IAB conference 2008

I wonder what readers’ experiences were of the IAB conference in Croatia at the start of the month.  I know that some delegates had a terrible time with the organisation – what were your impressions?  Additionally, what was your impression of the standard of papers?

For myself, I was happy to see that those whom I thought would be worth hearing were worth hearing; and there was a good number of papers that were a genuine pleasure to attend.  On the other hand, there was also a number of papers that I thought were (ahem) somewhat less than inspiring.  One or two made me wish that I’d stayed in bed spent a bit more time in the sea gone to other sessions.  And a couple was just hilariously bad.  Here’s a clue: any paper that starts with the phrase “I would like to invite you to come on a journey with me…” should have alarm bells ringing.  And when people are wearing costumes…  Just: no.

Other thoughts?  Who impressed you?  What impressed you?  And what made you want to run away and hide?

  • Well despite the chaos, and the food (more on that later) I had a great time at the conference. I very much enjoyed several of the papers that I saw, and of course the socializing was nice as well…

    Who impressed me: Richard Ashcroft for his paper critiquing Norman Daniels, I thought it was an excellent paper, but more importantly an excellent and funny presentation.
    What impressed me: The smooth running and good order of the Philosophy and Bioethics network special session, organized by James Wilson & oh I forget his name – that chap who spoke almost as many times as Soren Holm 🙂
    Run away and hide: Sessions ending at 8 in the evening followed by “optional” dinners.

  • Ruth Wilkinson

    As someone who gave their paper in one of those “sessions ending at 8”, I can say with confidence that they were extremely unpleasant, especially in non-airconditioned rooms. Despite the fact that there were only two people left in the audience by the end, my paper went well, and the questions were insightful and useful. Thanks!

    The paper which sticks in my mind was given by a design student who had been working with Richard Ashcroft to create designs for products which related to bioethical issues. The human and pig transplantation doll was the most memorable. It was very interesting to see how bioethics can be seen from many different perspectives. For high quality argumentation, Iain’s response to John must come pretty high up the list!

    On the whole a good experience (grumbles about the food and the post conference tummy bug notwithstanding).

  • Søren Holm

    Well in one of the papers we were continually exhorted to “transcend the binaries” so I am not sure that I can any longer talk about good/bad, enjoyable/non-enjoyable etc.
    But if I take my hardheaded analytical hat on I was impressed by some of the papers combining empirical and philosophical approaches in useful ways.
    There was one paper I would have liked to go to but missed because of the distances between the venues. This was Jan Helge Solbakks papers pointing out that the discipline that has had the most extensive discussion of hybrids is Christian theology. In Christology there is extensive discussion about the relation between Christ’s two natures.

  • Iain Brassington

    Post conference tummy bug? Ewwww.

    I think we should set up a Richard Ashcroft fanclub: I thought his stuff was pretty good, too. And, Ruth, you’re right: Emilio’s design paper was very enjoyable. Not sure it was quite ethics – but it was fun.


    1. The transparency and delivery of logistical information about the conference was sorely lacking. But things were run rather well once one arrived in Rijeka. There were lots of staff to help guide participants around.

    2. There were enough social settings (coffees, lunches, wines) to follow-up on issues from the sessions.


    1. The timing of the conference is not accommodating to the U.S. academic calendar. Classes had just begun.

    2. I sort of wish more of the conference was centered in the far more beautiful and relaxed Opatija than in Rijeka. But I suspect those hotels had more limited conference capacities.

  • Iain Brassington

    I ought to echo Thaddeus on this – I thought that the students who often had to pick up the pieces of the organisational mishaps were fabulous. They were consistently friendly and helpful.