What does it mean to exist in complex relationships with machines? What insights can be offered to our understandings of these relationships by the theologically significant theme of ‘love’? What critical assessments can be made of our multiple uses of technologies in shaping our futures, by reflecting on our pasts?

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Disquiet over the prevalence of social and economic individualism has a long history. In a world of mobile Capital and increasingly mobile people, communities of common tradition and locality appear to be under threat from the advent of a fragmented market society. Are these complaints against individualism justified? And crucially, how should Christians respond to them? Digging down into the substance of these questions, this project will consider the theological, liturgical and scriptural resources Christians have for understanding the notion of individualism in relation to issues of education, public life and the formation of democratic citizenship.

University of Manchester, 20th-21st October 2017



Introduction - Call for Papers - Speakers - Programme - Registration - LocationContact




We live with machines. This has become obvious in contexts as diverse as medicine, education, military, leisure, food, and industry, where we form a range of complex relationships with technologies. By bringing researchers and practitioners from these contexts together, this conference invites reflection on practices of care that are developed and challenged between humans and machines, as well as other ‘nonhuman’ groups.

Machines with ever-advanced capabilities are now being developed and deployed to provide companionship and treatment for elderly people, as well as young children with autism and other conditions; they are being sent out to battlefields and hostile terrains to locate mines, patrol borders, and provide defence; and they have been outperforming humans in mass-scale industrial operations for many years now, replacing human labour in a number of processes. The increasing agency of machines, as well as efforts to increase their autonomy, may challenge the assumption that machines are inert tools, as they participate in increasingly complex relationships with humans.

Such relationships can be characterised or promoted by appeals to the notion of ‘care’, but critical reflection on this is needed in order to ascertain the assumptions behind the use of this term, as well as the issues that it raises as part of our engagement with machines.



Call for Papers (**NOW CLOSED**)


In order to respond to the call to explore critically the meaning, significance, and future of care and machines, contributors from a range of disciplines are invited to propose papers on a variety of topics. As an indicative guide, topics and questions that might be explored include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Methodological issues
    • What is ‘care’ in relation to other concepts such as wellbeing, trust, or altruism? What do these reveal about our understandings of care and machines?
    • How can we discern or measure ‘care’ in a technological context?
    • What insights from the philosophy of technology can be applied, developed, or critiqued?
  • Ethical issues
    • Do humans have a duty of care to one another? Can/should this be technologically mediated?
    • What, if any, are the reciprocal demands on participants – human and machine – in caring relationships?
  • Practices in contexts
    • What specific questions are raised by different examples of care and machines? (I.e. mobile devices and ubiquitous communication/data mining; companion robots and projection of emotion/replacement of relationships with other humans; machines in medicine and trust/prompting of new moral dilemmas such as switching off life machines; etc.)
  • Disciplines, traditions and receptions
    • What historical relationships influence our present and future attitudes to care in technological contexts?
    • How do depictions of technologies in fiction influence our attitudes to care and machines?
    • What religious attitudes would support or challenge practices of care with machines?

To propose a 20 minute paper, please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words, together with a short author bio (of approximately 100 words), to The closing date for proposals is 1st June 2017, and authors will be notified of decisions by 1st July. Prospective presenters should be aware of the diverse audience of this conference, and ensure that their papers are accessible to researchers from other fields and disciplines. This should be reflected in abstracts and proposals. 

A poster of the CFP is available to download here.
Alternatively, click here for a printable image-free document of the CFP. 





Keynote presentations were given at the conference by:


  • Prof Jeannette Pols (Socrates Professor [of Empirical Ethics in Care] in Sociology & Anthropology, University of Amsterdam); 
  • Prof Stuart Murray (Professor of Contemporary Literatures and Film, University of Leeds); 
  • Dr Kate Devlin (Senior Lecturer in Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London).




