Wittgensteinian Approaches to Moral Philosophy (Third Edition)

September 21, 2017 - September 23, 2017
Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven


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Keynote speakers:

Sophie-Grace Chappell
The Open University
James Conant
University of Chicago
Raimond Gaita
University of Melbourne
Edward Harcourt
Oxford University
Sabina Lovibond
Oxford University


Benjamin De Mesel
KU Leuven

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Wittgenstein’s relationship toward ethics and moral thought has always been complicated and defiant of any kind of straightforward characterizations. While he grappled with moral and ethical considerations throughout his life, and clearly possessed a profound moral conviction, neither in his earlier nor later works did he ever develop an explicit ethical theory. Instead, readers are seemingly confronted with two ways of reading him: either with the call to remaining silent about matters outside the realm of representation in his earlier writings or with allusions to a method for clearing up with philosophical difficulties in his later works – often referred to as therapeutic philosophy.

The primary focus of this conference is to explore potentially relevant and fruitful uses (as well as possible difficulties) of Wittgenstein’s ideas and methodology for contemporary moral philosophy. As such, the presenters will be addressing key themes within the scholarly debate involving Wittgenstein, ethics, and moral thought: whether a positive ethical theory can be extracted from his works, to what extent his later ideas involving philosophy as therapy resolving philosophical confusions can be applied to moral philosophy, as well as exploring whether concepts (e.g. language-game, form(s)-of-life, meaning as use, and family resemblance) or perhaps a method or style of reasoning that could be characterized as Wittgensteinian might be relevant for contemporary moral philosophy.

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August 15, 2017, 5:00am CET

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