Virtues and the Flourishing Life
Oriel College, Oxford, January 3–5, 2020
The eighth annual conference of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham
Most of the recent burgeoning interest in the virtues, within philosophy and the social sciences, has been on the role of the virtues in good character and how to cultivate it. However, what is sometimes overlooked is that, historically (for example within Aristotelian approaches), the virtues are seen to be part and parcel of the flourishing life. Flourishing is a wider concept that simply that of good character, and in many ways more complex, politically charged and multi-layered. Terminological disputes abound, for instance, about the relationship between the concepts of ‘well-being’, ‘happiness’ and ‘flourishing’. Even for those who adopt the Aristotelian position of understanding flourishing (eudaimonia) as objective well-being, various theoretical and practical quandaries remain.
The main aim of this conference is to explore some of those quandaries and ask what it really means to live a flourishing life as a professional, student or just as an ordinary human being. What role (instrumental or non-instrumental) do the virtues play in such a life? Is it perhaps possible to lead a decent flourishing life without actualising the virtues, for example by just remaining well self-controlled or ‘continent’ in the Aristotelian sense? What would a flourishing school look like, above and beyond a school that cultivates good character in students? Does the concept of a ‘flourishing professional’ mean anything other than just being a ‘virtuous professional’? What are the socio-political conditions that need to be satisfied for someone to flourish? Finally, there is the question of whether flourishing is too bland or bloated a term to serve any useful purpose in academic or practical discourse. Cannot anyone just populate the term with any variables they happen to like? The aim of the 2020 Jubilee Centre annual conference is to bring together experts from a range of disciplines to explore those questions and many more. Can theorists from philosophy, education, sociology, theology, history and psychology learn from each other’s work? How can insights from theory and practice be integrated?
We hereby send out an open call for presentations falling under the broad theme of the conference. While our focus this time is on issues regarding the flourishing life, we will also look favourably upon proposals that explore other character-related issues from an educational, social scientific, philosophical, religious or practice-oriented perspective. There will be parallel sessions devoted to general topics in the area of character, virtue and character education. We particularly welcome proposals from teachers and other practitioners.
We ask interested parties to send us an abstract of about 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org (marked ORIEL PROPOSAL in the subject line) before July 1, 2019. We will send out notifications of acceptance before the end of July. The conference fee is £200 and covers full board at Oriel College (2 nights), including the formal conference dinner. Details of how to pay the registration fee will be provided in due course.