Duties to Oneself: Moral, Social and Political Dimensions

September 7, 2022 - September 9, 2022
Department of Philosophy, University of Manchester

Arthur Lewis Building, Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL
United Kingdom

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

View the Call For Papers


Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
University of Edinburgh
Cambridge University
University of Gothenburg
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Utrecht University


Cambridge University

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Recent years have seen a resurgence of philosophical interest in duties to oneself. However, much of the recent literature has centered on fairly abstract moral considerations: whether the notion of a duty to oneself is coherent, whether we have such duties at all, how they differ from mere prudential imperatives, etc. In contrast, relatively little attention has been paid to the significance of duties to oneself for the social and political domain. Duties to ourselves could shape what states and societies owe their members, as well as shaping what members owe to the state and to one another. This workshop would convene scholars to investigate these largely unexplored relationships between self-regarding duties and the social and political domains.  

Workshop contributions may address the following concerns (among others): 

  • Some argue that duties to oneself arise out of practical identities the agent occupies. If practical identities are often socially constructed social roles, how do vested political interests in these constructions affect the duties one has to oneself? Could (say) a woman whose practical identity incorporates misogynistic norms have a self-regarding duty to alter that identity? Or might that identity be a source/ground of self-regarding duties? 
  • One popular candidate for a duty to oneself is the duty to pursue self-knowledge. What is the social or political import of such a duty? For instance, do we have duties to ourselves to know our sexual orientations or our racial or ethnic backgrounds? Do racists or misogynists have duties to learn that they are racist or misogynist? 
  • How are self-directed duties and civic virtue connected, if at all? Can commonly recognized civic responsibilities – to vote, pay taxes, resist one’s own oppression or that of others – be justified by reference to duties to ourselves? 
  • To what extent are political concepts applicable to our relationship to ourselves? Is it possible for us to treat ourselves unequally or unjustly, for instance?
  • How might duties to oneself affect others’ authority over us? If (say) there are duties to ourselves to preserve or maintain our bodies, does this impact what health-care professionals may permissibly do to extend our lives or improve our health? May the state use coercion or compulsion so as to ensure we fulfill our self-regarding duties? Is the state required to shoulder the costs of our fulfilling any of our self-directed duties (e.g. duties to develop our talents)? 

Our workshop will consist of up to fifteen talks, to be delivered in person. In exceptional circumstances, we may accommodate online participation. The speakers will be partly invited and partly selected by a Call for Abstracts. As part of the MANCEPT Conference, there are the following attendance fees: 

On line attendance / In Person

Academics: £ 45.00 / £ 230.00

Postgraduate Student: £ 20.00 / £ 135.00

Non-speaker: £ 15.00 / Dinner: £ 30

We especially encourage applications by women and members of other underrepresented groups. 

Confirmed Invited Speakers:

  •  Monika Betzler (LMU Munich)*
  •  Michael Cholbi (University of Edinburgh)
  •  Pablo Hubacher Haerle (University of Cambridge)
  •  Yuliya Kanygina (University of Gothenburg)*
  •  Daniel Muñoz (UNC Chapel Hill)*
  •  Janis Schaab (University of Groningen)
  •  Ashwini Vasanthakumar (Queen's Law School Ontario)*

(* Talk most likely delivered online)

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