Author Archives: Rutger Claassen

2 PhD and 1 postdoc position in project “Private Property and Political Power in Liberal-Democratic Societies” at Utrecht University

These positions are part of a Free Competition project granted by the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO). The project investigates the link between private property and political power in liberal-democratic societies. The idea of property has always played an important role in political philosophy, in explaining and legitimizing the exercise of political authority. However, the exercise of property rights can also undermine political authority, by rivalling the power and functions of public organizations. This project aims to understand these linkages between property and legitimate political power, both against the historical background of the social contract tradition, and in the contemporary economic landscape marked by globalization, uncertainty about the capabilities of states to manage the economy and large inequalities in wealth. The subprojects focus on three distinct forms of private property (held by corporations, collectives, and individuals) to create a new theory of property-power relations which is able to evaluate claims to political legitimacy.

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CFP: The Ethics of Economic Institutions

Utrecht, January 8-10, 2015.

Our economic institutions are never merely economic institutions; they are always at the same time also moral statements about the good or right ways in which we produce, exchange, consume, distribute and ultimately live together. This includes both the public and private part of economic life. This prompts many questions, such as the following:

  • What kind of taxes should we have, and on which purposes should we spend public revenues?
  • Which markets are to be prohibited, and how should markets be regulated?
  • What would a just financial sector require? Which kinds of relations should prevail between debtors and creditors?
  • What is the purpose of corporations, and what are the implications for corporate governance?
  • Should citizens have a right and/or a duty to work and how to theorize moral obligations to appropriate workplace conditions?

This conference is meant to stimulate reflection about the ethical sides of these questions. Which moral ideals should animate our economic institutions, and what are the implications in practice? We seek contributions from moral, social and political philosophy, but also from a wide range of other disciplines (economics, history, sociology, law, etc.) that may shed light on these questions. Contributions may address a particular author (e.g. Rawls on property-owning democracy, Mill on the stationary state), ethical theory (e.g. a Kantian view on financial markets, a utilitarian view of labour markets), or a particular economic institution (from basic income schemes to ecological markets). We are particularly interested in contributions addressing the methodology of ethical evaluations of economic institutions: How do we (and should we) evaluate institutions from a moral point of view? How does this focus on institutions relate to ethical evaluations of individual actions (as is typical in business ethics)? How does this type of reflection relate to economic, sociological and political evaluations of the same institutions?

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Call for papers

Workshop: “Sovereignty of the Market, or Sovereignty over the Market?”

23-25 January 2013 in Leiden (The Netherlands)

Deadline abstracts (300 words): October 1st, 2012.

This interdisciplinary workshop explores the hypothesis that the financial breakdown and the Euro-crisis raise a question of political legitimacy. The dependence of states on market actors, as well as supra- national regimes, challenges the idea of state sovereignty, which is central to theories of political legitimacy and authority. Perhaps regulatory regimes are not so much instruments of state intervention in the economy, but part of a political-economic constellation of power. Here, the question of political legitimacy – articulated most vocally by the “Occupy” movement – arises with respect to the political order as such. We do not just need to think about the intervention of the state in the economy, but we need to rethink the relation between state and economy at the most fundamental level. This workshop focuses on three core issues: 1) What is the nature of the interrelation between state and economy? How should the state-economy nexus be conceptualized? 2) What challenges does the paradox of regulation pose to some of the most fundamental concepts of political theory: i.e. those of sovereignty, legitimacy, and authority? 3) What are the institutional implications of the paradox of regulation? How should democracy be reconceived in relation to pressures from the economy? What forms of political agency are available? And how can state regulation of markets be legitimate? Philosophers, political scientists, legal scholars, and others working in a relevant field are invited to submit a 300 word abstract before October 1st to one of the email adresses below. For a longer description of this workshop click here.

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