Center for Values and Social Policy


Morris Colloquium
Ethics Bowl
Research Ethics

Morris Colloquium

The Morris Colloquium -- an annual conference in memory of Bertram Morris (Professor of Philosophy, University of Colorado at Boulder) -- is organized by the Philosophy Department of the University of Colorado at Boulder and supported by the generous contributions of the Bertram Morris Fund.


this year's Morris

Topic: Cultural Property and the Ethics of War
April 27-28, 2017

The destruction of cultural property in war zones is of pressing concern. Recent and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East have featured both the deliberate, symbolic destruction of cultural artifacts and sites by ISIS, such as the destruction of the Temple of Bel, and the incidental damaging of such sites during combat, such as the damage to the site of Ancient Babylon by the US military. While the last ten years have seen an increase in philosophical interest in the ethics of war, the existing literature approaches questions of harm almost exclusively in the context of harm to human beings. This colloquium will explore how we might extend thinking about the ethics of war to incorporate the value of cultural property.

This year's Morris Colloquium is cosponsored by the Department of Classics, the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the Peace and Conflict Studies Program in conjunction with the Philosophy Department and the Center for Values and Social Policy.

Wednesday April 26: Free Movie Screening, 5:30, HUMN 1B50
"The Destruction of Memory"
Over the past century, cultural destruction has wrought catastrophic results for humanity, and has been steadily increasing. The Destruction of Memory looks at why this has happened, and how the push to protect and rebuild has moved in step with the destruction.

Thursday, April 27: 7:30 – 9:00, Hellems 199
A Public Lecture by Erich Matthes (Wellesley)
"Saving Lives or Saving Stones?: The Ethics of Cultural Heritage Protection in War"
Abstract: In discussion surrounding the destruction of cultural heritage in armed conflict, one often hears two important claims in support of intervention to safeguard cultural heritage. The first is that the protection of people and the protection of heritage are two sides of the same coin. The second is that the cultural heritage of any people is part of the common heritage of all humankind. In this talk, I explore the ethical issues surrounding these claims, and question whether they ultimately provide firm foundations for arguments in favor of devoting resources to intervention on behalf of cultural heritage.

Friday, April 28: 3:00 – 6:00, Hellems 267
Two scholarly presentations, including commentary from philosophers at the United States Air Force Academy and a break in between for informal conversation.

"Cultural Property Under the Law of Armed Conflict" (3:00-4:15)
Speaker: Adil Haque (Rutgers Law)
Commentator: Logan Sisson (United States Air Force Academy)

"The Protection of Cultural Property in War" (4:45-6:00)
Speakers: Helen Frowe (Stockholm) and Derek Matravers (Open University)
Commentator: Mark Jensen (United States Air Force Academy)


previous Morris

Topic: Metaphysics and Its History
March 11-12, 2016

The topic of this year's colloquium is metaphysics and its history. It will be a crossover workshop bringing together contemporary metaphysicians working on issues with a rich history and historians of metaphysics working on issues of great contemporary significance, aiming to encourage a dialogue between what are arguably continuous lines of inquiry. To that end, historians will comment on non-historians and non-historians on historians.

More information can be found at the conference website:

You can also contact the conference organizers, Robert Pasnau ( and Raul Saucedo (


Bertram Morris

Bertram Morris (1908-1981) was born in Denver.  Educated at Princeton and Cornell, he taught at the University of Colorado from 1947 until his retirement in 1977.  He published books including The Aesthetic Process, Philosophical Aspects of Culture, and Institutions of Intelligence.


Bertram Morris is remembered as much for his committed involvement in the social issues of his community as for his scholarly work.  In 1953, he began an outreach program at Manual High School in Denver that still continues.  In 1975, he was given a special award by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado for his efforts on behalf of academic freedom and his work to improve conditions at the Boulder County Jail.


As an expression of admiration and gratitude, the Philosophy Department established this Colloquium when Bertram Morris retired in 1977.

Morris 2016

March 11-12: Metaphysics and Its History


Morris past

2015: Cognitive Values

2014: Alison Jaggar

2013: Philosophy and Inclusion

2012: Immigration

2011: Charles Mills

2010: David Benatar

2008: Philososki

Spring 2007: Shelly Kagan


Fall 2007: Development and Human Rights in a Globalizing World


2006: Reflections on Human Nature  




2004: Realizing Equal Citizenship 


Spring 2003: Global Justice


Fall 2003: Balancing Liberty and Security After 9/11


2002: Environmental Ethics  


2000: The Ethics and Politics of Consumerism 


1999: Equality in an Unequal World


1997: Philosophy and Film


1996: Education at a Crossroads: Toward a New Role for Philosophy in Education


1995: Business and Social Responsibility


1993: Biological and Cultural Diversity: Challenges in Environmental Ethics


1992: Universal Access to Health Care: Rights, Justice and Affordability


Fall 1991: Feminist Ethics


Spring 1991: Law, Lawyers and Justice


1990: Is Undergraduate Education Possible in the Multiversity?


1989: US Foreign Intervention: The Moral Issues


1988: Is There a Moral Alternative to Violence?


1987: Ethics and Medical Technology


1986: Realism, Relativism, and the Objectivity of Value


1985: The Press and the Public


1984: Orwell’s 1984 and Ours: Prospects for Freedom in America


1983: Annihilation: Genocide to Omnicide


1982: Environmental Futures: Issues in Ethics and Economics


1981: Bioethics: Health and Human Values


1980: Morality, Rationality and Environmental Crisis: Society, Energy and Carbon Dioxide


1979: The Power of the State


1978: Morality and International Relations


1977: Compensatory Justice

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