Programme and abstracts for Manchester (Workshop II)

Wednesday 22nd March 2017

All welcome (academics, students, interested others). But to help with catering, to be sure about room size, and in case of timings or venue changes, etc., please let us know by end of Wed March 15.)

10h30 – 11h00
Coffee and orientation

11h00 – 12h30
Sam Clark, Lancaster University: ‘Three Relations between Roles and the Good’

[Abstract below]

12h30 – 13h30
Lunch, provided

13h30 – 15h00
FAMILY ROLES (discussion session)
Lindsey Porter (session lead), Reid Blackman (by videolink from Colgate College, NY)

[Description below]

15h00 – 15h30
Short break, tea/coffee available

15h30 – 17h00
Alex Barber, Open University: ‘Wellbeing in the context of collective achievement’

[Abstract below]

17h00: Workshop ends; taxis, etc.

ABSTRACTS (in order of presentation)

Sam Clark, Lancaster University ‘Three Relations between Roles and the Good’
What is the relation between roles and the human good? That is, between our collective construction, maintenance, and enaction of institutions and their places, on one hand; and the life which goes well for the person whose life it is (AKA well-being, flourishing, utility, the good life), on the other? I use selected martial autobiographies to explore three possibilities. (1) Tools for self-shaping: roles are social technology for shaping ourselves towards voluntarily-adopted conceptions of the good life independent of those roles. (2) Good-making practices: roles are parts of collective practices which create and sustain the good for those within them. (3) Self-discovery: roles are a method for gaining self-knowledge. They help each of us to discover her unchosen, seedlike, initially opaque self, and thereby to discover her particular good, which is that self’s realization. I use experiences of joyful recognition and resistance to the role of soldier, as recorded in my exemplary autobiographies, to argue for (3).

FAMILY ROLES panel session: Lindsey Porter (session lead), Reid Blackman (by videolink from Colgate College, NY)
Our goal here will be to see what we can or cannot learn about roles in general by thinking about familial roles in particular, where many of the issues that arise across the board when thinking about roles crop up in close proximity. E.g. origins of parental duty, adoptive vs biological parents, apparent indeterminacy of role specification, filial vs parental duties, social variance in familial norms, partiality, just and unjust roles, etc.

Alex Barber, Open University ‘Well-being in the context of collective achievement’
A little-noticed tension exists between two features of wellbeing:

1. Wellbeing is meant to be an individualistic notion
2. Wellbeing is deeply connected to achievement

While 1 is arguably definitional, 2 is a thesis that is plausible across many perspectives on wellbeing. The tension arises from a third and hard-to-deny fact about agency:

3. Achievement is as often collective as it is individual

This tension raises several questions. Is the notion of wellbeing incoherent? Should we extend the notion of wellbeing so that, in the context of collective achievement, it makes sense to talk of the wellbeing of the collective in a sense that is not simply an aggregate of the wellbeing of its members? And how (if at all) does achievement-based wellbeing distribute across the individuals in the collective? This talk, in effect, seeks to fuse the literature on wellbeing (which says precious little about collective agency) and the literature on collective agency (which focuses on attributions of responsibility rather than wellbeing) to develop a coherent stance on the tension between 1, 2 and 3. Core to this attempt will be an understanding of the wellbeing associated with role performance.