Character and Virtue in the Professions: An Interdisciplinary Conference

It is a pleasure to invite you to the International Conference ‘Character and Virtue in the Professions’. Working in the spirit of a neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics which takes virtuous character to be something that may be developed or enhanced by appropriate education or teaching, the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham has lately been researching various possible approaches to character education in a variety of human occupations and professions such as law, medicine, nursing, teaching, the military, and business. The conference seeks to bring the work of scholars from different disciplines – including psychology, sociology and theology as well as philosophy – to bear on issues of how best to educate moral character for the professions.

Most publicly significant professions, vocations and other human occupations in civil and civilized societies have more or less formal codes of conduct or ‘professional ethics’ designed to ensure good or just practice and to protect clients from bad or unjust practice. However, such codes seem insufficient to guarantee conformity to them of individual practitioners. From this viewpoint, many latter day professional failures or ‘scandals’ in such contexts of public concern as (for example) politics, law, medicine, social work, education and commerce would appear to have been attributable more to the personal weakness, irresolution, greed, self-serving and sometimes just plain folly of individual practitioners: in short, to failures of personal moral character. Thus, while institutions and agencies of professional education and training have recently and rightly sought to promote deeper appreciation of the principles of just professional engagement on the part of professional practitioners, it would seem that the no less urgent matter of helping them to acquire the moral qualities of integrity, courage, self-control, service, selflessness and so on for the robust pursuit of such just practice has received less attention.

We are pleased to announce that the following distinguished speakers have been invited to help identify and define some of the key issues and questions concerning character education in various professions:

  • Sarah Banks, Professor of Applied Social Sciences, University of Durham
  • Patrick Boleyn-Fitzgerald, Edward F. Meilke Professor of Ethics in Medicine, Lawrence University, USA
  • Ann Gallagher, Professor of Ethics and Care, University of Surrey
  • Geoffrey Moore, Professor of Business ethics, University of Durham
  • Justin Oakley, Professor in the Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, Australia
  • Nancy Sherman, Professor of Philosophy (including military ethics), Georgetown University, USA

We invite interested parties to submit abstracts of papers on some aspect of professional character and virtue. Abstracts must be no more than 250 words, in Word format, and sent to by 5pm on Monday 4th January 2016 with the email subject ‘Proposal for Character and Virtue in the Professions’. Please include full name, position, affiliation, and email in the abstract. This conference accepts papers in English only.

We will send out notifications of acceptance before the end of January 2016.

There is a conference registration fee of £150. The fee covers lunch, drinks and the conference dinner. A link to pay the registration fee will be circulated at the start of December.

Accommodation for the conference has been reserved at Lucas House, University of Birmingham. Details about Lucas House can be found here. Rooms have been reserved for 2 nights (2nd and 3rd June) and will be available through Lucas House on a first come first serve basis. Details of how to book will be circulated in due course. If you require accommodation for additional nights, these can be booked directly with Lucas House. Rooms will be around £65 per night per room bed and breakfast. Lucas House can be contacted on 0121 414 3344.

We would be grateful if you circulated this Call to your network of colleagues, whether or not you are intending on submitting an abstract. Please accept my apologies if you have already been invited to submit a paper for this conference or receive this email twice. If you have any questions or queries regarding the conference please send them to Dr Rosie Buggins,

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