Judicial Legitimacy and the Rule of Law

The Venice Academy of Human Rights will take place from 7-16 July 2014 on the topic “Judicial Legitimacy and the Rule of Law”. The faculty includes Paul Mahoney (distinguished opening lecture), Gráinne de Búrca (general course), Philip Alston, Andreas Føllesdal, Geir Ulfstein, Jeremy Waldron and Michael Zürn.
The Venice Academy of Human Rights 2014, in co-operation with PluriCourts – Centre of Excellence for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order, will discuss questions of judicial legitimacy and challenges to the rule of law from a multi-disciplinary perspective. The course aims at academics, practitioners, PhD/JSD and master students.
Applications are accepted until 4 May 2014 with an early-bird discount until 15 March 2014.

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Bottlenecks: A New Theory of Equal Opportunity

I’m pleased to report that my book, Bottlenecks: A New Theory of Equal Opportunity, is out!  Here is the abstract (followed by the blurbs):

Joseph Fishkin, Bottlenecks: A New Theory of Equal Opportunity

Equal opportunity is a powerful idea, and one with extremely broad appeal in contemporary politics, political theory, and law. But what does it mean? On close examination, the most attractive existing conceptions of equal opportunity turn out to be impossible to achieve in practice, or even in theory. As long as families are free to raise their children differently, no two people’s opportunities will be equal; nor is it possible to disentangle someone’s abilities or talents from her background advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, given different abilities and disabilities, different people need different opportunities, confounding most ways of imagining what counts as “equal.”

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CFP: The Buck Stops Where? Responsibility in the global economy

University College London

CFP: The Buck Stops Where? Responsibility in the global economy

Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth Ashford (St Andrews)

On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza factory complex in Savar, Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,127 people. This is the worst incident in a long history of fires and building collapses in sweatshops. When such disasters occur, responsibility ascriptions are notoriously complex and clumsy. In this case the factory owners were held criminally responsible. But moral responsibility was ascribed to many other agents, from the Bangladeshi government for failing to implement proper labour standards, to multinational clothing companies who bought clothes made in the factory, to individual consumers of the products.

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CFP: Rethinking Political Catholicism, Rome, May 22-23, 2014

Although the study of religion and politics has blossomed over the past decade, the normative debates over the appropriate place of religion in modern democracies often remain divorced from the study of the actual practices and meanings of religion in these democracies. Rethinking Political Catholicism aims to bridge this divide by focusing on the fertile case of political Catholicism in Italy. Empirically, the conference aims to take stock of political Catholicism in Italy today, compare it with Catholic and Muslim politics elsewhere, and use contemporary theoretical and normative insights to better understand its post-secular dynamics. Normatively, the conference aims to evaluate the practices of contemporary political Catholicism in Italy and elsewhere, and thus contribute to developing a more sophisticated debate about the proper roles of religious politics in contemporary democracies.

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First Steps Toward a Nonideal Theory of Justice

I am happy to announce that my article “First Steps Toward a Nonideal Theory of Justice” has been accepted for publication at Ethics & Global Politics. Here is the abstract:

Theorists have long debated whether John Rawls’ conception of justice as fairness can be extended to nonideal (i.e. unjust) social and political conditions, and if so, what the proper way of extending it is. This paper argues that in order to properly extend justice as fairness to nonideal conditions, Rawls’ most famous innovation – the original position – must be reconceived in the form of a “nonideal original position.” I then systematically construct a nonideal original position, showing that although its parties must have Rawls’ principles of ideal justice and priority relations as background aims, the parties should be otherwise entirely free to weigh those aims against whatever burdens and benefits they might face under nonideal conditions. Next, I show that the parties ought to aim to secure for themselves a special class of “nonideal primary goods”: all-purpose goods similar to Rawls’ original primary goods, but which in this case are all-purpose goods individuals might use to (A) promote Rawlsian ideals under nonideal conditions, (B) weigh Rawls’ principles of ideal justice and priority relations against whatever burdens and benefits they might face under nonideal conditions, and (C) effectively pursue their most favored weighting thereof. Finally, I defend a provisional list of nonideal primary goods, and briefly speculate on how the parties to the nonideal original position might deliberate to principles of nonideal justice for distributing them.

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2014 Montreal Political Theory Manuscript Workshop Award Winner

The Groupe de recherche en philosophie politique de Montréal (GRIPP) is pleased to announce the 2014 winner of the Annual Montreal Political Theory Manuscript Workshop Award: “A Commitment to Equality: The Rule of Law in the Real World,” by Paul Gowder of the College of Law, University of Iowa. A workshop on the manuscript will be held in Montreal on May 19, 2014.

Le Groupe de recherche en philosophie politique de Montréal (GRIPP) a le plaisir d’annoncer le gagnant du Prix annuel de l’atelier de manuscrit de philosophie politique de Montréal (2014): « A Commitment to Equality: The Rule of Law in the Real World » par Paul Gowder du College of Law, University of Iowa. Un atelier sur le manuscrit aura lieu à Montréal le 19 mai 2014.

