Friday, May 13, 2011

Philosophical Perspectives on Twelve-Step Spirituality

Acknowledging Powerlessness:
Philosophical Perspectives on Twelve-Step Spirituality

Over the last fifty years, Twelve-Step programs have had a profound impact on culture world-wide. But these programs have not received much attention from philosophers. We propose to begin filling this gap by publishing an anthology of philosophical essays about various aspects of Twelve-Step spirituality.

We invite all who are interested in contributing to this volume to submit an abstract of 300 to 700 words. Please include a resume with your abstract. After selecting the authors and essays to be included in the volume, we’ll be submitting the project to publishers who have expressed interest in it. We expect to include about 15 papers in the anthology, each between 12 and 18 pages. We hope to receive proposals that employ a variety of philosophical perspectives and methodologies. Essays should be both philosophically substantive and accessible to the thoughtful non-professional. Articles that involve reflection on personal experience are welcome. Contributors need not be philosophers but their essays are expected to be philosophical in nature.

Writers are encouraged to explore any aspect of Twelve-Step spirituality that they consider philosophically provocative. The following are only some of the many issues that might be addressed:

What is addiction and does it render one morally impotent?
Is addiction a disease and, if so, of what sort?
Is a recognition of powerlessness compatible with accepting moral responsibility?
Are the “Twelve Steps” compatible with the moral life as understood by philosophers such as Aristotle and Kant?
Does living virtuously require depending on others as the Twelve Steps imply?
Is it irrational to believe that one’s sanity depends on a power greater than oneself?
Is Twelve-Step spirituality compatible with atheism?
Is Twelve-Step spirituality distinguishable from religion?
Is a spirituality that emphasizes imperfection compatible with virtue ethics?
Is there an intelligible order to the twelve steps that can be philosophically articulated?
Are the “Twelve Steps” rationally defensible?
Does humor play any role in the practice of Twelve-Step spirituality and, if so, what?

Abstracts should be received by June 1, 2011. We intend to inform authors by August 1 as to whether their proposed essay is to be included in the volume. The due date for completed essays will depend on the publisher’s timetable for publication. We hope it will be no later than December 1, 2011. Abstracts and resumes, as well as queries, should be sent to either Jerome Miller at, or Nicholas Plants at

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