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Gothenburg Responsibility Conference 2016

Gothenburg, August 24-27 2016

Venue: The Main University Building, Vasaparken, rooms: Torgny Segerstedtsalen (TS) & Gula Salongen (GS) (24th to 26th) and room: T302 at the Department for Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, Olof Wijksgatan 6 (27th)

Open for outside participants; contact Andreas Ott if you are interested.

Keynote Speakers:

Helen Beebee (University of Manchester)

Michael McKenna (University of Arizona)

Shaun Nichols (University of Arizona)

Derk Pereboom (Cornell University)

Helen Steward (University of Leeds)

Kadri Vihvelin (University of Southern California)


Wednesday August 24th

09:15-09:25 Welcome and introduction: Paul Russell (TS)

09:30-10:55 Keynote lecture:
TS Helen Steward - "What is Determinism: Why We Should Ditch the Entailment Definition?" (Chair: Paul Russell)

TS August (Amanda) Gorman (University of Southern California) - "You don't seem like your deep self lately" (Chair: Bengt Brülde)
GS Daphne Brandenburg (Radboud University) - "The Nurturing Stance" (Chair: Joe Campbell)

12:05-14:00 Lunch

TS Robert H. Wallace (University of Arizona) - "Freedom and Resentment and Persons" (Chair: Per Milam)
GS Mattias Gunnemyr (Lund University) - "Participation as the Basis of Responsibility" (Chair: Tian Jie)

TS Lubomira Radoilska (University of Kent) - "Responsible Agency and Weakness of Will" (Chair: Saul Smilansky)
GS Janis David Schaab (University of St. Andrews) - "Commitment and the Second-Person Standpoint" (Chair: Bob Lockie)

16:05-16:30 Coffee break

16:30-17:55 Keynote lecture:
TS Derk Pereboom - "Incapacitation, Reintegration, and Limited General Deterrence" (Chair: Ingmar Persson)

Thursday August 25th

09:00-10:25 Keynote lecture:
TS Helen Beebee - "Leeway and Sourcehood" (Chair: Susanna Radovic)

TS Daniele Bruno (Humboldt University, Berlin) - "Must We Worry about Epistemic Shirkers?" (Chair: Sofia Jeppsson)
GS David Beglin (University of California, Riverside) - "The Nature of Blame and Reasons for Forgiveness" (Chair: Joe Campbell)

TS Philip Robichaud (Delft University of Technology) - "The Threat of Choice Architecture to Moral Responsibility" (Chair: Tian Jie)
GS George Tsai (University of Hawai’i, Manoa) - "Respect and Blame's Efficacy" (Chair: Tamler Sommers)

12:45-14:00 Lunch

TS Sofia Bonicalzi (University College London) - "Identification and Rationality: Looking for a Middle Path Between..." (Chair: Annemari Bijloos)
GS Sean Clancy (Syracuse University) - "Psychopathy, Responsibility, and Normative Explanation" (Chair: Kristin Mickelson)

TS Oisín Deery (Florida State University) - "Moral Responsibility, Situationism, and Implicit Bias" (Chair: Shaun Nichols)
GS Randolph Clarke (Florida State University) - "Moral Responsibility, Guilt, and Retributivism" (Chair: Derk Pereboom)

16:05-16:30 Coffee break

16:30-17:55 Keynote lecture:
TS Kadri Vihvelin - "Blame and Responsibility" (Chair: Christian Munthe)

Friday August 26th

09:00-10:25 Keynote lecture:
TS Michael McKenna - "Basic Desert, Blame and Free Will" (Chair: András Szigeti)

TS Santiago Amaya (Universidad de los Andes) - "Out of Habit" (Chair: Ben Matheson)
GS Matthew Talbert (West Virginia University) - "Doing what you think is right" (Chair: Dave Shoemaker)

TS Roman Altshuler (Kutztown University) - "Ownership, Agency, and Diachronic Choice" (Chair: Björn Petersson)
GS Saba Bazargan-Forward (University of California, San Diego) - "Responsibility and Intervening Agency" (Chair: Dan Haas)

12:45-13:45 Lunch

TS George Stamets (University of Leeds) - "Free Choice, Control, and Acting for a Reason" (Chair: Helen Steward)
GS Laura Gillespie (University of California, Los Angeles) - "Between Friends" (Chair: Kadri Vihvelin)

