Wisdom in the News

Virtues in the Digital World

The ninth annual conference of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham

Oriel College, Oxford, January 7th - 9th 2021

The call for papers is now open.

The idea of virtue has been prominent in intellectual thought for over 2,000 years, but will this prominence persist into the future? Given an era of unprecedented technological change, what will be the role of virtue for the remainder of this century and beyond? These are pressing questions, given that we do not know where robotics, artificial intelligence, the ‘Internet of Things’, bioengineered humans and the many other technological innovations on the horizon will take us. Academic interest in the relationship between emerging technologies and character and virtues had a slow start. This situation is now changing as philosophers, psychologists, sociologists and educationists are increasingly calling for a focus on virtue to counter some of the more pressing ethical challenges that emerging technologies are presenting for individuals and societies.

The main aim of this conference is to explore what will be the role of virtue in the future. Among the big questions that emerge here are: What are the characteristic virtues and vices of digital natives? Have social media altered friendships and human relationships more broadly? Are populism and demagoguery ineluctable facets of the digital age? What is the link between practical wisdom and artificial intelligence? Are digital technologies dehumanising society? Should we allow technology to take over moral decision-making and might this lead to a state of technological paternalism? How likely is it that a shared understanding of virtues will persist in future societies? How do we ensure that future technologies are designed to promote and enhance virtue? And, given these pressing questions, what is the role of educators to ensure that the ideals of good character and human flourishing are kept alive in the future?

The aim of the 2021 Jubilee Centre annual conference is to bring together experts from a range of disciplines to explore those questions and many more. Can theorists from philosophy, education, sociology, theology, history and psychology learn from each other’s work? How can insights from theory and practice be integrated?

We hereby send out an open call for presentations falling under the broad theme of the conference. While our focus this time is on issues regarding the virtues in the digital age, we will also look favourably upon proposals that explore other more general character-related issues from an educational, social scientific, philosophical, religious or practice-oriented perspective. There will be parallel sessions devoted to general topics in the area of character, virtue and character education. We particularly welcome proposals from teachers and other practitioners.

We ask interested parties to send us an abstract of about 500 words to jubileecentrepapers@contacts.bham.ac.uk (marked ORIEL PROPOSAL in the subject line) before July 1, 2020. We will send out notifications of acceptance before the end of July. The conference fee is £250 and covers full board at Oriel College (2 nights), including the formal conference dinner.

Read the call!