Monthly Archives: December 2010

Political Competence Bleg

I’m currently writing papers involving the idea of political incompetence, i.e., lacking competence to exercise political power properly.I’d like to start this thread just to collect intuitions, or, if you’re up for it, conclusions of short arguments.  Question: If you accept that there is a distinction between competent and incompetent exercises of power, or if you accept that there are distinctions between people being competent and incompetent to exercise power, how would you best characterize the distinction? What makes someone competent or incompetent?  Etc.  I realize this is a broad question, but I’m looking for a wide range of answers.Here’s an example of something I’d consider political incompetence.  Suppose a jury made up of normal people with normal mental abilities has been charged with deciding whether some defendant is guilty of a crime.  The evidence strongly suggests that the defendant is not guilty.  However, due to certain cognitive/epistemic biases, they reason badly and find the defendant guilty.  Though the jurors are overall competent, they acted incompetently in this instance.Thanks!


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Montreal political theory manuscript workshop award

(le français suit)


Call for applications: The Groupe de recherche interuniversitaire en philosophie politique de Montréal (GRIPP), spanning the departments of political science and philosophy at McGill University, l’Université de Montréal, Concordia University, and l’Université du Québec à Montréal, invites applications for its 2011 manuscript workshop award. The recipient of the award will be invited to Montreal for a day-long workshop in April 2011 dedicated to his or her book manuscript. This “author meets critics” workshop will comprise four to five sessions dedicated to critical discussion of the manuscript; each session will begin with a critical commentary on a section of the manuscript by a political theorist or philosopher who is part of Montreal’s GRIPP community. The format is designed to maximize feedback for a book-in-progress. The award covers the costs of travel, accommodation, and meals.


A. Topic: The manuscript topic is open within political theory and political philosophy, but we are especially interested in manuscripts related to at least one of these GRIPP research themes: 1) the history of liberal and democratic thought, especially early modern thought; 2) moral psychology and political agency, or politics and affect or emotions or rhetoric; 3) democracy, diversity, and pluralism. 4) democracy, justice, and transnational institutions.

B. Manuscript: Book manuscripts in English or French, not yet in a version accepted for publication, by applicants with PhD in hand by 1 August 2010, are eligible. Applicants must have a complete or nearly complete draft (at least 4/5 of final draft) ready to present at the workshop. In the case of co-authored manuscripts, only one of the co-authors is eligible to apply. (Only works in progress by the workshop date are eligible; authors with a preliminary book contract are eligible only if no version has been already accepted for publication).

C. Application: Please submit the following materials electronically, compiled as a single PDF file: 1) a curriculum vitae; 2) a table of contents; 3) a short abstract of the book project, up to 200 words; 4) a longer book abstract up to 2500 words; and, in the case of applicants with previous book publication(s), (5) three reviews, from established journals in the field, of the applicant’s most recently published monograph. Candidates are not required to, but may if they wish, submit two letters of recommendation speaking to the merits of the book project. Please do not send writing samples. Send materials by email, with the subject heading “2011 GRIPP Manuscript Workshop Award” to Arash Abizadeh, arash.abizadeh [at] . Review of applications begins 10 January 2011. Contact Arash Abizadeh with questions.

Previous GRIPP Manuscript Workshops:

  • April 2010: Hélène Landemore (Yale), Democratic Reason: Politics, Collective Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many.
  • April 2009: Alan Patten (Princeton), Equal Recognition: The Moral Foundations of Minority Cultural Rights.
  • March 2009: Kinch Hoekstra (UC Berkeley), Thomas Hobbes and the Creation of Order

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ASPLP Conference: Passions and Emotions

Passions and Emotions

Annual Meeting of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy (to be held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the APA, Eastern Division) December 29, 2010, St. Botolph Room (Second Floor), Boston Marriott Copley Place