TS Kristin Mickelson (University of Minnesota, Morris) - "The End of Incompatibilism" (Chair: Michael McKenna)
GS Anneli Jefferson (University of Birmingham) - "Don't Look Back in Anger" (Chair: Christopher Bennett)

15:50-16:05 Coffee break

16:05-17:30 Keynote lecture:
TS Shaun Nichols - "Blame under Uncertainty" (Chair: Gunnar Björnsson)

18.30-21:30 Conference Boat Trip/Dinner

Saturday August 27th

10:00-13:00 Author-meets-critics session
Book: Responsibility from the Margins
Author: David Shoemaker
Critics: Christopher D. Bennett, Saul Smilansky and Tamler Sommers
Chair: Paul Russell

10:00-10:20 David Shoemaker: Introduction

10:20-10:40 Critic no. 1: Christopher D. Bennett

10:40-11:00 Critic no. 2: Saul Smilansky

11:00-11:20 Critic no. 3: Tamler Sommers: Is David Shoemaker Really a Strawsonian?

11:20-11:40 Coffee break

11:40-12:00 David Shoemaker responds

12:00-12:20 Critics reply

12:20-13:00 General discussion

13:15 Lunch


Helen Steward: What is Determinism: Why We Should Ditch the Entailment Definition?

J.L. Austin once famously claimed that determinism was "a name of nothing clear" ('Ifs and Cans', Philosophical Papers, p.231). But today many philosophers working on the free will problem operate happily with a definition of determinism that is pretty well accepted on all hands. I call it the ‘entailment definition’ and it states, roughly, that determinism is the thesis that for any given time, a complete statement of the nonrelational facts about that time, together with a complete statement of the laws of nature, entails every truth as to what happens after that time. In this paper, I argue that acceptance of the entailment definition has been a mistake – and make some suggestions about what ought to be put in its place.


Derk Pereboom: Incapacitation, Reintegration, and Limited General Deterrence

Here I defend a non-retributive model for treatment of criminals that incorporates the quarantine analogy for preventative detention, provisions for reintegration of criminal into society, together with forms of general deterrence that are consistent with the right to a life in which a person’s potential for flourishing is not compromised in the long term. I defend past versions of the view against objections, and develop in more detail the limited conception of general deterrence.


Helen Beebee: Leeway and Sourcehood

In recent years, incompatibilists have increasingly backed away from thinking of the ability to do otherwise as the requirement on acting freely that justifies incompatibilism. Correspondingly, source incompatibilism, according to which it is lack of causal determination rather than the existence of alternative possibilities (APs) that imposes the requirement of indeterminism on acting freely. The perceived failure of viable responses to Frankfurt that justify some kind of AP requirement on acting freely has been largely responsible for this shift amongst incompatibilists. I argue that this is a mistake: there are viable incompatibilist responses to Frankfurt available that preserve the idea that APs are central to acting freely.


Kadri Vihvelin: Blame and Responsibility

More than fifty years ago Peter Strawson argued that it is a mistake to think that moral responsibility and determinism are incompatible. After all, Strawson argued, you might think that someone's behavior was determined and still have a "reactive attitude" towards them. You could still blame them and to blame someone is to hold them morally responsible. If Strawson were right, we could understand the nature of moral responsibility by better understanding the nature of blame. Thus accounts of blame came to be widely regarded as a central problem for moral philosophy. I review several proposed analyses and show that none of them succeed in capturing the complicated moral and psychological facts about real life blaming. In one way or another, the analyses go wrong because they want it to come out that blaming others is the same thing as holding them morally responsible. But that is a mistake. Blaming and holding morally responsible are different things. You can blame without holding morally responsible and vice versa. By conflating the two, Strawson led two generations of philosophers astray.

