Self-Control Through Accountability To Others

May 8, 2017 - May 9, 2017
Arché, School of Philosophy, University of St Andrews

School V, St Salvator's Quad, North St
St Andrews KY16 9AL
United Kingdom

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Organisers:

Hawley Katherine
University of St Andrews

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Speakers include: Natalie Gold (KCL), Katherine Hawley (St Andrews) and David Owens (KCL).

Self-control can be bolstered by strategic management of our social and physical environment, as well as through sheer strength of will. Explicitly making ourselves accountable to other people – announcing goals or making promises – seems like a useful addition to the self-control arsenal: it enables us to enlist both our sense of obligation, and our awareness of potential pride or shame. This form of self-control raises a number of intriguing philosophical questions:

  • What differences are there between announcing intentions, making predictions, promising, and contracting, as methods for achieving self-control?
  • What, if any, obligations does the audience incur when offered such an announcement, prediction, promise, or contract?
  • What is the relationship between attempting self-control through making myself accountable to others, and attempting self-control through making myself accountable to my future self (and what would such self-accountability amount to)?
  • What relationship is there between making oneself accountable to others in this way, and accounts of joint intention and joint commitment, such as those due to Margaret Gilbert and Michael Bratman?
  • (How) can we achieve self-control in this way without unethically exploiting friends and family in order to meet our own goals? Is it fair to make promises you know you are unlikely to keep, in the desperate hope that this time you’ll manage to keep your word? How can we strike gain the benefits of making ourselves accountable without the ethical costs of exploiting others?
  • How does this more social form of self-control compare in value to self-control achieved in other ways? Is it more admirable to achieve self-control without needing to depend upon other people’s opinions of us, or is there perhaps a special community-oriented virtue involved with making oneself accountable to others?

Participants at the workshop are invited to address these questions, or indeed other questions relating to the practice of attempting self-control through making oneself accountable to others.

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April 24, 2017, 9:00am BST

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