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Hospitality Now (!): One-day conference, Paris (Sciences Po), July 1st, 2014

“Hospitaliy Now (!)” has two significations: one, what is the current state of scholarship regarding the thematisation of hospitality in political theory/science/philosophy? While work continues apace on hospitality all around the world, some of the key texts—one might think of Of Hospitality by Jacques Derrida, or the work of Seyla Benhabib—are now some years old, and it seems useful to assess where the current thinking is at, both taking into account and moving beyond these canonical texts on the subject.

The second signification is the ever-present urgency around questions of hospitality. Whether it be the sans-papiers in France or across Europe, and the people drowning on their way to Lampedusa, or asylum-seekers drowning in the Indian Ocean between Indonesia and Australia, the ethics of hospitality dominate political agendas, especially in developed nations. The questions press upon us, the call of the vulnerable arrest our attention, as if they cried out: hospitality now!

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CFP – 12th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy

On the 18th and 19th of September 2014, the Department of Political and Social Sciences, University of Pavia (Italy), under the joint patronage of the Italian Society for Political Philosophy and the Italian Society for Analytic Philosophy, will host the twelfth edition of the Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy. This two-day conference is meant to offer graduate students an opportunity to present papers, get helpful feedback in a friendly atmosphere, and exchange ideas both with peers and with leading academics in the field of political philosophy. In addition to parallel sessions devoted to students’ presentations, there will also be two plenary sessions. Plenary speakers in past editions have been: Hillel Steiner, Anna Elisabetta Galeotti, Peter Jones, Gianfrancesco Zanetti, Jonathan Wolff, Michele Nicoletti, Philippe Van Parijs, Sebastiano Maffettone, Giovanni Giorgini, Andrew Williams, David Miller, Alessandro Ferrara, Valeria Ottonelli, Adam Swift, Gerald Gaus, Serena Olsaretti, Thomas M. Scanlon, Philip Pettit. This year’s keynote speakers will be:

Carla Bagnoli (Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia)

Thomas Christiano (University of Arizona)

Graduate students interested in giving papers should send their contributions (max 2500/3000 words – in English) accompanied by a short abstract (max 300 words – in English), by Sunday 27th April 2014. Papers may focus on any area within political philosophy, and presentations should take no longer than twenty minutes to allow at least another twenty minutes of discussion. Please note that the 27th of April is also the deadline for registration for anyone who wishes to attend the conference without presenting a paper.

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Final CFP: ECPR 2014 – Global Food, Global Justice

European Consortium for Political Research

8th General Conference
University of Glasgow
3th – 6th September 2014


Panel on

Global Food, Global Justice

 Panel Chair: Mary C. Rawlinson (Stony Brook University)

Section: The Political Theory of Food& Drink Policies

Section Chairs: Emanuela Ceva (University of Pavia), Matteo Bonotti (Queen’s University Belfast)

Obesity is a well-recognized public health problem in High Income Countries. Health care interventions frequently focus on personal responsibility, while discounting the way individual agency is shaped by a culture of possibilities. Health strategies and policies addressing obesity rarely focus on the complicity of the state and agribusiness in constraining choice or on the the strong link between obesity and lower socio-economic status. What policies in HICs would alter the culture of possibilities to promote healthy eating? How might the current infrastructures for the production, distribution, and consumption of food be reconfigured to insure a more just access to healthy food?

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FINAL CFP: Social Contract Theory: Past, Present, and Future



Social Contract Theory: Past, Present, and Future

University of Lisbon, 15th-16th May 2014


Social contract theories are typically philosophical attempts to explain the origins of society and the legitimacy of political institutions over individuals. They are based upon the presupposition that society and its connecting political structures are formed by an agreement (or a set of agreements) whose contracting parties are individuals.

The last few decades, however, have witnessed the appearance of serious challenges to the idea of the social contract. International organizations, transnational corporations, lobbyists, investment funds, and ONG’s (all of which are neither individuals nor parties to social contracts) seem quite often more capable than actual individuals or elected representatives of influencing political decision-making processes. Moreover, the network structure of human relations provided by globalization makes it possible for individuals to establish more intense connections with individuals who are not parties to the same contractual cohesive model rather than with fellow citizens.

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Summer Course: Human Rights, International law, and Cosmopolitanism (HIC), Oslo, 16-20 June 2014

In this intensive summer Ph.D. course at the University of Oslo an international team of experts explores the philosophical foundation of human rights and the legitimacy of the institutions that establish them in practice. Topics include the nature of human rights, the legitimacy of international courts and political institutions, intervention and the limits of sovereignty, cosmopolitanism, and the prospects for democracy in an international order.

The course is co-organized by the Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas (UiO), MultiRights: The Legitimacy of Multi-Level Human Rights Judiciary, PluriCourts: Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order (UiO), and the Norwegian Kant Society.

