Conference: "Theorizing Human Nature: Bridge, Barrier, or Both?"

Location: University of Notre Dame

The Fourth Annual Joint Graduate Student Conference by the University of Notre Dame and University of Chicago will take place at the the Notre Dame Conference Center (McKenna Hall) on February 25-27, 2018.

Keynote speakers will include Severine Deneulin from University of Bath, Vincent Lloyd from Villanova University, Cristina Traina from Northwestern University, and Thomas Tweed from University of Notre Dame.

What is the place of human nature in academic and public discourse? Some contemporary thinkers have begun to reconsider whether the concept of human nature might establish common ethical ground between religious, cultural, and philosophical traditions. Scholars who attempt such a retrieval of human nature distinguish their work from late-modern theories by employing sociological, scientific, feminist, and postcolonial resources that were unavailable to or ignored by earlier theorists. Despite these distinctive attempts to recover a more capacious and sensitive conception of human nature, many, even among those who think human nature is a necessary concept, view appeals to it as inherently problematic. This conference aims to foster a multidisciplinary and critical engagement with contemporary appeals to human nature in ethical debates, with special attention to appeals to nature in public discourse.

We invite papers that address the question of human nature in both theoretical and applied areas: What is the relevance of biological nature for understanding human nature? Which elements of human nature, if any, are fixed; which are constructs? Of what use are appeals to a common human nature in problems of immigration, in preserving the contemporary framework of human rights, and in addressing the contemporary environmental crises that have collectively led to a proposal to call the current geologic age of the Earth the Anthropocene? The topic of human nature lends itself to consideration from a wide variety of disciplines. We welcome proposals from any relevant discipline, including but not limited to: religious studies, theology, philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, and biology.

Contact for more information or to participate.

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