CfP: Formal Causation (University of Rostock, 22.-23.10.2018, Submission Deadline: 15.04.2018)

Submitted by Ludger Jansen (University of Rostock).


*** Call for Papers
*** 22–23 October 2018
*** University of Rostock, Germany
Deadline: 15 April 2018

Formal causation, one of the four traditional kinds of causation distinguished by Aristotle, is currently heavily under-researched and has even fallen into disrepute. Formal causation is at play whenever a thing has a certain property because it is of a certain kind. Such properties are normally called essential properties. For instance, whales have the disposition to breathe with lungs because they are mammals. There is an extensive and influential trend in contemporary philosophy studying causation in terms of dispositions, while the question of why things have some dispositions (or other properties) and lack others in the first place has largely been ignored.

The conference will explore formal causation, i.e., the view that an object having a property such as a disposition can be explained through kind membership. Some of the talks will be historical work, mainly on Aristotle, some will be systematic work on the contemporary discussion, and some will combine both historical and systematic approaches. Especially relevant for formal causation are the contemporary debates about essence and necessity, dependence and grounding, laws of nature, universals, dispositions, and functions.

There are two slots in the program to be filled through this call for papers. We especially welcome submissions from early-career researchers (such as current PhD students or Post-docs). We are committed to the SWIP good practice scheme.

The conference is funded through the DFG-project “Formal Causation in Aristotle and in Analytic Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science”. We will cover travel expenses up to 300 €, and will also cover accommodation and meals during the conference. We plan to start on Monday morning, so most participants are likely to arrive in Rostock on Sunday. The conference will take place at the IBZ Rostock (Bergstraße 7a, 18057 Rostock). Only a few minutes’ walk from the conference venue is Motel One (Schröderplatz 2, 18057 Rostock), where we have reserved a pool of rooms for the duration of the conference. We also plan to edit a volume based upon the talks at the conference, published by a leading publisher. 

Confirmed speakers:
Michael Ferejohn (Duke)
Kathrin Koslicki (Alberta)
James G. Lennox (Pittsburgh)
Anna Marmodoro (Durham/Oxford)
Stephen Mumford (Durham)
David Oderberg (Reading)
Christof Rapp (LMU Munich)
Benjamin Schnieder (Hamburg)
Tuomas Tahko (Helsinki)
Barbara Vetter (FU Berlin)

Submission requirements: We invite submissions of abstracts of maximum 500 words, suitable for approximately 30–40 minutes presentation (each speaker will have one hour for presentation and discussion). Abstracts are to be submitted by e-mail to

Deadline for submission is 15 April 2018.
Notification of acceptance will be sent by 1 May 2018.
Contact for further information: Petter Sandstad:

Greetings from Rostock,
Ludger Jansen and Petter Sandstad