Simone de Beauvoir as a Moral Philosopher

June 28, 2024 - June 29, 2024
Institute für Philosophie, Freie Universität Berlin


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University of Oxford
Cornell University


Freie Universität Berlin

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The philosophical value of Beauvoir’s work has in recent decades begun to attract wider recognition. Papers about her work are now published in major journals, and philosophers of very different backgrounds and methods do philosophy with and from her work. Many scholars convincingly argue that her ideas are useful for analyzing our contemporary world. Yet, to many scholars and to the general public, she is primarily seen as a feminist writer, a political philosopher, or a phenomenologist. Literary studies have successfully emphasized the moral dimension of her work, focusing largely on her novels. However, we are convinced that many aspects of Beauvoir’s moral philosophy need to be (re)discovered, e.g., in moral psychology, metaethics, normative ethics. For this conference, we invite philosophers as well as political theorists, sociologists, and literary scholars, historians, linguists, anthropologists, and so on,

to contribute to a study of Beauvoir’s moral philosophy and ethical writing in general. 

Contributions on The Second Sex are of course most welcome, but we are also hoping to discuss her moral essays (Pyrrhus and CineasThe Ethics of Ambiguity, etc.) as well as her travel diaries, her study of old age, her novels and memoirs. 

Some possible topics include: 

-       Normativity in Beauvoir’s work 

-       Existentialist ethics

-       Metaethics in Beauvoir

-       The articulation of moral and political normativity in Beauvoir

-       Morality and Violence

-       Beauvoir’s analysis of authenticity, of bad faith

-       Ambivalence and ambiguity

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