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Call for Abstracts – Workshop: Blame and Forgiveness at Work

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Call for Abstracts

Workshop: Blame and Forgiveness at Work
Deadline: October 15, 2023
Event Dates: April 12-13, 2024
Event Venue: Saint Mary’s College of California (Moraga, CA)
Invited Speakers: Vikram Bhargava (George Washington), Dana Kay Nelkin and Aaron Chipp-Miller (UC San Diego), Amy Sepinwall (Wharton, Penn)

Overview: Practices of blame and forgiveness are rife with moral risks: disproportionate, hypocritical, vicious, or counterproductive blame, and forgiving too soon, for the wrong reasons, or in ways that undermine self-respect, among others. Many of these risks are magnified in workplace and organizational contexts, given the distinctive forms of interdependence, authority, monitoring, and power they involve. Conversely, organizational contexts may also mitigate some of the risks, given how they can formalize procedures of due process and restorative justice and are putatively less “personal” than informal social contexts. Several contemporary moral controversies intersect with these issues: debates about “cancel culture,” sanctioning employees for social media posts and other off-work behavior, the appropriateness of anger at work and the spread of “mindfulness” practices, and the push for workplace democracy. While there is a large empirical literature examining blame and forgiveness in organizations and other commercial contexts, it has left open the normative and conceptual questions that the philosophical literature on blame and forgiveness has resources to address: When and why do workplace participants have standing to blame one another for wrongs done at, or outside, of work? Does it matter whether they act in their organizational or institutional role? When we forgive someone within an institutional context, such as the workplace, is its reach properly limited to that context and their role therein? Given the asymmetries of power and influence that are typical in organizations, are there differential burdens to lessen blame, apologize, and/or to forgive? How should we understand the distinction between punishment and blame in organizational settings? And is the propriety of blaming or forgiving someone at work sensitive to how they are blamed or forgiven outside of work?

Submission Information: Please send an abstract of no more than 600 words addressing some aspect of the above workshop themes, including broader issues about blame, forgiveness, and institutions, prepared for anonymous review, to by October 15, 2023.

Participant Information: Accepting a place on the program carries a commitment to sharing a full draft of your paper by March 10th, 2024, so that comments can be prepared for each paper on the program. Program participants will be offered some meals (including a workshop dinner) and hotel accommodations on April 12th, thanks to the workshop sponsors: the TransAmerica professorship at SMC, the Elfenworks Center for Responsible Business at SMC, and the Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department at the Wharton School.

Contact Information: Questions may be directed to the workshop organizer, Grant Rozeboom (