CFP: Sin and Vice

Submission deadline: April 1, 2022

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Sin and Vice

Special Issue of TheoLogica - An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology (https://ojs.uclouvain.be/index.php/theologica)  

Edited by Maria Silvia Vaccarezza (University of Genoa) & Michele Paolini Paoletti (University of Macerata)

Sin can be defined as the transgression of the law of God. Vice can be defined as a tendency towards evil and/or away from goodness. 

Through this special issue, we wish to investigate the multiple ways in which sin and vice are connected with one another. Moreover, we also wish to present novel and original contributions into the metaphysical, ethical and epistemological bearings of sin and vice. In this respect, our purpose is to examine how philosophical inquiries from multiple perspectives may contribute to clarifying theological doctrines of sin and vice and how the latter may contribute in turn to illuminating the former.

Within metaphysics and philosophy of religion, it is worth considering how both primal sin and original sin affected angelical and human nature from an ontological viewpoint. More generally, it is worth exploring the ontology of sin and vice: is sin/vice a state? Or a disposition/tendency? Or a categorical property underlying the possession or the lack of a disposition/tendency? Or is it an absence (i.e., the lack of something), which is then curiously endowed with causal powers on its own? Does sin/vice exist – or does it ‘fully’ exist, thus committing philosophers to their being multiple degrees of being? What happens when sin/vice is taken to get increased or decreased or wiped out? Can it be transmitted? Can it also characterize social entities and natural, non-human ones? Should sin and vice be treated on the same footing as concerns their ontology?

The existence of sin and vice obviously engenders several questions for theism, insofar as it puts in question the existence of God and/or His omnipotence, omniscience and perfect benevolence. To make sense of sin/vice, one may also be led to consider the possibility of there being multiple, non-omnipotent deities in competition with one another and/or past lives bearing on future ones. With regard to such issues, philosophy may provide common ground for fruitful dialogue between different theological and religious traditions.

Vice is obviously a perennial issue for ethics, and particularly for virtue theory. Traditional debates on vice/sin concern the existence of free will, its structure and functioning, its connection with human epistemic faculties. It has been also debated how and to what extent are such faculties affected and possibly weakened by sin/vice. During the last decade, however, interest in vices has spread from ethics to epistemology and from there to political theory. An extremely promising field this special issue wishes to investigate is therefore represented by so-called vice epistemology. Virtue epistemology has recently started developing a relatively autonomous inquiry into epistemic vices, such as epistemic injustice, gullibility, dogmatism, prejudice, closed-mindedness, and negligence, treated as an object of analysis in themselves, rather than the mere opposite of epistemic virtues. But what is the exact relationship between virtues and vices, both in ethics and epistemology? Is cultivating virtues the main, or even only, antidote to counter the spread of vicious characters, or should we aim, more modestly, to some form of “vice management”? What is, if any, the political impact of a flawed epistemic character?  Political theorists who read the current post-truth scenario through this lens wonder whether epistemic vices, such as inaccuracy, arrogance, closed-mindedness and epistemic insouciance, can be held responsible for the current unprecedented number of misleading claims and inaccurate statements that are polluting the public sphere. Are certain epistemic vices threatening the legitimacy of democratic deliberation? If so, should we label these vices as political vices? Should we hold individuals accountable for them, or should we blame institutions and/or the media? Can we legitimately talk of vices of societies and social groups?

Epistemic vices (and virtues) intersect philosophy of religion in two different ways. On the one hand, it is possible to examine the relationships between epistemic vices (and virtues) and specific religious and theological doctrines or portions of doctrines. On the other hand, it is also possible to consider the relationships between the former and the ethical, epistemic, psychological and social dimensions of religion and religious experience as such. The special issue will be partly dedicated to developing these points of intersection.

We solicit original and rigorous contributions on all the topics presented above and on further topics, insofar as they intersect philosophy of religion and/or analytical theology.


Deadline for submission: April 1st, 2022


Full papers should be submitted via our website: https://ojs.uclouvain.be/index.php/theologica/index. In order to contribute equally to scientific international discussions held in several languages, articles written in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish are accepted. Visit the TheoLogica homepage for a description of the journal and instructions to authors.

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