I. Passion & Impartiality: Passions & Emotions in Moral Judgment: 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

  • Principal paper (philosophy): Jesse Prinz, City University of New York Graduate Center, “Constructive Sentimentalism: Legal and Political Implications”
  • Commentator (law): Carol Sanger, Columbia University
  • Commentator (political science): Michael Frazer, Harvard University
  • Chair: Allen Buchanan, Duke University

II. Passion & Motivation: Passions & Emotions in Democratic Politics: 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

  • Principal paper (political science): George Marcus, Williams College, “Reason, Passion, and Democratic Politics: Old Conceptions – New Understandings – New Possibilities”
  • Commentator (law): Susan Bandes, DePaul University
  • Commentator (philosophy): Cheshire Calhoun, Arizona State University
  • Chair: Nancy Rosenblum, Harvard University

Annual Business Meeting: 2:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m.

III. Passion & Dispassion: Passions & Emotions in Legal Interpretation: 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

  • Principal paper (law): Robin West, Georgetown University, “The Anti-Empathic Turn”
  • Commentator (political science): Kenneth Kersch, Boston College
  • Commentator (philosophy): Benjamin Zipursky, Fordham University
  • Chair: James Fleming, Boston University

Reception: 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., also in St. Botolph Room (Second Floor)


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CFP: Northwestern Ethics/Political Philosophy Conference

Northwestern SETPP: 19-21 May 2011 | CFP: 15 February 2011

The Northwestern University Society for Ethical Theory and Political Philosophy will hold their fifth annual conference on 19-21 May 2011. The keynote speakers are Philip Pettit and R. Jay Wallace.  Submissions from faculty and graduate students are welcome, as some sessions will be reserved for student presentations. Please submit an essay of approximately 4000 words and an abstract of at most 150 words. Essay topics in all areas of ethical theory and political philosophy will be considered, although some priority will be given to essays that take up themes from the works of Philip Pettit and R. Jay Wallace, such as responsibility, practical reasoning, freedom, democratic theory, constructivism, contractualism, individual agency, and collective agency. Essays and abstracts should be prepared for blind review in word, rtf, or pdf format. Graduate submissions should be sent by email to leegoldsmith2012 [at]; faculty submissions should be sent by e-mail to garthoff [at] Notices of acceptance will be sent by 31 March 2011. For more information, please contact Jon Garthoff at the e-mail address above or visit our website.


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PhD Fellowships in Political Theory at Central European University

Call for Applications:
Political Theory Track of CEU Doctoral Program in Political Science,


We invite applications for the Political Theory Track of CEU Doctoral Program in Political Science for the Academic Year 2011-2012. The Political Theory track is designed to prepare students for a career in academia and institutions of applied research. It is highly competitive and welcomes applications from graduates of Political Science, Philosophy, Law, Sociology, Economics, and related disciplines.

About the Program

The Political Theory track of the CEU Doctoral Program is one of five specialized tracks in CEU’s political science PhD program. It focuses on theoretical and applied perspectives in normative political theory. Major topics include justice, political obligation, democratic theory, applied political theory, philosophy of the social sciences and its application to normative problems, transitional justice among others.

While being operated by the Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations, the Political Theory track is at the same time jointly announced by the Departments of Political Science and Philosophy. This provides students engaged in this track with relatively easy access to courses offered by Philosophy and an opportunity to share seminars with philosophy students.

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CFP: Princeton Grad Conference in Political Theory

Princeton: 8-9 April 2011 | CFP: 10 January 2011

The Committee for the Graduate Conference in Political Theory at Princeton University welcomes papers concerning any period, methodological approach or topic in political theory, political philosophy, or the history of political thought.  Approximately eight papers will be accepted.

Each session, led by a discussant from Princeton, will be focused exclusively on one paper and will feature an extensive question and answer period with Princeton faculty and students.  Papers will be pre-circulated among conference participants.

The keynote address will be given by Professor Patchen Markell of the University of Chicago.

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