Michael McKenna: Basic Desert, Blame and Free Will

A familiar claim in the free will debate is that the freedom in dispute between compatibilists and incompatibilists is the type required for an agent to deserve blame for moral wrongdoing. More precisely, it is the type required for an agent to deserve blame in a basic sense of desert. In this sense, the ground for a claim of desert does not flow from some more fundamental normative considerations, such as those pertaining to consequentialist or contractualist principles; the claim of deserved blame is normatively basic. In other recent work, Conversation and Responsibility (2012), I articulated a conception of blame. Drawing upon that conception, I argued for a basic desert thesis for blameworthiness. In what follows, I shall build upon my earlier work by responding to a criticism of it. I advance a basic desert thesis for blame by reference to a distinctive sort of noninstrumental good—one that involves harming a blameworthy wrongdoer. Nevertheless, the noninstrumental good upon which I rely is not an intrinsic good; it’s an extrinsic one. There is a worry that the good I identify is really a variety of a consequentialist good, and so is, despite my contention, not merely an extrinsic but also an instrumentalist good that depends upon some more basic normative considerations. If so, my account fails as one promising a basic desert thesis. In this paper, I respond to this challenge. Finally, I shall consider whether the free will debate is as intimately tied to the notion of basic desert as many seem to suppose. I do not think it is. While my proposal for a basic desert thesis for blame is available to those working on the free will problem, as I see it, the relevance of what is at stake regarding the freedom of the will survives even if no basic desert thesis does. There are other candidate normative grounds for the aptness of blame, such as fairness, that might credibly give rise to traditional philosophical worries about free will.


Shaun Nichols: Blame under Uncertainty

Should we hold people morally responsible when they have brain damage (construed broadly to include a wide range of neuro-atypical conditions like dementia, psychopathy, and autism)? It is often quite unclear whether such individuals really are morally responsible. In considering such cases, philosophers focus on the risk of wrongly holding responsible a person with brain damage. But when we are uncertain about whether an agent is morally responsible, there is another risk that is largely ignored – the risk of wrongly exempting a person from responsibility. Wrongful exemption is costly, and I argue that in making the decision about the right thing to do in cases of uncertainty, we must factor this in as a salient risk factor. The result, I suggest, will often favor that we risk wrongly holding responsible rather than risk wrongly exempting.


Find abstracts to all other speakers here.

Practical information


Keynote speakers are staying at the Elite Park Avenue Hotel in Gothenburg located at 36-38 Kungsportsavenyn. You can reach the hotel from the airport by taxi or by bus. If you prefer the latter option, find Flygbussarna ("airport coaches") at Landvetter Airport. Get off at "Berzeliigatan". It is a short walk to the hotel from that stop (see map below).

Most of the other participants are staying at Hotel Lorensberg. The hotel is located at 15 Berzeliigatan. You can reach the hotel from the airport by taxi or by bus. If you prefer the latter option, find Flygbussarna ("airport coaches") at Landvetter Airport. Get off at "Berzeliigatan" or "Korsvägen". It is a short walk to the hotel from those stops (see map).


24th-26th August: Main University Building, located in Vasaparken (see map). The keynote lectures will take place in the room called "Torgny Segerstedtsalen". The parallel sessions will take place in "Torgny Segerstedtsalen" and "Gula Salongen".

27th August: Room T302 at the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science (see map, address: 6 Olof Wijksgatan).


Projectors and a laptop will be available in all conference lecture rooms. Please contact andreas.ott@gu.se if you have technical questions. If possible, bring your own handouts or mail them to us well in advance. We can of course help with last minute requests.

Please note that some of the keynote lectures and the author-meets-critics session will be filmed and streamed live as well.


Lunch will be provided at the conference venue (except for the 27th August) for all keynotes speakers, chairs and speakers at the parallel sessions. On 27th August, we will have lunch at Café Meza Mix (see map).


The conference dinner will be held on Friday, 26th August. Dinner will be served onboard M/S St:Erik which departs at 6.30pm from Lilla Bommen (see map). The boat trip will take about 3 hours. All keynote speakers, chairs and speakers at the parallel sessions are invited to join us for the cruise. However, due to limited availability we will not be able to take additional numbers for the boat trip.


Wifi information will be made available at the conference venue.


For organisational and technical matters, please contact andreas.ott@gu.se. For matters regarding conference papers, schedule, etc. please write to per-erik.milam@gu.se or benjamin.matheson@gu.se or sofia.jeppsson@gu.se.


Map over Central parts of Gothenburg with Notes

1. Main University Building
2. Dept. of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
3. Elite Park Avenue Hotel
4. Hotel Lorensberg
5. Bus stop: Berzeliigatan
6. Bus stop: Korsvägen
7. Lilla Bommen - where the boat will depart
8. Café Meza Mix

Page Manager: Andreas Ott|Last update: 9/23/2016

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