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.)

Before we get rolling, there are three modest suggestions that I would like to make.

First of all, it is expected that all participants will have done the relevant reading for the week in question.  Consequently, I don’t think that detailed or comprehensive summaries for each chapter will be necessary.  Rather, I would recommend summarizing only the material that you think is especially interesting, controversial, or relevant to the matters that you want to comment upon.

Second, I would recommend that most posts try to stay under 1000 words (ideally ‘well under’).  “Brevity is the soul of wit,” as the Bard says.  We are all busy people, and I worry that posting ‘mini-articles’ may serve as a disincentive for people to read the commentaries in their entirety and to participate in the discussion.

Third, although this probably is quite obvious to us all, I would recommend, if possible, trying to identify 1-3 specific questions, issues, or criticisms for further discussion in each commentary.

Obviously these are meant as suggestions only!  Feel free to write a longer post, or raise 4+ issues (or none at all), if you think that the chapter on which you are commenting warrants it.

We have an extremely impressive group of commentators lined up for this discussion.  Thanks to all of you in advance for your time and effort!  I’m very much looking forward to our discussion.

Best wishes,


Introduction (Feb 22) Colin Farrelly (Queens U)

Part I – The Demands of Justice

1. Reason and Objectivity (March 1) Blain Neufeld (UW-M)
2. Rawls and Beyond (March 8.) Blain Neufeld (UW-M)
3. Institutions and Persons (March 15) Robert Jubb (UCL/Oxford)
4. Voice and Social Choice (March 22) Chris Lowry (CU HK)
5. Impartiality and Objectivity (March 29) Derek Bowman (Brown)
6. Closed and Open Impartiality (April 5) Jonathan Quong (Manchester)

Part II – Forms of Reasoning

7. Position, Relevance and Illusion (April 12) Steve Vanderheiden (Colorado)
8. Rationality and Other People (April 19) Alon Harel (Hebrew U)
9. Plurality of Impartial Reasons (April 26) Charles Olney (UCSC)
10. Realizations, Consequences and Agency (May 3) Andrew Lister (Queens U)

Part III – The Materials of Justice

11. Lives, Freedoms and Capabilities (May 10) Daniel Weinstock (Montreal)
12. Capabilities and Resources (May 17) Leslie Francis (Utah)
13. Happiness, Well-being and Capabilities (May 24) Colleen Murphy (Texas A&M)
14. Equality and Liberty (May 31) Jurgen De Wispelaere (CREUM)

Part IV – Public Reasoning and Democracy

15. Democracy as Public Reason (June 7) Peter Stone (Stanford)
16. The Practice of Democracy (June 14) Cynthia Stark (Utah)
17. Human Rights and Global Imperatives (July 21) Alex Sager (Calgary)
18. Justice and the World (July 28) Alex Sager (Calgary)

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

  1. Blain Neufeld says:

    I thought that I would mention that I tried to e-mail Professor Sen to let him know about this discussion group. I received an automated reply stating (roughly) that he receives a huge volume of messages every day (often 200+!), and thus is unable to respond to every message. There is a chance that his assistant eventually will bring my message to his attention, but I would be *very* surprised (although obviously delighted) if Sen eventually takes part in any way in this group. Of course, I doubt that any of us expected otherwise. Given all of the different causes that he is involved in, it always seemed unlikely that our discussion group would appear on his radar. Nonetheless, I thought that I would mention that I at least tried to bring the group to his attention.

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