Call for Abstracts: What Makes a Philosopher Good or Bad?

Intellectual Virtues and Vices in the History of Philosophy

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On 25-26 November, a conference takes place titled 'What Makes a Philosopher Good or Bad? Intellectual Virtues and Vices in the History of Philosophy'. The committee is currently accepting abstract submissions; the deadline for submission is 21 August.

What makes a philosopher good or bad?

This conference raises two simple but provocative questions: What makes a philosopher good or bad? And how have views on what counts as a good or bad philosopher changed over time? These meta-philosophical questions offer an opportunity to introduce recent historical and philosophical research on intellectual virtues and vices into the study of the history of philosophy. This combination, in turn, provides a promising new way of bridging the gap between history, philosophy, history of philosophy, and historiography.

The conference is organized by Lukas M. Verburgt (Utrecht University/NIAS/Leiden University). The conference committee consists of Lukas M. Verburgt (Utrecht University/NIAS/Leiden University), James McAllister (Leiden University), Annemarije Hagen (University of Amsterdam), and Paul Ziche (Utrecht University).

Call for abstracts

The conference aims to get a better understanding of the fruitfulness and implications of introducing the notions of intellectual virtues and vices into the (study of the) history of philosophy. We invite papers on the following and other questions: 

- What are paradigmatic or otherwise interesting case-studies of (the role of) intellectual virtues and vices in the history of philosophy? For instance, what are examples of debates or controversies which, implicitly or explicitly, revolved around different views on what it means to be a (good or bad) philosopher.  

- Why have certain intellectual virtues and vices and some ways of being a (good or bad) philosopher gained in popularity, whereas others became redundant or deemed old-fashioned? 

- How have views on intellectual virtues and vies shaped the initial and posthumous reception of major and forgotten philosophers? Similarly, what role did changes in these views play in the creation of the canonical status (the 'greatness') of certain philosophers and the exclusion or marginalization of others?

- Can certain major schools and traditions in the history of philosophy be linked to specific intellectual virtues and vices? How was their rise or fall informed by changing views on what it means to be a (good or bad) philosopher? 

- Are there intellectual virtues or vices, and philosophical personae, that that may be said to transcend history? If so, what can these teach us about the nature of philosophy? If not, what does this say about the development of the discipline? 

- What are the main challenges and prospects of introducing intellectual virtues and vices into the historiography of philosophy? How, for instance, is it related to attempts to rethink and remake the canon? 

- How can a focus on intellectual virtues and vices connect the history of philosophy more closely to the history of science and the history of the humanities? Are there historical examples of cases where 'philosophical personae' were shaped around intellectual virtues and vices borrowed from the sciences or the humanities - or vice versa?

Please send a 200/250-word (anonymized) abstract, including title, to Lukas M. Verburgt before 21 August 2021. The author's name, institutional position and affilitation, as well as contact information, should be included in the body of the email. Notification of acceptance or rejection by 14 September 2021.