The HCAS Conference SELF: Theoretical Approaches to Subjectivity, Personhood, and Agency offers an interdisciplinary forum devoted to theoretical and historical accounts of the constitution of the self, boundaries of moral and legal agency, and the subject’s relation to oneself and others. We invite contributions from philosophy, law, psychology, and sociology as well as cognate fields such as intellectual history and theology. Themes to be addressed fall into the following categories:

(1) Boundaries of Personhood: What are the basic criteria of personhood? Can artificial intelligences, biological chimaeras, or hybrids be considered as persons? How has the notion of personhood developed over time? Do different disciplines (eg philosophy, sociology, psychology, law) operate with the same notion of personhood?

(2) Individual and Community: We are individuals with unique identities as well as social beings dependent on other individuals, communities, cultural contexts, and institutions, which are arguably constitutive of our identities. That a dialogical relationship with others is a necessary requirement for self-formation and self-esteem is an idea put forth in both historical sources and current theoretical debates. What factors ground the formation of subjectivity and personal identity? What is the role of others in the formation of the self? How to explain the interplay between individual identity and communal interaction?

(3) The Rights and Duties of Persons: How does personhood relate to agency and responsibility? Young children and persons with severe mental disabilities have often been excluded from moral and criminal responsibility, but what are the grounds of this exclusion? Can groups be held responsible? Are only persons entitled to rights? Who counts as a legal person, who can act in legal contexts, and who is entitled to the protection of the law?

Confirmed Speakers:

Michael S. Moore (University of Illinois)

Mark Rowlands (University of Miami)

Marya Schechtman (University of Illinois)


Heikki Ikäheimo (University of New South Wales)

Simo Knuuttila (University of Helsinki)

Arto Laitinen (University of Tampere)

Danièle Moyal-Sharrock (University of Hertfordshire)

Anssi Peräkylä (University of Helsinki)

Constantine Sandis (University of Hertfordshire)

Susie Scott (University of Sussex)

Colin Wight (University of Sydney)


Conference organizers: Visa Kurki, Ritva Palmen, Hanne Appelqvist, and Kaisa Kaakinen

For further information, please send email to self2020@helsinki.fi

(Image design by Minerva Juolahti)