The Existential Dimension of Doubt

September 5, 2024 - September 6, 2024
Department of Philosophy, University of Southampton

Avenue Campus
Southampton SO17 1BF
United Kingdom


  • European Research Council
  • United Kingdom Research and Innovation


Claremont College
Oxford University
University of Warwick
University of California, Irvine
University of Chicago
Colorado College
Oxford University
Drexel University
University of California, Irvine
Mark A. Tietjen
State University of New York, Stony Brook


University of Southampton
University of Southampton

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‘The Existential Dimension of Doubt’ - Launch Conference of the ERC Advanced grant project ‘The Ethics of Doubt – Kierkegaard, Scepticism and Conspiracy Theory’, September 5-6, 2024, University of Southampton, UK

While the ancient sceptics regarded scepticism about knowledge as a way of life, philosophers from Descartes to the present day have viewed it primarily as an intellectual problem that requires only a theoretical solution. The aim of this conference is to challenge this contention by focussing on the ‘existential’ dimension of doubt – i.e. the way in which sceptical problems affect the whole person. For example, Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, has proposed that doubt and anxiety are intrinsically linked, and, hence, that doubt may not just be an epistemic vice (if it is one), but also a character failing that consists in a refusal to confront (and to try and overcome) certain forms of angst, such as, for instance, a refusal to face up to the radical contingency and fragility of the (human) world and to take refuge in a ‘scapegoating’ scenario, where super-powerful, hidden agents are to blame: Descartes’ Evil Demon, on the one hand, or, say, a ‘Deep State’ controlling our actions, on the other. The conference aims to explore these issues from a number of different philosophical perspectives (both Kierkegaardian and non-Kierkegaardian) and to bring together Kierkegaard scholars and epistemologists, working in both theoretical and applied areas of the subject.

Confirmed speakers include: Anita Avramides (Oxford), Yuval Avnur (Scripps), Lucy Campbell (Warwick), Annalisa Coliva (UCI), Jim Conant (Chicago),
Rick Furtak (Colorado), Stephen Mulhall (Oxford), Marilyn Piety (Drexel), Duncan Pritchard (UCI), Mark A. Tietjen (Stony Brook).

If you are interested in attending, please contact my post-doc, Dr. Taylor Matthews ([email protected]).

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August 5, 2024, 9:00am BST

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