CFP: God, Virtue, and Moral Absolutes: Anscombe's "Modern Moral Philosophy" at 60

Submission deadline: October 1, 2017

Conference date(s):
January 21, 2018 - January 23, 2018

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Conference Venue:

Nanovic Institute for European Studies , University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, United States

Topic areas


In 1958, the English philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe published “Modern Moral Philosophy,” one of the most influential essays in contemporary philosophy. Reacting against a half-century of British moral philosophy, Anscombe charted a path to a revival of Aristotelian moral inquiry, boldly defending three controversial theses. First, that it is “not profitable for us at present” to engage in moral philosophy until there has been the development of “an adequate philosophy of psychology” (i.e. a proper understanding of action, habit, choice etc.). Second, that the concepts “moral obligation and moral duty” presuppose the existence of a divine lawgiver and, in the absence of a belief in such a deity, should be abandoned. Third, that twentieth-century English philosophers are separated by differences “of little importance,” with such authors generally rejecting the existence of absolute moral prohibitions, should consequences be sufficiently detrimental. These claims have played a large role in the forging of contemporary research projects on virtue theory, theological ethics, the history of moral philosophy, and other matters of practical and speculative importance.

Aims and Goals

This conference aims to re-assess the legacy of this enduring work of moral reflection, both by advancing our understanding of its central contentions and by sharing cutting edge research on the concerns that motivated Anscombe six decades ago. We hope not only to enrich existing projects, but also to build new networks among scholars from a diverse set of intellectual and cultural backgrounds.

Call for Abstracts

We welcome papers from a variety of fields of moral inquiry, including but not limited to philosophy, theology, political science, psychology, and law. Suggested topics include:

  • Divine Command Theory
  • Virtue Theory
  • Neo-Aristotelian Ethics
  • Theories of Intention and Action
  • Natural Law Theory
  • Exceptionless Moral Norms
  • The Relationship Between Legal and Moral Categories

Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words by October 1, 2017 to [email protected].

Travel: Presenters

All presenters will receive a private hotel room for two nights during the conference as well as a small stipend of up to $150 to help defray documented transportation expenses. There is also a limited fund to further assist those who may be traveling from abroad. Such funds will be awarded upon request, based on availability.

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