CSU, Chico News

Ethicist Andrew Flescher to Speak on Psychopathic Behavior and Free Will on October 14

Date: 10-07-2010

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs

Andrew Flescher, Ph.D., will deliver a paper “Is There any Chance in Hell? Psychopathology and the New Manichean Challenge to Moral Agency” on Oct. 14, 8 p.m., Ayres 106. The talk, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the Humanities Center and the Department of Religious Studies at California State University, Chico.

Flescher, who taught at CSU, Chico from 2000 to 2009, is currently an associate professor of preventive medicine at State University of New York, Stony Brook. He specializes in religion, ethics and medical humanities. He currently serves on the Stony Brook Hospital Ethics Committee and Organ Donor Council.

New evidence has recently emerged in the fields of neurology and psychology that suggests that psychopathic behavior is a predictable and scarcely preventable manifestation of a damaged brain. Traits of psychopathology, including callousness and a lack of emotion, can be detected in children even at a very young age. Flescher asks, “What implications do these findings have for traditional understandings of the relationship between free will and the commission of terrible wrong doing?”

Flescher served for five years as the director for the Center for Applied and Professional Ethics, CSU, Chico. He received his B.A. in medieval and Renaissance studies and history from Duke University in 1991, and his Ph.D. in religious studies from Brown University in 2000.

Flescher is the author of two books: “Heroes, Saints, and Ordinary Morality (Georgetown University Press, 2003) and “The Altruistic Species: Scientific, Philosophical, and Religious Perspectives of Human Benevolence,” co-authored with Daniel L. Worthen (Templeton Press, 2007).

The “Altruistic Species” earned the Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title in 2009, and the course that inspired the book, What Motivates Altruism?, taught by Flescher and Worthen, also won a national award.

Currently, Flescher is finishing his third book, “Four Models of Moral Evil,” under contract with Georgetown University Press.