Public Lecture
Dieter Birnbacher

part of: ISUS 2018 Karlsruhe, Conference of the International Society for Utilitarian Studies
July 23, 2018, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Futures, International Society for Utilitarian Studies

Building Nr. 10.81
Otto-Ammann-Platz 1
Karlsruhe 76131

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

Go to conference's page


London School of Economics


The 2018 Conference of the International Society for Utilitarian Studies will take place on July 24-26 at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (with an informal get-together on 23 July). Local hosts are Michael Schefczyk and Christoph Schmidt-Petri.

The main theme is ‘Utility, Progress and Technology’, and the conference will be supported by KIT’s Institute of Technology Futures as well as the recently founded German Society for Utilitarian Studies (

The keynote speakers will be Julia Driver, William MacAskill and Anders Sandberg. Dieter Birnbacher will deliver a public lecture on July 23 (in German, English text will be provided).

Participants of ISUS are also welcome to join any of three workshops following the main conference (July 27-28) also held at KIT:

  • J.S. Mill’s Naturalism
    (organised by Philipp Schink, speakers include David Brink and Christopher MacLeod)
  • Prioritarianism
    (organised by Annette Dufner, Vuko Andric and Rudolf Schuessler, speakers include Nils Holtug, Ingmar Persson, Wlodek Rabinowicz, Shlomi Segall)
  • Derek Parfit’s Philosophical Legacy
    (organised by Christian Seidel, speakers include Roger Crisp, Matthias Hoesch, Brad Hooker, Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Melinda Roberts)

There will be a summer school for students (undergraduate as well as postgraduate) on July 22-23. Participants include Roger Crisp, Julia Driver, Anders Sandberg and Ulla Wessels.

Professional third-party childcare will be available during the conference.

We invite submissions of abstracts (about 200-300 words) for the main conference. Each paper gets a slot of 40 minutes, including 15-20 minutes for discussion.

The list of possible topics includes but is not limited to:

  • Classical and modern thinkers in the utilitarian tradition
    (e.g. Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Henry Sidgwick, Derek Parfit, Richard Hare, Peter Singer)
  • Topics related to utilitarianinism in ethics or political philosophy
    (e.g. varieties of utilitarianism, consequentialism,  enhancement, population ethics, world poverty)
  • Normative questions arising from the use of technology in general
    (e.g. geoengineering, automated driving, robotics, biotechnology, information technology)

Proposals for a panel should also be about 200-300 words long and additionally include the names of three to four speakers who have already agreed to partcipate in the panel. Panels should have a thematic focus - they could be about a recently published book, a particular argument, problem or controversy, or on an issue of current relevance. The emphasis should be on the debate between the panelists rather than on individual papers. Hence, the papers to be delivered in the panels do not individually go through the normal refereeing process, the panel is assessed as a whole. Panels should be 90 minutes long and also include time for discussion with the audience.  We support each accepted panel with 500 Euros for travel expenses and local accommodation. Panelists are welcome to also submit an abstract for a further talk.


Abstracts for the summer school should also be submitted via Easychair, details on the procedure are found on the website. The summer school is open to students only (undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral). All participants at the summer school are welcome to also submit an abstract for a talk at the main conference, and they may submit the same paper twice.

All speakers at ISUS are invited to submit a full paper of about 3000 words by October 31, 2018, for a refereed open-access print-on-demand proceedings volume to be published by KIT Scientific Publishing under licence CC-BY-SA 4.0. (authors are free to republish the material fully or in part elsewhere).

Important Dates:

  • March  2, 2018: deadline for the submission of abstracts for papers and panels
  • March 15, 2018: notification of acceptance
  • July 22-23, 2018: summer school
  • July 23, 2018: public lecture, informal get-together
  • July 24-26, 2018: ISUS main conference
  • July 27-28, 2018: satellite workshops
  • Oct. 31, 2018: submission of full papers
  • Dec. 2018: publication of conference volume

More information at:

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