Saint Anne's College
56 Woodstock Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2 6HS
There has been an explosion of research recently on the second-person perspective, closely linked to new approaches to the philosophy of persons in which ‘I’ and ‘you’ are understood as inherently and mutually relational. The pioneering work of Martin Buber, Emmanuel Levinas and others in the twentieth century has been augmented by new data from the empirical sciences, especially the study of joint attention and conditions such as autistic spectrum disorder, Williams Syndrome and prosopagnosia, characterised by atypical second-person responsiveness as well as research stimulated by the controversy as to whether certain non-human primates have a “theory of mind” and can entertain another’s point of view. The implications of such developments can scarcely be exaggerated, shaping the foundations of ethics and personal identity, but touching also on other areas of philosophy, social cognition, neuroscience, developmental psychology, ethology, theology and many aspects of the humanities generally. Such research is also seen as having implications for society in a broader sense, especially at a time of rising concern about narcissism and apparent deficits of empathy and social cohesion.
The aim of this conference is to present, discuss and debate these developments from a variety of perspectives, crossing interdisciplinary boundaries to elucidate the purported distinctiveness of the second-person perspective and explore its implications. Besides plenary speakers and panel discussions, up to fifty short papers will be presented.