The increased visibility of the BDS movement in the wake of the Israeli-Gaza conflict of summer 2014, and the more recent Salaita affair at the UIUC, have generated a renewed interest among academics in general, and philosophers in particular, in the theory and praxis of boycotting (e.g. economic, academic, political, cultural). However, despite considerable informal discussion in various professional fora and on social media, the topic of boycotting has thus far attracted surprisingly little systematic scholarly attention from moral, political or legal philosophers. This is an unfortunate state of affairs, as boycotting as a form of moral and political action raises a range of important ethical issues, including:
– In what circumstances is boycotting appropriate?
– What light do the principal ethical theories (deontology, consequentialism, virtue theory) cast on the practice of boycotting? How do they view its justification and its limits?
– How are the appropriate targets of boycotting and the notion of complicity defined?
– What is the relevance of empirical evidence as to the efficacy of boycotting to its justification?
– How is the problem of collateral damage (i.e. harm done to parties not directly complicit in the actions warranting boycotts) to be weighed in the overall moral assessment of boycotts?
– Do academic boycotts raise issues distinct from other forms, such as economic and political ones?
This list is suggestive rather than exhaustive, and the editors welcome papers that explore related issues pertinent to the ethics of boycotting in a focused and systematic manner, and by using the tools and intellectual traditions of moral, political and legal philosophy. The special issue has drawn preliminary interest from the Journal of Applied Philosophy, to which a full proposal including selected abstracts will be submitted.