CFP: Workshop: Non-Human Agency and the Standard Story of Action

Submission deadline: June 29, 2022

Conference date(s):
September 16, 2022 - September 17, 2022

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Conference Venue:

Department of Philosophy, King's College London
London, United Kingdom

Topic areas


Call for Abstracts

Workshop: Non-Human Agency and the Standard Story of Action

Date and Venue: 

16-17 September 2022

King’s College London, UK

Keynote Speakers:

Prof Hans-Johann Glock (Department of Philosophy, University of Zürich)

Prof Anton Ford (Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago)

Many philosophers endorse the ‘standard story’ of the nature of action, which explains action as bodily motion caused ‘in the right way’ by mental states, such as intentions and reasons, that are part of the sophisticated psychological life of adult human beings. This story has been challenged from various perspectives. One such challenge concerns the nature of reasons: are they mental states or facts? Another concerns the problem of deviant causation: can a non-circular analysis of ‘the right way’ for reasons to cause bodily movements be given? Yet another concerns the problem of ‘disappearing agents’: if the agent’s actions are caused by her reasons, is there any causal role left for the agent herself? 

In this two-day workshop, we hope to explore a potential challenge which so far has received little attention, namely the existence of agency in the natural world beyond human agency. We often refer to things other than humans as ‘agents’, including other animals, plants, and inanimate objects. But if these beings lack our sophisticated psychological life, how, if at all, can the standard story account for their agency? Should we deny their status as agents, revise the standard story, or discard it altogether?

We invite submissions that explore this debate from any perspective. We have four speaking slots available, with two reserved for graduate students. Please send an anonymised long abstract (c. 1000 words) to [email protected] by 29th June 2022 (please note extended deadline). Please also include the following information in a separate document:

  • Name

  • Email

  • Institution, department and position

  • Title of paper

Decisions will be communicated by 8th July.

The workshop will be pre-read and in person. We will require final papers for circulation to other participants two weeks prior to the event.

We especially encourage submissions from those who identify as part of a group underrepresented in the discipline.

We are able to offer two bursaries of up to £300 each for graduate student speakers to subsidise travel and accommodation. A conference dinner for all speakers will be held on the first day.

For any inquiries about the event, please contact the organisers: 

Dan Elbro - [email protected]

Chengying Guan - [email protected]

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