CFA: Psychological and Structural Explanations of Injustice


University of Utah, Salt Lake City

October 12 – 13 2017


Conference Website:

THEME: What is the relationship between psychological and structural explanations of persistent social injustice?

This conference—the final in a series of four—considers recent empirical and philosophical work that frames social injustice in terms of individualistic psychological explanations. Such explanations appeal to phenomena such as prejudice, implicit bias, stereotyping, and stereotype threat, in order to understand persisting inequities in a broad range of contexts, including educational, corporate, medical, and informal social contexts (Valian 1997; Fricker 2007; Antony 2012; Saul, 2013; Madva 2016).

A key challenge to these explanations, and the discourses that incorporate them, maintains that the focus on individual psychology is at best obfuscatory of, and at worst totally irrelevant to, more fundamental causes of injustice, which are institutional and structural (Young 1990; Cudd 2006, Anderson 2010; Ayala 2015, Haslanger 2015). Yet structural explanations face difficulties accommodating the extent to which individual agency is implicated in those problematic structures or institutions. Nor are they well placed to articulate how individual agency might be directed towards changing these structures.

This conference series will generate more fully worked-out understandings of the interaction between these two kinds of explanations. It will also investigate the normative and practical implications of one’s explanatory mode on attempts to address bias via institutional policy, interpersonal intervention, and collective action.


  • Dr. Kristie Dotson (Philosophy, Michigan State University)
  • Dr. Adam Hosein (Philosophy, University of Colorado, Boulder)
  • Dr. Theresa Lopez & Dr. Brian Chambliss (Philosophy, University of Arizona)
  • Dr. Kate Manne (Philosophy, Cornell University)
  • Dr. Jennifer Mueller (Sociology, Skidmore College)
  • Dr. Victoria Plaut (Law, UC Berkeley)
  • Dr. Flannery Stevens (Business, Villanova University)

CALL FOR POSTER PRESENTATIONS: There will be a poster session associated with conference, to be held on its first day. Up to eight participants will be invited to present their work. If you are interested in presenting, please submit an abstract of up to 1500 words on a theme associated with the conference, ready for anonymous review. We encourage submissions from postgraduate and early career researchers. We in particular welcome submissions from individuals who identify as members of under-represented groups. Note that we hope to invite researchers working in a wide range of fields, including black studies, disabilities studies, ethnic studies, gender studies, law, philosophy, psychology, and sociology.

For examples of papers/presentations within our theme, please see the programs from past conferences:

***Accommodation costs & registration for poster presenters will be covered. We may also be able to contribute a small amount to travel costs, but the amount (if any) is to be determined***

 Abstracts should be prepared for anonymous review, and submitted via email by the 15th of May 2017. Submissions should be made to Louise Pederson, administrative assistant, at

ACCESSIBILITY: The conference will take place at the Languages and Communications Building at the University of Utah (LNCO), Room 2110. Note: this venue is wheelchair accessible. If participants are in need of a quiet room during the conference for whatever reason, they will have access to one. There is no website for the building, unfortunately.

Specific accommodation needs that are not already met by the venue can be detailed on our online registration form (details of which to follow). Our aim is to plan the conference in a way that permits all participants to enjoy the full benefits of participation. Further inquiries about accessibility can be made to conference organizers at the addresses listed below or, if preferred, directly to Chris Burningham—an accessibility specialist at the University of Utah—at

Program details are available on our website: Registration information and further details will be available online as of August 1 2017. For additional details or enquiries please contact the organizers:

We thank the University of Utah’s College of Humanities, as well as the University of Utah’s philosophy department, for funding this event.

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