Video: John Haldane, “Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life”

Professor John Haldane’s lecture “Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life” at the University of South Carolina on December 14, 2015 explored how virtues are the cornerstone of a happy life, including how the sciences of human behavior are related to philosophical investigations of value and conduct, and how ethical evaluation of action has to do with the issues of existential meaning and happiness. Haldane’s lecture was the keynote for the Virtue, Happiness, and Meaning of Life first Working Group Meeting.

John Haldane is professor of philosophy and director of the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs at the University of St Andrews, and the J. Newton Rayzor, Sr., Distinguished Professor in Philosophy at Baylor University. He is a scholar with the “Virtue, Happiness, and Meaning of Life” project. This lecture was funded by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. For more information, visit

Recap: 1st Working Group Meeting, days 1 and 2

(Jennifer A. Frey, Candace Vogler; David Shatz; Candace Vogler, Heather Lench, Marc G. Berman,  Mari Jyväsjärvi Stuart, Mattias Haase, Paul Wong, Jean Porter; Jennifer A. Frey, Michael Gorman, Nancy Snow, Fr. Thomas Joseph White; Mari Jyväsjärvi Stuart, David Shatz, Paul Wong, Nathan Cornwell; Fr. Thomas Joseph White, Reinhard Huetter, Fr. Kevin Flannery, Heather C. Lench; Reinhard Huetter, Fr. Kevin Flannery; Candace Vogler, Jean Porter, Kristján Kristjánsson, Mari Jyväsjärvi Stuart; David Shatz, Kristján Kristjánsson, Candace Vogler; Talbot Brewer, Kristján Kristjánsson; John Haldane; Fr. Kevin Flannery; Talbot Brewer, Matthias Haase; Kristján Kristjánsson, Reinhard Huetter; Talbot Brewer)

For more photos, visit our “December 2015 Working Group Meeting” Flickr album.

Welcome to our first working group meeting (December 14-19, 2016).


Some of us started arriving in Columbia, South Carolina as early as Saturday. The weather was nearly 70 degrees when we left the airport that evening and drove into town. Columbia was teeming with graduating students and their families, everyone dressed in their best clothes to celebrate, and the air was golden. It did not feel like the middle of December, which everyone agreed was a good thing.


On Sunday evening we had a cocktail reception at the Hilton Columbia Center for arriving scholars, where we met and mingled for a couple of hours. On Monday things began in earnest, with breakfast at 8 a.m. followed by the first of our working group sessions. Our first morning session featured David Schatz talking about humility, and Kristján Kristjánsson talking about awe. Schatz argued that knowing your weaknesses was the crux of humility, while Kristjánsson suggested that awe makes us at once greater and more humble beings.


There was no afternoon session that day, so everyone was free to rest, take a walk, or explore downtown Columbia. That evening John Haldane delivered a lecture at the Law School on Virtue, Happiness, and Meaning. Haldane used images from the Columbia Museum of Art to discuss how we can recoil from a seeming absence of meaning in the world, or we can probe further for meaning. More than 100 people attended the talk and enjoyed the reception afterward.


The next day, Tuesday, Jean Porter presented on Thomas Aquinas and Justice, arguing among other things that what orients us towards justice is hope and charity. Heather Lench discussed her work on how seemingly disruptive emotions can be very productive for helping people achieve their goals. After lunch Tal Brewer talked about dialectical activity as spontaneous rather than fixed in its intention, and Father Kevin Flannery explored issues of complicity, guilt, and evil.