Medicine Grand Rounds | Barry Schwartz, PhD: “Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing”

Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Time: 12:00 to 1:00 pm
Location: Pinn Hall auditorium, 1-5
Cost: Free


Schwartz-BarryBarry Schwartz, PhD, is the Dorwin P. Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action and Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Swarthmore College. He is a highly popular TedTalks speaker, and studies the link between economics and psychology, offering startling insights into modern life.

Description of talk:

When our institutions fail to give us what we need and expect, we reach for two tools to try to fix them. We develop rules and standard operating procedures (“sticks”) to force people to do the right thing, and incentives (“carrots”) to entice them to do the right thing. Both strategies are evident throughout the educational system as the demand for “accountability” grows ever more insistent.

In this talk, I argue that neither does the job. What we need instead of rules and incentives is character—virtue. We need people who want to do the right thing because it’s the right thing. And most especially, we need the virtue that Aristotle called “practical wisdom.” Moreover, the more we rely on rules and incentives, the more we drive wise practices and wise people out of education. Our task is to find ways to nurture practical wisdom; instead we are destroying it.

Learning objectives: 

1. Attendees will learn what practical wisdom is.
2. Attendees will learn why practical wisdom is essential to effective medical practice.
3. Attendees will learn what threatens practical wisdom in modern medical practice.


Medicine Grand Rounds is offered every Wednesday throughout the year by the UVA Department of Medicine, in association with UVA’s Office of Continuing Medical Education. CME credit is available; instructions and forms are available at the event.

The University of Virginia School of Medicine is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The University of Virginia School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians should claim only credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. The University Of Virginia School Of Medicine awards one hour of participation to each non-physician participant who successfully completes this educational activity. The University of Virginia School of Medicine maintains a permanent record of participants who have been awarded hours of participation. CME transcripts may be obtained at www.cmevillage.com (click on Transcripts and follow the instructions).

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