CFA: 2019 CNY Moral Psychology Workshop

Submission deadline: January 15, 2019

Conference date(s):
May 25, 2019

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Department of Philosophy, Le Moyne College
Syracuse, United States

Topic areas


Call for Abstracts

The CNY Moral Psychology Workshop is an opportunity for philosophers who live within or outside the upstate New York region to present papers in progress on moral psychology and to receive useful feedback on their work. The goal of this workshop is to bring together those interested in topics in moral psychology for fruitful interaction and discussion, and thereby, emphasize how moral psychology (as it was traditionally construed) remains an important, coherent, and distinct variety of philosophical inquiry.

As presently conceived, this workshop will meet once a year. Each workshop will feature 4-5 papers in an informal, seminar-style format, and each paper will be followed by a short commentary and discussion. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The Nature of Morally Relevant Mental States: What is desire, pleasure, emotion, or intention? What is anger, conscience, regret, respect, or sympathy? What kinds of objects can these states be directed towards? What sort of rational relations do they bear with other mental states? Does acting ethically or virtuously presuppose the possession of any such states?

  • Moral Motivation: Are all actions, as Hume thought, actuated by some sort of desire or passion? Or are some actions motivated, as Kant thought, by a recognition that they accord with duty or reason alone? How do emotions or conscience or sympathy operate in the course of motivating a morally commendable action?

  • The Virtues: What is courage, generosity, modesty, or kindness? Similar questions occur for vices: what is wickedness, cruelty, or hypocrisy? What do all virtues have in common, and what makes them good? What is the difference between virtue and vice? How are virtues cultivated?  

  • Irrationality and Moral Failures: What is ‘akrasia’ or weakness of will? What is self-deception? Could it sometimes be morally acceptable or commendable to be weak-willed or self-deceived? Is it possible to do evil or wrong in a clear-eyed way, without ignorance, akrasia, or self-deception? Are there other sorts of interesting moral failures with psychological sources?

  • Subjective Theories of Value: Could desires, pleasure, or emotions be part of the standard for what makes something good, or what constitutes a good life for a person, or what constitutes a reason for action? Is pleasure the sole good, as hedonists suggest?

  • Moral Responsibility: What does it mean to be morally responsible for an action? Does responsibility involve, as Strawson thought, “reactive attitudes,” such as blame and praise? Can one be responsible for having or lacking virtues? Is one responsible for desires, thoughts, or emotions?  

Papers could address these topics either by considering the work of one or several historical figures, or alternatively by focusing on issues and arguments from contemporary scholarship.

To be considered for the 2019 workshop, please submit a 500-600 word abstract through the Workshop's web page below. Please ensure that all identifying information has been removed from the abstract itself. Abstracts are due by Jan. 15. Authors will be notified by Feb. 7, and will be asked to circulate drafts of their papers in May.

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