Responsibility, Norm Psychology, and Social Cohesion

May 30, 2023
Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy, University of Groningen

Oude Kijk in t Jatstraat 42
Groningen 9712LB

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


University of Groningen
University of Groningen
Cardiff University
Macquarie University
Radboud University Nijmegen


Radboud University Nijmegen

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Workshop on:

Responsibility, norm-psychology, and social cohesion

Faculty of Philosophy, University of Groningen

May 30th, 2023

Recent philosophical work on responsibility and blame, argues that one function of holding people responsible for their acts and decisions is to enhance social cohesion. Blaming sends a message that cultivates moral agency and shared moral awareness, which in turn improves interpersonal relationships. This view is in line with theories from evolutionary anthropology that stress the adaptive function of norm psychology. Norm psychology is widely regarded as a major contribution to evolved mechanisms that enhance social cohesion, and regulate collaboration. These views from philosophy and evolutionary anthropology are in tension, however, with approaches in conflict-resolution studies and therapy, which are critical of blame and fault-finding. Within these domains, blaming is considered to jeopardize communication, damage interpersonal relations as well as personal growth.

This workshop reconsiders to what extent and in what ways our practices of holding each other to norms help secure social cohesion. Can the above three approaches be reconciled? Are there different notions of social cohesion at play, and if so, which? And what might these three disciplines learn from each other? 


09:30 – 10:30 Kris Moody ‘A partial responsibility response to manipulation’

10:45 – 11:45 Daphne Brandenburg ‘Anger management for philosophers’ 

11:45 – 12:45 Frank Hindriks ‘Promoting Norm-Compliance: From Blame to Empowerment’

12:45 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 15:00 Anneli Jefferson & Katrina L. Sifferd ‘Punishing for whose benefit?’ 

15:00 – 16:00 Jeanette Kennett (keynote) ‘Blame and Social Role Reinforcement’

16:00 – 17:00 Marc Slors & Przemysław Zawadzki

  Everyone is welcome to attend the workshop! If you'd like to attend, please email [email protected].   

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May 16, 2023, 12:00pm CET

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