Nature and Norms: Values in a Material World

October 17, 2015
Department of Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University

Gilman Hall
3400 N. Charles St.
United States

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Sharon Street
New York University

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Philosophers have long been concerned with the sometimes fraught relationship between the natural and the normative. This assumed dichotomy runs through much of contemporary philosophy, affecting the way we think and talk about topics such as knowledge and justification, normative and descriptive language, free will and determinism, responsibility and personhood, and the distinction between natural and artificial kinds.  

We welcome high-quality work from graduate students living, working, or studying in the DC/Baltimore region in any area of philosophy that addresses problems about the place of norms and values within a naturalistic understanding of the world. Paper topics might include (but are not limited to): Are values and norms part of the "basic furniture of the universe?" Are normative facts reducible to non-normative facts? What is the relationship between normative or evaluative language and descriptive language? Is a naturalistic worldview compatible with non-reductive accounts of values and norms? Are there implicit values or norms in scientific, philosophical, and other epistemic practices that have functioned to exclude or silence possible groups of inquirers? Are non-human animals capable of being valuers or of somehow "perceiving" or "experiencing" value? Does philosophy have a specialized role in articulating how norms and values can exist in a material world, or can science do without this aspect of philosophy? Is value and norm realism a viable position? Are values and norms the products of evolutionary selection mechanisms? How do/did norms and values come into being? In addition to broad “meta-philosophical” questions, papers may also consist of conceptual and/or empirical work which presupposes a certain relationship between the natural and the normative. We welcome papers in the core areas of philosophy, as well as philosophy of religion, philosophy of race and gender, feminist philosophy, philosophy of non-human animals, political philosophy, and the history of philosophy.  

Submission Deadline: July 31, 2015

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