Philosophy and Gambling

October 18, 2019 - October 19, 2019
Philosophy and Religious Studies Program, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Macau

Avenida da Universidade

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Forms of gambling have been present in every society. While gambling has often been treated with suspicion, being immersed in games of chance gives rise to distinctive forms of experience. Philosophers have mentioned gambling only in passing or treated it from a one-sidedly rational perspective as part of game theory. This conference sets out to correct this marginalization by interpreting a variety of gambling-related phenomena from a range of philosophical perspectives.

Inspired by the historical and political palimpsest of Macau, this conference offers cross-cultural reflections on the gambler as a citizen, consumer and seeker of fortune. All three of these aspects are embodied by the particularities of Macau, but also manifest more broadly across Asia and elsewhere, both historically and in the contemporary moment. The inevitable complexity of “the gambler” as a figure offers many different routes into theorising those who play games with money on the line, and how their lives intersect with their surroundings, contexts, and historical moments.  What theories are best suited to understanding gambling in Asia and its global diasporas? What do gambling’s transforming architectures, physical, digital and regulatory, tell us about bodies, borders and statecraft in different kinds of societies? Which cultural histories and spatial narratives best account for gambling’s transnational flows and local impacts? How do gambling industries reproduce and unsettle national, class, ethnic and gender identities within and between nation states? How is the gamification of everyday life, together with the gamblification of videogaming, transforming what it means to play with and for money?

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