Risk, Dignity & Fragility: Searching for a New Ethics, 1st International Symposium (Angers, France: 29th - 31st of August, 2013)

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Alejandro Cervantes-Carson, General Coordinator, International Network for Alternative Academia

International Network for Alternative Academia - Extends a general invitation to participate

1st International Symposium: Risk, Dignity and Fragility: Searching for a New Ethics

Part of the Research Program on: Lost Virtues, Found Vices

Thursday 29th to Saturday 31st of August, 2013

Angers, Pays-de-la-Loire, France

Partner: Université Catholique de l'Ouest
Venue: IPLV, UCO (3 Place André Leroy)
Main Campus (Building: Bâtiment Scientifique)

Enquiries: acc@alternative-academia.net

Call for Papers

(Abstract Submission Period Opens: Monday 3rd of June, 2013)
(Abstract Deadline: Monday 15th of July, 2013)

This trans-disciplinary research project is interested in exploring the nature and structure of an ethics for the 21st century. Ethics has most often been founded on a concept of the self as an agent that is secure, self-confident, and in control and on a view of the world as stable, unchanging and thus as knowable and predictable. Yet contemporary culture shows us a very different view of ourselves and of our environment. Caught up in a world in constant change where borders and boundaries, conditions and contexts are constantly changing and uncertainty is the norm, we find ourselves insecure, vulnerable as forces beyond our control direct and frame the moral decisions that we face. How must ethics be reconceived in light of our shifting ideals of the self and the world? Can there be an ethics under the conditions of uncertainty, flux, and instability?

This project takes up these questions considering how a new ethics for the 21st century might be envisioned and how it might be practiced. Raising potent questions that engage in critical deliberations on alternative practices, pedagogies, performances, politics and processes it explores the development of new ethical frameworks grounded on the concepts of risk, responsibility and fragility.

We invite colleagues from all disciplines and professions interested in exploring and explaining these issues in a collective, deliberative and dialogical environment to send presentation proposals that address these general questions or the following themes:

1. Flux: A World in Motion

Traditionally, ethics has been grounded in a view of the world as something stable and solid – something known, knowable and thus predictable. However, scientific changes, technological advancements, social transformations, cultural shifts and political innovations have revealed the world to be in constant flux.

- How might we negotiate flux, change, fluidity, liquidity, and mutability as crucial dimensions of ethics?
- We increasingly live nomadic lives, transitioning cultural and political boundaries, finding ourselves members of transitory communities. Can an ethics be developed that allows for this mobility?
- How much flexibility can an ethics sustain? How much flexibility should it sustain?
- How do we explain the resistance to acknowledging the transitory nature of human existence?
- What new vocabularies must be developed in order to capture the flux that shapes the decisions we make and the lives we choose to live? What new discourses are emerging to capture this element of decision-making?
- Does the recognition of the flux of the world necessitate our adoption of some form of relativism? Why or why not?
- Are there trends and fashions in theory just as in clothing and décor?
- Can an ethics be sustained in a world that lacks stability?
- Are teleologies any longer conceivable in a world in which the consequences of our actions can never be known?

2. Reasonable Persons, Rational Minds

The development of an ethics seems to necessitate belief that agents and subjects are rational. Is such a belief well founded?

- Is rationality a necessary condition for the possibility of an ethics?
- Is the claim that individuals are rational well founded?
- What underlies and informs the need for ethics to deny irrational decision-making?
- What is the role of desire in considerations of what is good and bad, right and wrong?
- Does rational thought necessarily result in moral decision making? Does it result in just conclusions?
- What are the implications of the recognition that ethics is not founded on rational thought?
- Does acknowledgment of our irrationality negate the conditions for the possibility of deontologies?

3. Fragile Selves

The model of the self-sufficient, independent rational agent has framed our understanding of ethics and our practice of decision-making.

- Must ethics be grounded in a conception of the moral agent as ultimately self-sufficient?
- How might an ethics be developed premised on the concept of fragility?
- How might recognition rather than denial of our anxieties reconfigure our understanding of ethical choices?
- How would recognition of our vulnerabilities rather than our self-sufficiencies and mastery shift our understanding of ethical decision-making and of moral agency?

