CFP: Conference on Metaphysics and Ethics, East and West


Metaphysical Society of America, 64th Annual Meeting

The College of the Holy Cross, April 12-13, 2013

Topic: Metaphysics and Ethics, East and West 

Please see below for information on deadlines and on the Aristotle Prize

What is the relationship between metaphysics and ethics? Metaphysics is concerned with being qua being or the first principles and causes of being, or the primary sense or senses of reality, or its fundamental categories. Ethics is concerned with the goodness of persons, or the rightness of actions, or the best value in consequences. Hence metaphysics and ethics may seem to be unrelated. Is it possible, however, to ask about being without asking about the goodness of being? Is it possible to define human goodness and rightness without first defining human being or human value? Might being, itself, provide a measure of the goodness of actions and persons? Is there a state of being the attainment of which makes persons to be good or actions to be right? Moreover, is this state of being prescribed by the nature of human beings? Is this prescription provided by some being that is both prior to and the cause of human beings?

Whether metaphysics and ethics are related is a topic that invites reflection on the normativity or neutrality of being. How one answers the prior metaphysical questions will inevitably affect one’s views of ethics. Both Asian and Western philosophical traditions exhibit both the normativist and the neutralist alternatives. Cross-cultural comparisons between Eastern and Western responses afford a wider set of variations and some strong examples of mutual corroboration.

Essays about the relation between metaphysics and ethics, and essays about broader metaphysical questions which have implications for this theme will be accorded first consideration, though papers and proposals for papers in other areas of metaphysics will also be considered. Submissions do not need to consider Asian traditions or offer comparative work, though those that do are especially welcome.

500-word abstracts should be submitted (electronically) by July 1, 2012 to: 

May Sim, Department of Philosophy, The College of the Holy Cross,

Those whose abstracts are chosen by the Program Committee must submit completed papers by December 31, 2012 to allow time for review by commentators and publication of the program. Further information on the conference will be available at:

ARISTOTLE PRIZE: Papers submitted by persons who have not yet earned a Ph.D. or whose Ph.D. is less than five years old at the time of submission will be considered for the Aristotle Prize if the Program Committee is alerted to eligibility. The prize carries a cash award of $500 and inclusion in the program. Please encourage graduate students and junior colleagues to consider entering the competition. Papers submitted for the Aristotle Prize must be complete by the deadline for submission: July 1, 2012.

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