CFP: Virtuous and Vicious Responses To Tragedy

Submission deadline: November 1, 2023

Conference date(s):
February 2, 2024 - February 3, 2024

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Christopher Newport University
Newport News, United States

Topic areas


CFP: Virtuous and Vicious Responses to Tragedy

Suffering and tragic situations have always been a part of human experience. In the current globalized world of instantaneous media serious tragedies are constantly before us such as: wars, pandemics, bigotry, injustice, political polarization, and natural disasters. Furthermore, smaller scale personal tragedies continue to be very real such as: sickness, loneliness, the death of loved ones, financial ruin, romantic abandonment, and broken hopes and dreams. 

Many conflicting strategies for addressing such situations have been proposed in response to such tragedies. Both Stoic acceptance and cathartic lament have been advocated. Embracing skepticism, especially religious skepticism, about the goodness of reality has been one response. While some religious adherents have responded with theodicy, others have claimed that theodicy trivializes the significance of tragedy. Anger, activism, prayer, and simple silence have all been proposed as responses to the tragic. We invite papers from all philosophical views on topics related to virtuous and vicious responses to suffering and tragedy. Insofar as virtuous responses facilitate flourishing and vicious responses detract from flourishing, we also invite social science and interdisciplinary papers on topics related to how responses to suffering promote or detract from suffering.

Potential Topics Include:

Is embracing metaphysical determinism or free will a better response to suffering?

In which situations is theodicy a virtuous or vicious response to suffering?

What is the role of anger in responding to the tragic?

The moral status of Utopian projects as a response to the tragic

Is there a difference in how we should respond to large scale and more personal tragedy?

Is Stoic indifference or cathartic lament a more virtuous response to tragedy?

What is the role of close friends and family in response to tragedy?

What role should religious resources (e.g. prayer) play in responding to tragedy?

Which responses to tragedy are more likely to result in flourishing?

Does the tragic justify increased skepticism of some type: religious, moral, epistemological, etc.?

Is natalism or anti-natalism a more appropriate response to the tragic?

What is the role of art in responding to tragedy?

What are the appropriate responses to suffering caused by injustice?

Which traits embody virtuous responses to suffering: Hope, Cynicism, Forgiveness, Retribution, Justice, Faith, Empathy, etc.?

What responses to suffering produce flourishing and other positive outcomes? What responses lead to negative outcomes?

Abstracts of ~1000 words are due 11/1/23. Send all submissions to [email protected]. All papers will be considered for inclusion in a book proposal following the conference. The sessions for each paper will be 50 minutes. Conference papers should be 3000-4000 words for 20-30 minutes of reading time. There will be a nominal registration fee for all participants.

The Conference will be held in person February 2-3, 2024 at Christopher Newport University. Our keynote speakers will be Nancy Sherman (Feb 2) and Eleonore Stump (Feb 3 by video).

Sponsored by The Christopher Newport University Department of Philosophy and Religion and The Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College

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Custom tags:

#Ethics, #Suffering, #Virtue