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manipulation and moral responsibility in ethics and philosophy of religion; Edinburgh, July 15/16

I’m pleased to announce a conference this summer, July 15 and 16, 2016, in Edinburgh, Scotland, on topics relating to free will, moral responsibility, manipulation, and philosophy of religion. The conference brings together philosophers working on related themes: manipulation (and manipulation arguments) in debates about free will and moral responsibility, and issues regarding divine providence in philosophy of religion.

Confirmed speakers include:

Helen Beebee

Maria Alvarez

Gunnar Björnsson

Jean-Baptiste Guillon

Sofia Jeppsson

Alfred Mele

Patrick Todd

John Martin Fischer

Derk Pereboom

Travel funds available:

We have a limited amount of travel funding available for early career researchers (graduate students and those who received their PhD in 2010 or later) who might benefit from participation in the conference and chairing a session. If you wish to apply for such funding, please send an email (with subject line “request for travel funding”) to Patrick Todd (at pat.c.todd at with (a) a CV (b) 200 words explaining your interest in the topics of the conference and (c) a rough estimate of how much funding would be required in order to make your participation possible.

Funding can be used for travel to the conference and accommodation in Edinburgh. International applications are welcome.

The deadline for requests for travel funding is Monday, April 3. Decisions will be made by April 25.


There is a natural connection between manipulation arguments and philosophy of religion: on some traditional pictures of God, God’s providence seemingly amounts a manipulation scenario “writ large”. What kind of “manipulation” does undermine moral responsibility? And what kind of picture of divine providence really threatens human freedom?

Further, there has been a recent increase in interest in what we might call the positionality of blame – issues regarding, for instance, who has and lacks the moral standing to blame morally responsible wrongdoers. Under what conditions – if any – could a “manipulator” retain the “moral standing” to blame those she manipulates? Or under what conditions might God lack the standing to “hold” creatures responsible, even if those creatures are responsible


This conference is funded by the John Templeton Foundation, Eidyn at the University of Edinburgh, and the Scots Philosophical Association.

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