 403
  • Focal Lecture
    • Speaker: Howard Nusbaum
    • Title: Wisdom and Virtue
    • Date: February 4th, 2020, 6pm-8pm
    • Location: Rosenwald Hall, Room 011
    • Description:People face different kinds of decisions and problems every day ranging from simple to complex and from personal to professional. Most of the time these problems appear to have a limited number of choices and seem straightforward. Which shirt to wear, which car to buy, whether to go out with a friend are all common and recognizable situations. Even when we worry about the decision we do not think about the virtues that might be involved. Instead we consider features of the situation as costs and benefits, sometimes even making a balance sheet. However we do not think about these decisions as involving virtue or wisdom. What is a wise decision and how does it differ from a smart one? While we deliberate about the details of such situations and the choice we wish to make, we do not think much about the process by which we make these choices. In literature and throughout history, people have considered what it means to reason wisely as opposed to intelligently, rationally, or emotionally. Philosophy has long considered what it means to make wise decisions, as well. In recent years psychological science has begun to analyze wisdom into foundational capacities and knowledge rather than consider wisdom a monolithic talent. Rather than treat wisdom as mythical or an idealization, psychological science is starting to consider this as a type of thinking that takes into account social values and impact and depends on several fundamental psychological processes such as empathy, perspective taking, self-regulation, perseverance, and reflection. In this talk I will discuss different psychological theories of wisdom, how wise reasoning may be particularly critical in the face of moral and ethical challenges, research that is relevant to understanding wisdom, and consider how wise reasoning may increase with certain kinds of experiences.
    • RSVP: Here.
  • Post-Seminar
    • Leaders: Candace Vogler, Howard Nusbaum
    • Date: February 11th, 2020, 6pm-8pm
    • Location: Cobb Hall, Room 403

Spring Events Schedule

  • Focal Lecture:
    • Speaker: Candace Vogler
    • Title: Value, Values, and Practical Wisdom
    • Date: June 2nd, 2020, 5:30pm-6:30pm
    • Location: Remotely via Zoom
    • RSVP: Register here for Zoom meeting details.
    • Description: Some of the more influential ways of thinking about value are rooted in thought about economic value.  While there are several approaches to understanding economic value, by most accounts such value can be represented in monetary terms.  As such, in principle, there is no barrier to comparing the economic values of wildly diverse things–a gallon of milk with an hour of ballet instruction, subscription to a digital streaming service with a flat of marigolds, and any of those with each other or with a pony or an airline ticket to any place you can fly these days, and so on.  Most of us are very adept at working with representations of economic value.  But what of other things that are also called ‘values’–kinds of good that do not translate into goods-in-the-economic-sense-of-the-term?  In this talk, I will think about economic value, other varieties of value, and what the latter have to do with the former.  I will begin with some stage-setting remarks about value and practical wisdom, and conclude by urging that kinds of good that do not lend themselves to monetary representation shape, frame, and multiply economic value.

For information on last year’s program, please click here.