3rd Global Conference: Sins, Vices and Virtues (July 2014: Oxford, United Kingdom)

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Rob Fisher/ Inter-Disciplinary.Net

3rd Global Conference: Sins, Vices and Virtues

Friday 25th July – Sunday 27th July 2014
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Presentations

'Our faith comes in moments; our vice is habitual'
(Emerson, The Over-Soul)

Sociologists might have hailed the contemporary Western world as thoroughly secularised, but the religious language of sins, vices and virtues is still present in the modern era. For example, in one of the 2012 episodes of Extreme Couponing (TLC), a minister compared unnecessary expenditure to a sin, and taught the Gospel of Jesus through her couponing policy. Weight Loss groups still warn about committing 'diet sins' which hinder the process of achieving bodily and, through this, mental perfection. When analysing the history of American politics and morality policy, K. Meier, in Politics of Sin, discussed drug and alcohol consumption and referred to 'sin taxes' on these addictive substances. Contemporary discourse on the 'addiction genes' in general seems to repeat Horace Walpole's often quoted idea that "the sins of fathers are visited on their children" (The Castle of Otranto), and therefore some individuals are more predisposed to alcoholism and drug abuse. Virtues are likewise debated in areas as diverse as ecology and economy. Environmentalists see virtue in responsible living, preaching reverence for the Earth for the sake of future generations and writing in the context of the global economic crisis, Richard Koch has recently termed optimism virtuous and called for regular practise of this 'pleasant duty' in these troubled times (The Huffington Post). Jake Breeden, the author of Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Bad Work Habits that Masquerade as Virtues, contributed to the latest research on how the modern (wo)man takes virtues too far and changes them into destructive vices, all of this being not only due to individual character traits but also the result and price of joining the contemporary career rat race.

As such, the discourse on sins, vices and virtues has remained part and parcel of discussion on living in the modern era, even though institutionalised religion and religious practice progressively loses its appeal. Naturally, not every culture recognises the notion of sin but all of them recognise the idea of a religious, spiritual and cultural transgression, and one can find non-Christian equivalents of the abuses of religious and spiritual language. The questions that arise, then, is whether the notions of sins, vices and virtue are changing their meaning in the commercially-driven, 'dog-eat-dog' and multicultural modern world, and whether to be 'good' or 'bad means the same for all cultures. What are the real changes between medieval and today's religious/moral doctrines preached across the modern world and its diverse cultural make-up? What about non-Christian cultures with different categories of religious/spiritual transgressions? May one actually still talk about 'sin' at all or is it an obsolete word in a multicultural world?

This interdisciplinary conference seeks a new, provocative, intercultural perspective on virtues and vices, sins and transgressions. Do we need a new list of moral commandments in the globalised, multicultural 21st century? Should they be religious or secular in nature? Who should they be aimed at? And, finally, is it possible, reaching back to the origins of humanity, to find common denominators between religious/spiritual definitions of vices and virtues of all belief systems?

We are inviting scholars, theologians, anthropologists, artists, teachers, psychologists, therapists, philosophers, teachers of ethics, etc. to present papers, reports, works of art, work-in-progress, workshops and pre-formed panels on issues related but not limited to the following themes:

Twenty-first century and sins, vices and virtues:
- New sins, vices and virtues in the modern, multicultural world
- Modern versions of old sins and vices: Individual and social; religious and secular; intercultural
- Sins of the Church and the clergy (i.e. paedophilia)
- New lexicon of sinfulness/transgression and virtuousness in Christian and non-Christian cultures (for
instance '-isms' in religious, political, social, cultural, medical discourse)
- Appropriation and abuse of the religious language (dieting, politics, environmental issues, addiction)
- Psychology of sin ('sinful' or 'abnormal'?; the concept of sin after Darwin, Nietzsche and Freud)
- Sinless, non-transgressive life in 21st century: Possibility or wishful thinking?
- Fear of the confessional or 'McDonald-isation' of spiritual life; is confession needed at all?
- Sins/Vices and/in the Media (ie adveritising)
- Theologies and Nature: Environmental studies and the notions of 'sin', transgression and virtue
- Ideology of sin/religious transgression and technological progress: G/god or the Machine; 'sins' of productive necessity
- The notions of 'sins', vices and virtues on the political arena (secular morality or no morality)
- Re-defining religions and their fundamental concepts
- Medieval crusades and/versus modern (holy) wars
- Modern discourse on morality, transgression, sin, vice and virtue in art and popular culture

Nature of sins, vices and virtues
- The genealogy of the idea of sin or religious transgression around the world and across all cultures
- Anthropology of transgression across cultures
- Religion as a social phenomenon
-Sinful/Transgressive actions, evil thoughts, religious taboos in Christian and non-Christian cultures
- What are the pre-Islam Arabic ideas of sin? How do these influence Islamic thought and how do they shape or not shape fundamentalist Islamic political thought?
- Social 'sins': 'Institutional' and 'structural'; their social ramifications
- Communal versus individual sins/transgressions: Do societies sin? How are individuals and societies policed?
- The concept of sin or spiritual transgression/deviation and philosophy
- Emotions and moral decision-making
- Genderisation of sins, vices and virtues in Christian and non-Christian cultures
- Public and penitential practices across the ages and cultures
- Punishment for sin/transgression and rewarding virtue across the ages and cultures: individual and collective
- Visions of Hell, Paradise and other Afterlife Realms across cultures
Representation of sins and sinners, vices, transgressions and virtues in art, literature, movies in Christian and non-Christian cultures

In order to support and encourage interdisciplinarity engagement, it is our intention to create the possibility of starting dialogues between the parallel events running during this conference. Delegates are welcome to attend up to two sessions in each of the concurrent conferences. We also propose to produce cross-over sessions between these groups – and we welcome proposals which deal with the relationship between Monsters and the Monstrous and Sins, Vices and Virtues.

What to Send
Proposals will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word proposals should be submitted by Friday 7th March 2014. If a proposal is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper of no more than 3000 words should be submitted by Friday 16th May 2014. Proposals should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: Vices&Virtues3 Proposal Submission

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs
Katarzyna Bronk: kmb@inter-disciplinary.net
Rob Fisher: sins3@inter-disciplinary.net

The aim of the conference is to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting.All proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.

For further details of the conference, please visit:

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.