Fiery Cushman

Professor of Psychology &
Director of the Moral Psychology Research Laboratory - Harvard University

Zoom event: December 1, 2021 at 6:00pm MT

  • Sponsored by the Harvard Alumni Association, SW Region Clubs

  • To register, please RSVP below and include the name of your local, affiliated Harvard Club.

The paradox of moral value

"... morality constrains us in a way that is different from, and more powerful than, our ordinary preferences."


For two decades neuroscientists have been studying how the brain makes moral decisions—for instance, whether to lie, cheat or steal.  For the most part, the answer has been: The same way it makes ordinary decisions, like whether to eat a steak or a salad.  But something doesn’t seem right about this.  It certainly feels like morality constrains us in a way that is different from, and more powerful than, our ordinary preferences.  Our laboratory has been working to solve this paradox of moral value.

Fiery Cushman is a professor of psychology and director of the Moral Psychology Research Laboratory at Harvard University. He studies how people make decisions, with a special emphasis on moral decisions.  His work has addressed the structure and function of punishment, the aversion to performing harmful actions, and how candidate actions spontaneously come to mind for consideration.  He received his BA and PhD from Harvard and taught for several years at Brown University prior to joining the faculty at Harvard.

The Harvard Clubs of the Southwest Region, including the RMHUC, invite you to join us on Zoom on December 1, 2021 at 5pm PT / 6pm MT for a discussion with Harvard Professor Fiery Cushman as he shares his work in this area.


From the Harvard website

Cushman's research aims to organize the astonishing complexity of moral judgment around basic functional principles. Much of it is motivated by a simple idea: Because we use punishments and rewards to modify others’ behavior, one function of morality is to teach others how to behave, while another complementary function is to learn appropriate patterns of behavior.

His laboratory investigates these issues using a wide range of methods, including surveys, laboratory behavioral studies, psychophysiology, infant and child research, functional neuroimaging, economic games and formal modeling. The ultimate goal is to use the moral domain to understand phenomena of more general importance: the balance between learned and innate contributions to cognition; the human capacity to explain, predict and evaluate others’ behavior; the relationship between automaticity and control; and the architecture of learning and decision-making in a social context.

Registration: Zoom event details will be provided to those who RSVP by November 30, 2021 at 5:00pm PT/6:00pm MT.

If you would like to register late for the event or have questions, please direct them to

the Harvard Club of Northern Nevada & the Sierras at: 



Harvard Alumni Association - Southwest Region Clubs:

  • Rocky Mountain Harvard University Club
  • Harvard Club of Utah
  • Harvard Club of New Mexico
  • Harvard Club of Phoenix
  • Harvard Club of Nevada
  • Harvard Club of Northern Nevada and the Sierras
  • Harvard Club of Southern Arizona