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SSHRC Postdoctoral Prize
"Basing family policy purely on scientific claims can sometimes distract our attention from the main issues. Family policy issues are about something larger than a question of science—they’re about the kind of world we want to live in, how we want to raise our children, and what our ability is to inform science. My research provides insight into how to answer these societal questions."
With ethics training having become mandatory in research disciplines from medicine to business and law, researcher Bruce Maxwell is taking a closer look at where ethics begin.
By studying the moral psychology and ethical education of children, Maxwell will further our understanding of social, emotional and moral development, and how these relate to parenting and family policy.
Maxwell is a philosopher of science whose research focuses on the psychology behind ethical judgment and moral choices. Working closely with colleagues in psychology, he is investigating such questions as what it means to be a morally good person, to what extent a person can be held responsible for their own moral character, and the differences between moral and amoral behaviour.
He is a new member of a group of researchers involved in developing moral education programs as part of Québec’s provincial curriculum for students from grade one to the end of high school. Maxwell, who has ties to the Centre de recherche en éthique de l'Université de Montréal and the neuroethics unit of the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal, is also questioning the current use of neuroscience research to support popular parenting practices and proposals for family policy.
"What we have seen coming out of psychology labs has been inconsistent with people’s beliefs and values about what was important to them," says Maxwell, who adds that he is looking forward to contributing to the overall social and cultural development of children through his future research findings.
Maxwell’s research previously earned him an award from the Association for Moral Education as well as a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, which he completed in Germany at the University of Münster. In addition to obtaining his PhD from the University of Münster, he also worked as a researcher at its Institute of Educational Studies and Institute for the Ethics, History and Theory of Medicine.
The SSHRC Postdoctoral Prize is awarded each year to the most outstanding SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship recipient.