4. Interaction, Interdependence and Collaboration: Evolving A New Ethics

The independence of moral agents to make decisions and to suffer the consequences of their actions has been upended in contemporary culture.

- Is an ethics premised on individualism possible? Why or why not?
- How might the recognition of the inevitable intertwining of our desires, lives and projects change our conceptions of ethics? How might an ethics based on intersubjectivity be developed?
- What opportunities exist for revitalizing/re-envisioning community engagement?
- What challenges do we face regarding the development of an ethics as the intertwining of cultures and the meshing of values?
- How might we envision an ethics grounded on collaboration?
- What forces encourage and produce internal and external clashes and collisions at the intersections of value systems, beliefs, ideologies and political processes?

5. On (the) Edge: The Dynamics of Risk

As certainty and rationality give way, a new ethics that recognizes and embraces risk seems to be necessitated.

- Does risk negate the conditions for the possibility of ethics?
- How might our notions of risk be broadened beyond considerations of mere danger, threat and insecurity?
- How does recognition of the inevitability of risk change how we understand transgression, coercion, complicity and conversion?

6. The Language of Rights, The Institution of Law

We have witnessed the codification of ethics through the language of rights and the implementation of moral principles across diverse populations via the institution of law.

- What have we gained and what have we lost from the creation and expansion of the language of rights?
- What alternative discursive practices might be developed for ethics?
- What have we gained and what have we lost from the legalization of ethics?
- How might ethics be reconceived if rather than focusing on rights it focuses on responsibilities?
- How might a new ethics be developed grounded in the discourse of dignity?

7. An Era of Uncertainty

Ethics has been premised on a sense of certainty – certainty about the nature of subjectivity, certainty about the world and about our place in it. Yet the world we encounter is one in which uncertainty seems the norm.

- What role has certainty played in framing traditional ethical theories?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of adopting this attitude towards ourselves, others and the world in trying to determine how to act?
- Can there be an ethics without a sense of certainty? How would it be structured?
- What would be the relative strengths and weaknesses of grounding an ethics in uncertainty?

If you are interested in participating in this Annual Symposium, submit a 400 to 500 word abstract as soon as possible and no later than Monday, 15th of July, 2013. (For justifiable cases, we do uphold a tolerance period of a week.)

Please use the following template for your submission:
First: Author(s);
Second: Affiliation, if any;
Third: Email Address;
Fourth: Title of Abstract and Proposal;
Fifth: The 400 to 500 Word Abstract.

To submit an abstract online follow these steps:
1) Go to our webpage: www.alternative-academia.net
2) Select your Symposium of choice within the list of annual events (listed by period and city)
3) Go to LOG IN at the top of the page
4) Create a User Name and Password for our system and log in
5) Click on the Call for Papers for the Symposium
6) Go to the end of the Call for Papers page and click on the First Step of Submission Process button
7) Follow the instructions provided for completing the abstract submission process

For every abstract proposal submitted, we acknowledge receipt. If you do not receive a reply from us within three days, you should assume the submission process was not completed successfully. Please try again or contact our technical support for clarifications.

All presentation and paper proposals that address these questions and issues will be fully considered and evaluated. Evaluation of abstract submissions will be ongoing, from the opening date of Monday 3rd of June, 2013. All Prospective Delegates can expect a reply time to their submission of two weeks, maximum.

Accepted abstracts will require a full draft paper by Thursday 15th of August, 2013. Papers are for a 20 minute presentation, 8 to 10 pages long, double spaced, Times New Roman 12. All papers presented at the symposium are eligible for publication as part of a digital or paperback book.

We invite colleagues and people interested in participating to disseminate this call for papers. Thank you for sharing and cross-listing where and whenever appropriate.

Hope to meet you in Angers!

Symposium Coordinators:

Charlene Rajendran
Lecturer – Performance and Theatre Education
Visual and Performing Arts Academic Group
National Institute of Education
Nanyang Technological University
Email: charlene.r@nie.edu.sg

Wendy O'Brien
Professor of Social and Political Theory
School of Liberal Studies
Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Email: Wendy.OBrien@humber.ca

Alejandro Cervantes-Carson
General Coordinator
International Network for Alternative Academia
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Email: acc@alternative-academia.net