CFP: What makes us moral? Amsterdam, June 23-24, 2011

Morality is a necessary condition for peaceful and fruitful co-existence. The conditions for mo­ral behaviour in a rapidly changing, globalising world are not sustained automatically but demand our continuous attention. They are a matter of shared responsibility, with private as well as public aspects, concerning families as well as governments, individuals as well as organizations. To meet the present challenges of sustaining the conditions for morality, we need research combining the efforts of empirical scientists and philosophers.

Such research is being done in biology, psychology and sociology, as well as in educational science. The differentiation of academic re­search, creates difficulties in estimating the value of particular research within the wider context; and also for developing a more integral view. For these reasons the section Practical Philosophy of the Faculty of Philosophy, VU University, Amsterdam has taken the initiative to organize an interdisciplinary conference on the theme ‘What makes us moral?’ At this international conference contribu­tions from noted re­searchers studying the empirical roots of morality will be brought into dialogue with philosophical contributions on the theme.

Theme of the conference: The question ‘What makes us moral?’ can be approached in different ways. In a purely causal sense it refers to internal factors, such as the capacities for moral reflection and action, and external factors, such as the quality of the social and the cultural environment, that can be understood to be conditions for morality. It can also be understood more philo­sophi­­cally, referring to the characteristics which constitute morality. That makes it possible to translate the question ‘What makes us moral?’ in the following

sub-questions:

– Which capacities does one need to be moral?

(Like: reflective abilities, empathy, sympathy, imagination.)

– What causes people to really act morally?

(Like: strength of will, self-control, compassion, moral identity.)

– Which are the most relevant factors in moral education and development?

(Like: moral exemplars, socialisation into moral practices.)

– Which is the role of structural or situational characteristics in encouraging or discouraging moral action?

(Like: trust, informal social sanctions (blaming and shaming), fairness in the allocation of burdens and benefits of cooperation)

These are all questions that matter to empirical scientists as well as to philosophers.

Organisers: Drs. Akshaya de Groot, Prof. Anton van Harskamp, Prof. Bert Musschenga, Dr. Angela Roothaan.

Date and venue: The conference will take place on Thursday 23 and Friday 24 June, 2011 in Amsterdam at VU University. The language will be English. It is intended for philosophers, psychologists, educationalists, sociologists and other empirical scientists with an interest in the theme. There is a maximum of 80 participants.

Keynote speakers: Carel van Schaik, primatologist, Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Anthropological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich;Darcia Narvaez, Professor of Moral Psychology, University of Notre Dame; Adam Seligman, Professor of Religion, Boston University.

Call for papers: You are invited to submit an abstract (500 words) before November 1, 2010.

You will be informed about acceptance of your proposal before December 15, 2010. The complete paper (maximum of 8000 words) has to be send to the organisers before June 10, 2011. At the conference you get 20 minutes for the presentation, followed by 15 minutes discussion. Abstract and papers should be send to email account wmum@bezinnen.nl

Publication: We aim to publish a selection of the papers in a book on the topic of the conference.

Conference fee: The conference fee for Ph.D. students and for those unemployed is € 75; for others € 100.

Registration: Registration will be open from January 1, 2011. Please consult the conference website integerleven.nl (active from September 1, 2010) for registration possibilities.

Contact: Prof. Bert Musschenga, aw.musschenga@ph.vu.nl; ++ 31 20 598 5672 (programme); Mrs. N. Eikelboom, nienke@bezinnen.nl; ++ 31 20 598 5670 (organisational matters).

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