Pragmatism, Wittgenstein, and the Virtues

Pragmatism, Wittgenstein, and the Virtues: Three Heterodox Approaches to Ethics

14-5 September 2015, School of Philosophy, University College Dublin


The conference explores the historical and theoretical dialogues between pragmatist ethics, Wittgensteinian moral philosophy, and virtue ethics. Charting different philosophical programs, these three heterodox approaches to ethics offer metaphilosophical alternatives to both the disengaged project of meta-ethics and to the prescriptive project of normative ethics. As against the meta-ethical aspect of moral theory, they question the independence of second-order ethical analysis from first order moral inquiry, while contrary to the prescriptive aspect they recommend a descriptive investigation of moral normativity. The conference surveys the convergences and divergences of these traditions as they have shaped the course of the twentieth (and now twenty-first) century debates about the goals, methods, and limits of moral philosophy.

The event is sponsored by the Irish Research Council New Foundations scheme and the American Voice in Philosophy research project.


The event is free but places are limited. Please write This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book your seat.




86 Newman House, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2


Monday, 14

9.30-10.00 Sarin Marchetti (University College Dublin), Welcome and Introduction

Sarin Marchetti (University College Dublin), chair

10.00-11.00 Sandra Laugier (Paris 1, Sorbonne), Wittgenstein and Pragmatism as Resources for Heterodox Ethics

11.00-12.00 David Bakhurst (Queen’s University at Kingston), Practice, Sensibility and Moral Education

12.00-1.30 lunch

John Baker (University College Dublin), chair

1.30-2.30 Nora Hämäläinen (Helsinki), Dewey, Wittgenstein and the Descriptive Project of Moral Philosophy

2.30-3.30 Roberto Frega, From the Virtues of the Republic to the Ethos of Democracy: Virtues and Habits in Contemporary Democratic Theory

3.30-4.00 Coffee break

Chris Cowley (University College Dublin), chair

4.00-5.00 Sophie-Grace Chappell (Open University), What Kind of Moral Philosophy is Wittgensteinian?


Tuesday, 15

Maeve Cooke (University College Dublin), chair

10.00-11.00 Piergiorgio Donatelli (Sapienza Università di Roma), Self-Transformation and the Virtues

11.00-12.00 Matteo Falomi (Essex), On Knowing When Light Has Dawned: A Perfectionist Critique of McDowell's Conception of Initiation

12.00-1:30 lunch

James Matharu (Oxford), chair

1.30-2.00 Anna Bergqvist (Manchester Metropolitan University), Thick Concepts, Particularism, and Meaning

2.00-2.30 Fergal McHugh (University College Dublin), Difficulty, Philosophy, and Value in Wittgenstein

2.30-3.00 Luc Seurin (Paris 1, Sorbonne), Charles in the Sky with Diamond: Ethical Life according to Charles Peirce and Cora Diamond

3.00-3.30 Áine Mahon (University College Dublin), Moral Education and Literature: On Cora Diamond and Eimear McBride

3.30-4.00 coffee break

John McGuire (University College Dublin), chair

4.00-5.00 Alice Crary (New School for Social Research), Wittgenstein and Coetzee on Ethics and Religion: A Reading of The Childhood of Jesus



5:30-7.00 Book Launch: Ethics and Philosophical Critique in William James (by S. Marchetti). An informal reception will follow.







The American Voice in Philosophy project is supported by:

  • The IRCHSS (“New Ideas” Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences)
  • UCD School of Philosophy
  • The International Journal of Philosophical Studies
  • UCD Clinton Institute for American Studies.
  • Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy
  • UCD Seed Funding

Principal Investigators

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