Monthly Archives: February 2010

CFP: The Epistemology of Liberal Democracy

Copenhagen: 19-20 August 2010 | CFP: 1 April 2010

The second University of Copenhagen conference in epistemology will be held from 19-20 August 2010. The following is the description:

We tend to think of liberal democracy as providing the most ethically defensible way to set up a modern society. A separate yet highly relevant issue is whether liberal democracies also are preferable from an epistemological perspective, i.e., from the point of view of promoting true over false belief, knowledge over ignorance, and so on. The purpose of this conference — and of the research project that it is part of — is to investigate the norms, practices, and institutions that  determine how belief and knowledge is acquired and transmitted in liberal democracies. Questions to be addressed include but are not limited to the following:

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Sen’s The Idea of Justice (Introduction)

Hi All,
This is the first post to kick off the reading group on Sen’s new book The Idea of Justice. I want to thank Blain for organizing this and I look forward to participating in it.

I have to admit it is with much anticipation that I begin to read Sen’s book. A few years ago I heard him give this talk which outlined the basics of the arguments he advances in the book. His project struck me as one that I (as a critic of ideal theory) would be very sympathetic with and I hope this book can helpfully advance the methodological debates the discipline is now engaged in. So I have high hopes for this book and look forward to reading it together with the group.

OK, so down to the business at hand. Keeping Blain’s advice about word count (I’m a bit over, sorry!) in mind, I thought I would begin by drawing attention to a crucial passage in the Preface, and then link that with a few of the central issues that follow in the Introduction itself (issues which will, I suspect, play an important role in the overall argument of the book).

In the Preface Sen explicitly states that the theory of justice he seeks to advance “aims to clarify how we can proceed to address questions of enhancing justice and removing injustice, rather than to offer resolutions of questions about the nature of perfect justice” (ix).

The issue of what we want a theory of justice to deliver is arguably one of the most interesting, and hotly debated, topics in the field today. Some obvious examples that immediately come to my mind are David Schmidtz’s analogy between theories and maps in The Elements of Justice, Elizabeth Anderson’s critique of luck egalitarianism, and G.A. Cohen’s Rescuing Justice and Equality where he distinguishes principles of regulation from principles of justice and maintains that the latter are “fact-free”.

The contrast between Cohen’s position and Sen’s is very stark and worth considering. The vision of political philosophy Sen is invoking, at least in this early chapter of The Idea of Justice, is one primarily concerned with the question “How should be done?”. Whereas for Cohen the primary concern of the philosopher is: “what we should think, even when what we should think makes no practical difference”. I myself come down on the side of Sen on this issue. Those partial to Cohen’s approach might maintain that we ought to privilege deliberating about perfect justice for it is only once we comprehend the ideal that we can properly undertake the practical task of trying to realize justice in the “real world”. Sen notes that he will address this kind of challenge in Chapter 4, so I look forward to seeing how he addresses that concern.

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CFP: Association for Political Theory

[Moving to the top since the deadline is tomorrow. SCM]


Reed College, Portland, Oregon, October 21-23, 2010; Proposals Due February 20, 2010

The Association for Political Theory welcomes paper proposals, panel proposals, and proposals for roundtable discussions from all approaches and on all topics in political theory, political philosophy, and the history of political thought. Faculty, advanced PhD candidates, and independent scholars are eligible to apply. We also encourage faculty to volunteer to serve as chairs and/or discussants.

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CONF & CFP: Global Justice. Concepts, Theories and Constraints (Bucharest, May 18-19, 2010)

Global Justice. Concepts, Theories and Constraints: May 18-19, 2010 | CFP: 20 April 2010

Having gained an unprecedented urgency, the topic of global justice has received increasingly public and academic attention, and has lately become a central issue in moral and political philosophy. Our conference seeks to be a forum for discussing the most important theories of global justice, their central concepts and constraints.

Professor Thomas Pogge (Yale University) will deliver the conference keynote address.

The conference will be held at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest. The conference is organized by the The Center for the Study of Rationality and Beliefs as part of the research project Reason and Beliefs. Rationality, Public Reason and Education within a Multicultural Society financed by CNCSIS/UEFISCSU.

Submission of papers
We welcome papers concerning any topic related to global justice. Contributions are expected from researchers from different academic fields who are interested in the outlined topic or in closely related ones. Students are also invited to submit papers for the conference, as we intend to organize a student panel. Abstracts should be sent by e-mail as attachment at until the 20 April 2010. The deadline for submitting the full version of your paper is 10 May 2010. Along with the abstract, please send us your contact details: current affiliation, address and telephone number. The organizers cannot support any travel or accommodation costs.

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Dissensus – n°3 – e-journal in political philosophy

We are pleased to announce the third issue of Dissensus, focused on “Droit et philosophie du langage ordinaire”, directed by D. Pieret, with contributions of D. Pieret, B. Leclercq, B. Ambroise, D. Pasteger, S. Goltzberg, N. Thirion, T. Berns & G. Jeanmart, A. Janvier & J. Pieron, A. Herla and T. Bolmain.

Dissensus is the University of Liege (Belgium) peer-reviewed electronic journal in political philosophy. Papers are welcome, in English or French and are to be sent to secretariat.dissensus [at]

Dissensus is available on and

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Schedule for Sen, “The Idea of Justice”, Reading Group

Dear Public Reason Contributors and Readers,

Below is the schedule for our international online reading group on Amartya Sen’s recent book, The Idea of Justice.  Of course, modifications to the schedule may have to be made as we go along, but hopefully we will be able to maintain, for the most part, a weekly schedule.

I envision this group as operating in a similar fashion to the previous reading groups conducted on this blog (viz., the ones on Estlund and Brettschneider).  Participants may want to look at those discussions in order to get a sense of what is involved.  (Links to both can be found on the left hand side of this webpage.) read more...

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