CFP: Self-Control Through Accountability To Others

Submission deadline: January 15, 2017

Conference date(s):
May 8, 2017 - May 9, 2017

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Conference Venue:

Arché, School of Philosophy, University of St Andrews
St Andrews, United Kingdom

Topic areas


We invite proposals for talks at this workshop, which will feature keynote papers by Natalie Gold (KCL), Katherine Hawley (St Andrews), and David Owens (KCL).

Topic 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 any of these questions, or indeed other questions relating to the practice of attempting self-control through making oneself accountable to others.

Practical Details We invite submission of 1000-word abstracts, for papers suitable for presentation in 25 minutes. Abstracts should be prepared for anonymous review, and sent to by 15th January 2017.

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