Beyond Free Will: Variety in Understanding of Choice, Luck, and Necessity

Vytis Silius's picture
June 20, 2022 to June 23, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Cultural History / Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, Asian History / Studies

Beyond Free Will: Variety in Understanding of Choice, Luck, and Necessity


June 20-23, 2022

Vilnius University, Lithuania


[We will make every effort to ensure that this conference goes ahead in-person. However, it is entirely possible that for safety reasons and COVID-related policies we may have to move parts of the conference online. If this is the case, any successful applicants who are unable to attend the conference in person will be given a chance to present remotely (taking into account our technical capabilities and time-zone considerations).]


Call for papers


Contemporary Western discourse on freedom and choice – some of the most championed modern values – is usually anchored in the concept cluster of free will and autonomous choice. In turn, academic research on free will in philosophy (including experimental philosophy) and psychology is largely based on a limited conceptual framework with roots in particular debates in Christianity and European philosophy. This framework is currently challenged by multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches applied in the fields of area and Asian studies, comparative philosophy, and also empirical research in cross-cultural psychology, and anthropology.

In the present multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary conference, we invite scholars from philosophy, psychology, anthropology, Asian studies, religious studies and other related fields to discuss theoretical alternatives to the dominant framework that are sensitive to cultural differences and local contexts as well as empirical research - especially cross-cultural and cross-linguistic – on conceptualisations of free and constrained action and cultural practices in dealing with these constraints.

Suggested keywords: free will, determinism, fate, fortune, luck, choice, chance, karma, predestination and divine foreknowledge, supernatural agency, divination, astrology and prediction, luck rituals, teleology.


We invite presentations that deal with these topics on any of the three levels:

A. Descriptions of practices and belief systems related to the given keywords, both historical and ethnographic.

B. Psychological and other empirical approaches to free and constrained action.

C. Broader theoretical reflections on cultural conceptualisations of freedom and constraints in philosophy, religious studies, and other disciplines.


We invite proposals for individual papers and panels. Please submit a 250-300 word abstract to the conference organizers via: 


Confirmed keynote speakers: 

• Nadia Chernyak (University of California, Irvine, Psychology) – ‘The Development of Early Childhood Free Will Beliefs Across Cultures’
• Rick Repetti (Kingsborough Community College, Philosophy) – ‘Buddhism, Meditation, and Free Will’
• Robin R. Wang (Loyola Marymount University, Philosophy) – ‘The Gift of Heaven and the Perplexity of Human Mind: Daoist Transformation of Destiny’


Submission timeline:

Early submission deadline: October 1, 2021.

Absolute submission deadline: March 1, 2022.

Notifications of acceptance for abstracts and panel proposals received by the October 1 will be sent out by November 1, 2021. We have established an early submission timeline to facilitate faculty applying to their own institutions for travel funding.

Abstracts received after October 1, 2021 will be vetted as received. The absolute deadline for abstract submissions is March 1, 2022. After this, we will not be able to accommodate additional proposals.


For more information on important dates, organisers, the venue, and the questions offered to discuss, please visit our website:, e-mail for inquiries:

Contact Info: 

The organising committee:

Audrius Beinorius (Vilnius University Institute of Asian and Transcultural Studies; Chair)
Renatas Berniūnas (Vilnius University Institute of Psychology)
Vilius Dranseika (Vilnius University Institute of Philosophy)
Vytis Silius (Sun Yat-sen University; Vilnius University Institute of Asian and Transcultural Studies)
Paulius Rimkevičius (Vilnius University Institute of Asian and Transcultural Studies)
Agnė Veisaitė (City University of Hong Kong)

The conference organizers' e-mail:

Contact Email: