Our 2018 end of year conference, ‘Virtues of Powerlessness? Faith, Love and Hope in a Secular World’ took place at Senate House, London on Friday and Saturday 15th and 16th of June, 2018.
Our Spring 2018 workshop, ‘Moral Distress and Powerlessness’, took place at the Wivenhoe Sailing Club on Friday 23rd February 2018.
Moral distress is a key concept in nursing and more generally in the context of health care practices. It is the distress experienced by agents who know what the right course of action is but are prevented from taking it by external constraints (material, hierarchical or institutional, for example). Moral distress differs from moral conflict in that there is no dilemma about what to do, but a sense of being powerless to do what one thinks is right. In this workshop, we sought to understand the experience of moral distress, to determine whether/when it is ethically appropriate, and whether faith, hope and love might be of help in dealing with moral distress.
Our Autumn 2017 workshop, ‘Addiction, Powerlessness and 12 Step Programmes’, took place at the University of Essex on Friday 24th November 2017.
Addiction is a paradigmatic case of powerlessness. Conversely, powerlessness and the acknowledgement of powerlessness are central to the twelve-step programs, as are references to faith, love and hope. Yet many balk at these programmes’ reliance on trust in a ‘higher power’ and more generally at the crypto-theology they seem to involve. In this workshop, we sought to understand the experiences of powerlessness involved in addiction, to explore the limits of the helpfulness of the twelve-step programs, and to see whether a secularised version would be workable.
Our 2017 end of year conference, ‘Faith, Hope and Love as Virtues in Modernity’ took place at Senate House, London on Friday and Saturday 23rd – 24th of June, 2017.
For Aquinas, faith, hope and love (caritas) form a distinct set of virtues: the theological virtues. Since Aquinas, the idea of the theological virtues has come under sustained attack: both from within Christian thought, not least from the early Reformers, and then as part of the general challenge on Christendom associated with the European Enlightenment and from thinkers such as Spinoza and Nietzsche. This conference explored how the theological virtues have fared in modernity, in the wake of these challenges.