MANCEPT Workshop - Causal Histories: The Role of Genealogical Inquiries in Moral, Social and Political Philosophy

September 12, 2023 - September 13, 2023
Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT), University of Manchester, Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT), University of Manchester

University of Manchester
United Kingdom

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This event is available both online and in-person


University of Southampton
Oxford University
University of Bern


Jagiellonian University

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In recent years, the term ‘genealogy’ has been gaining currency in moral, social, and political philosophy, with several authors arguing that attending to the causal histories of certain beliefs, concepts or practices can contribute to their evaluation. Whether, how, and which genealogical methods can contribute to this end, however, is still subject of debate.

The issue cuts across traditional methodological borders. Authors working in the critical theory tradition generally agree that genealogical accounts can reveal something puzzling about their targets – although they disagree both on what these puzzling features are (Haslanger 2012, Srinivasan 2019), and on whether this revelation is an integral or only a propaedeutic component of critique (Owen 2002, Koopman 2013, Lorenzini 2020). On the other hand, analytic philosophers tend to look at genealogies with an eye on gaining functional insights about their targets, but disagreements remain as to what these insights amount to and how they can be retrieved (cf. Smyth 2020 and Queloz 2021).

At the applicatory level, the debate is gaining just as much traction, with several authors using genealogies to elucidate, criticize or vindicate certain conceptions of - and views about - terrorism (Erlensbusch-Anderson 2018), adaptive preferences (Enoch 2020), liberalism (Testini 2021), property (Rossi and Argenton 2021), forward-looking responsibility (Alfano 2021) and reasonableness (Lawlor 2022).

This variety shows that genealogical approaches are set to become a key topic of discussion in practical philosophy broadly construed, and such a discussion promise to be a lively one, bringing scholars with different backgrounds together and getting philosophy in closer contact with empirical disciplines such as evolutionary anthropology, sociology, and cultural history, to name but a few.

This workshop aims at gathering scholars working on genealogical methods and their applications to explore potential links and synergies among different lines of enquiry. 

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