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I’m excited to announce a workshop on the Moral Foundations of Progress Studies.

The progress studies community has had a lot of discussion about technology, economics, history, and politics. However, there is no consensus on the moral basis for valuing or pursuing “progress,” and there are key open questions about how progress is to be judged and measured, who should benefit from it, and what type of progress we should pursue.

The goal of this workshop is to reach a consensus on what major moral/ethical questions are at the foundations of a study of progress, and what broad answers to these questions have been proposed. A few designated attendees will take notes and draft a short article afterwards summarizing the discussion. (We’re currently looking for the appropriate place to publish this; it may be in a journal or on a blog.)

Apply to attend here. Space is limited; we’ll be prioritizing people in or with a connection to academia, and public intellectuals who write about progress or adjacent topics.

When: March 4–6, 2022

Where: University of Texas at Austin

Agenda (subject to change):


  • Survey of writers on progress (including Cowen, Deutsch, Pinker)
  • Theories of well-being
  • Panel: Steven Pinker, David Deutsch (via video)
  • Metrics and standards of value
  • Challenges to the claim that the last two centuries represent progress


  • Interrogating the idea of moral progress
  • Progress & safety (including the Precautionary Principle and existential risk)
  • Challenges in assessing possible futures

Sunday morning:

  • Wrap-up

Except for the Friday panel, each session will be a 90-minute discussion led by one or a small panel of participants who give a brief intro.


  • Jason Crawford, founder of The Roots of Progress
  • Gregory Salmieri, director of the Program for Objectivity in Thought, Action, and Enterprise at the Salem Center at UT Austin

Attendees are being invited from the progress studies and Effective Altruism communities, plus moral philosophers familiar with the virtue-ethics and well-being literatures.

There is no cost to attend. We have some funding to pay for travel and lodging for a limited number of participants; you can request funding when you apply.




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