An electronic version of the programme can be downloaded here. (Please note that this may be subject to changes.) (Last updated: 2/10/17)

The conference took place in the Graduate School of the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures. It is located in the Ellen Wilkinson building (number 77 on the campus map) of the University of Manchester, Oxford Road. 

Please note, due to unforeseen circumstances, Noel Sharkey and Aimee van Wynsberghe will no longer be able to attend the conference.









Buses - for all commuters

The conference will take place in the Graduate School, which is housed in the Ellen Wilkinson Building (number 77 on the Campus Map), and is situated on the University's Oxford Road campus. Oxford Road is widely recognised as the busiest bus route in Europe, and so while you won't find yourself waiting too long for a bus, it is important to check that you know which direction you're heading, and which service you need to take to get there.

The University is easily accessible by public transport: from Piccadilly Gardens, which is the main bus station in the city centre, all blue magic buses and Stagecoach services 41, 42, 43 stop directly outside the Student Union, which is just in front of Samuel Alexander. These buses leave very regularly from the far (Primark) side of the stands at Piccadilly Gardens. The journey to University is approximately 10 minutes.

Buses that travel along Oxford Road and Wilmslow Road are 24/7, and serve Rusholme (taking you through the sights, sounds and scents of Manchester's famous Curry Mile), Fallowfield, Withington, and then continue on to East or West Didsbury. Please check with your accommodation reception about the best bus route to take into University.

The cheapest buses serving the Oxford Road are 'Magic' and First buses, on which a single fare anywhere between Didsbury and the city centre is £1.50. Prices on other Stagecoach buses and for other routes vary. 


If you are arriving via Manchester Piccadilly railway station, the most direct bus to the University is the 147 (but note that this does not run on Saturdays); follow signs downstairs to the Metrolink and taxi rank, then cross the road and the bus stop is a little along the road to the left. Alternatively, Piccadilly Gardens are a short walk down out of the main doors of the station, and to the right (see above for details of buses). The route is well-signposted and unmistakable by the number of commuters on their way to or from the station, or you can take the Metrolink for one stop to Piccadilly Gardens (less than two minutes). Finally, there is also a large taxi rank to the rear of the station; a taxi to University will cost around £6, and the journey will be very short. 

If you are coming in via Manchester Oxford Road railway station, the University is either a relatively short walk (approximately 15 minutes) along Oxford Road to the right as you leave the station, or there is a bus stop just opposite the station that is well-serviced by buses, nearly all of which will take you to the University (check front-of-bus displays) in a journey that takes less than 5 minutes.

Finally, if you are arriving at Manchester Victoria railway station, Piccadilly Gardens (see above) are situated on the other side of the city centre. To get there on foot (approximately 15 minutes), walk towards the Arndale centre and carry on to the right, then turn left onto Market Street underneath the Food Court. Piccadilly Gardens are at the far side of Market Street, just past Debenhams and Primark. Alternatively, you can take the free Metroshuttle bus service to Oxford Road railway station from where you can get to the campus on foot or by bus (see above). Please note that the Metrolink (tram) stop for Manchester Victoria is currently closed.


If you are arriving into Manchester Shudehill, Piccadilly Gardens bus station is a short walk away. Simply cross the road opposite the station, and then turn left before you get to the Manchester Arndale shopping centre car park. Once you get to Primark, turn left along the tramlines, and Piccadilly Gardens bus stands are then on the right as you come out onto the open square. This walk takes about 5-10 minutes. 

If you are coming in via the National Express coach station, simply head out towards Portland Street (the main road), and cross over. Then turn right, and Piccadilly Gardens are situated on the left as you come out into the open square. This walk takes about 5 minutes. Buses to the University depart from the furthest stands, nearest to Primark. 



There are a number of options for accommodation in Manchester, ranging from budget hostels, to Airbnbs, to a range of hotels, including the University's own Chancellors Centre, located in Fallowfield (just a short bus ride from Main Campus). If you require any assistance, advice, or reccommendations for accommodation, please get in touch with the conference organisers





If you have any questions, or would like further details on the conference, please email