Category Archives: research

Call for Papers: Well-being in Contemporary Society

Call for Papers: Well-being in Contemporary Society

International Conference on the Philosophy and Science of Well-being and their Practical Importance

Location:             University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands
Date:                     July 26-27, 2012

Program Chair:
Philip Brey (University of Twente)

Organising committee:
Johnny Hartz Søraker (University of Twente)
Pak-Hang Wong (University of Twente)
Jan-Willem van der Rijt (University of Amsterdam)
Jelle de Boer (University of Amsterdam)

About the Conference

In recent years, well-being has enjoyed a renaissance in philosophical discussions, as well as in fields like psychology, economics, development studies and sociology. Although these approaches share a common goal – to better understand what well-being is and how it can be enhanced – these developments have led to a great diversity in philosophical and scientific approaches to the analysis of well-being. Despite the increasing amount of research, most of the work on well-being is also performed at a highly abstract level. This is especially true in philosophy, but relatively little work has been devoted to the application of theories of well-being also in other fields, in particular when it comes to an understanding of life in contemporary society. Developments such as globalization, consumerism, and the rapid innovation and use of new and emerging technologies, all exert significant impact on the well-being of people living today, and we need a better understanding of their consequences for well-being.

Contemporary society requires that well-being researchers examine these problems – and, if possible, propose solutions to address them. This international conference aims to bring together researchers from various disciplines, including, but not limited to, psychology, economics, sociology, philosophy and development studies, in order to examine the practical role of well-being in contemporary society.

Potential Topics

We are looking for contributions that examine the notion of well-being in the context of contemporary society. The conference particularly welcomes papers that employ a notion of well-being to address social, political and ethical issues in present-day society. Suggested topics for the workshop include, but are not limited to:

  • Theoretical developments and approaches in the philosophy and science of well-being in relation to contemporary society, culture and life.
  • Well-being in social and political philosophy and/or in policy studies
  • Positive psychology (and related research fields) and its practical applicability
  • New and emerging technologies and well-being
  • Intercultural and interpersonal comparisons of well-being
  • Reliability, validity and applicability of well-being measures
  • Other specific practical issues pertaining to well-being in contemporary society

The workshop will include both invited papers and an open call for papers. For the open call, we invite extended abstracts (1500-2000 words).  Please anonymise the abstract, and include title, name and address in the accompanying email. The abstract, and any questions you may have about the conference, should be sent to Your abstract should be submitted before February 15th 2012, and will be subject to blind peer review.


Following the conference we aim to publish the papers, subject to a blind review process, in either an edited volume or a special issue of a relevant journal. We did so successfully with our previous conference, Good Life In a Technological Age, from which select papers were published as book in the prestigious Routledge Studies in Science, Technology and Society series, and will be available in February 2012.

Important Dates

Abstract Submission Deadline:   February 15. 2012
Notification of Acceptance:         March 1, 2012
Conference Dates:                          July 26-27, 2012



The official web site is under construction. Don’t hesitate to contact us on the email address above if you have any questions about the conference.

Why open access publishing is troublesome

In various email lists etc. there have been a lot of discussion about the future of paper journals and the superiority of open access on-line journals. Although I agree that information should be widely accessible and that many (especially independent) researchers are left out of the loop due to the cost of subscribing to journals, the solution is not to just move access-restricted journals into the public domain, nor to abolish paper journals. Sometimes there’s made a connection between the seemingly inevitable demise of other physical media (e.g. cd’s and similar will be entirely replaced by digital downloads) but this is a very misleading analogy. The most important thing about scholarly research and academic journals is that they have to be subject to a quality control, usually in the form of a peer review. Although there’s nothing difficult about doing this with open access journals, the main problem is that it is difficult for the reader to know the extent and quality of peer review. The reason is that with open access journals, there is often no discernable body that puts its reputation at stake. If a journal is rumoured to not take the peer review process seriously, then no respectable publisher would let that continue. Blackwell, Springer etc. have a reputation at stake. With online journals, there is often no such stakes involved. I’m not saying that this is foolproof (there are probably many instances of shoddy journals hiding behind a respectable publisher), but at the very least it is a more reliable indicator than anything found on the Web. Thus, the alternative to the current system cannot bypass the important role of the publishers. The alternative, in other words, is not to start up a host of independent, ad hoc journals, but rather to sway the publishers to find alternative and more accessible means of publishing their journals. The reason why the analogy with record companies does not hold, is that there is no such requirement for peer review and quality control in music. Research is not a matter of the taste of the consumers, but the quality of the research; and currently the best way we have of controlling the latter seems to be peer-review and to have it done through a publisher with a reputation at stake. In more constructive terms, I think the sustainable road to more open access journals is to sway the publishers, not to simply set up alternatives whose scientific quality is difficult to assess.