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Debating ‘Transitional Cosmopolitanism’ through Courts, University of Oslo, 3-4 March 2014

Sangerhall – Håndverkeren Kurs- og Konferansesenter  –  Rosenkrantzgate 7, 0159, Oslo Norwegian Centre for Human Rights- University of Oslo (NCHR-TAG- Human Rights and Conflict) Norwegian Resource Bank for Democracy and Human Rights – NORDEM Democracy as Idea and Practice Programme – University of Oslo MultiRights Project, European Research Council Advanced Grant #269841 at the University of Oslo

During the last decades, cosmopolitan justice has become one of the major fields of multidisciplinary research. Mostly starting from various reinterpretations of Kant’s Perpetual Peace, theories about cosmopolitan justice have emphasized either the relevance of centralized agencies, or have combined – alternatively – nation-state approaches showing a ‘universalist’ scope. Issues concerning the advancement of a cosmopolitan condition have also involved the role of the global civil society, civil disobedience and social activists and so on. Yet, little weight has been given to the assessment of the role of courts, either at the local or at the international level in the promotion of a “cosmopolitan law”. This flaw may reflect a deep scholarly divergence in understanding the multi-faced aspects of post-national law, either regional (i.e. EU), international or – still in progress – cosmopolitan.  Particularly in this latter case, the ever growing influence of international  courts in adjudicating individual and state behaviors (as in the case of the ICJ and the ICC) requires the clarification of what is the philosophical and legal significance, if any, of cosmopolitan law.

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“Thinking outside the Cage: Towards a Nonspeciesist Paradigm for Scientific Research” A Conference to be held at Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada, March 27-28, 2014

“Thinking outside the Cage: Towards a Nonspeciesist Paradigm for Scientific Research”
A Conference to be held at Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada, March 27-28, 2014

Scientific research is currently governed on the premise that humans have a right to use sentient animals as subjects of harmful research for our benefit. What would a non-speciesist alternative look like?  We have invited leading scientists, public policy experts, humane educators, legal scholars and political theorists to help us identify the opportunities and challenges involved in pursuing a new ethical, legal and political framework regarding animals in research. Can the same legal and regulatory safeguards regarding the use of human subjects in research also be extended to animal subjects? Can questions regarding the treatment of animals within academic institutions be reframed as matters of public responsibility, and made subject to democratic deliberation by the larger community? This conference is intended to encourage critical reflection on the limits of existing regulations, and to inspire creative thinking about alternative frameworks and effective avenues to change. The conference is organized by the Animals in Philosophy, Politics, Law and Ethics program at Queen’s University, Kingston (www.queensu.ca/philosophy/varia/APPLE.html). Funding is generously provided by the Abby Benjamin Fellowship program, and the Queen’s Forum for Philosophy and Public Policy. For further information, including a preliminary schedule and list of confirmed speakers, and a registration form, please visit the conference website:  www.outsidethecage.net

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CFP ‘Injustice’ ALSP 2014 Conference, 1-2 July, Leeds, UK

CFP: ALSP 2014 Annual Conference – 1-2 July – University of Leeds

Association for Legal and Social Philosophy

2014 Annual Conference: 1st-2nd July


School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds Local organisers: Kerri Woods and Derek Edyvane


Theme: Injustice

Keynote plenary speakers:  Jennifer Saul (Sheffield) and

Jeff Spinner-Halev (North Carolina, Chapel Hill)



Papers are welcome in any substantive area of legal, social, or political philosophy (justice, democracy, rights, liberalism, communitarianism, punishment, etc) and from any philosophical methodological approach, but we particularly welcome those addressing the conference theme. Research into theories of justice has been exhaustively pursued within political philosophy in recent decades, but research on the distinctiveness of theories of injustice is an emerging field. Papers addressing the theme might examine the idea of injustice directly, or might engage with particular issues or instances of injustice.

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MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory 2014: 2nd Call for Convenors

The MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory 2014 is an annual conference in political theory, organised under the auspices of the Manchester Centre for Political Theory. This year’s conference will be the eleventh event in the series and will take place on Monday 8th September until Wednesday 10th September at the Arthur Lewis Building, University of Manchester. Over the last ten years, participants from over twenty five countries have come together in a series of workshops focussing on political theory/philosophy widely construed. Last year the workshops had more than 200 delegates attending, and the conference is now established as a leading international forum dedicated to the discussion of research in political theory.

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Call for Papers: Free Speech, Public Deliberation, and Global Affairs, University of Tromsø, 17-19 June, 2014

The Pluralism, Democracy, and Justice Research Group

invites you to the conference


Free Speech, Public Deliberation, and Global Affairs

17–19 June 2014

University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway


Keynote speakers:

Andreas Føllesdal (University of Oslo)

Carol C. Gould (City University of New York)

David Held (Durham University)

Andrew March (Yale University)

Christian F. Rostbøll (University of Copenhagen)



Submission deadline: 15 March 2014

The aim of the conference is to provide a robust forum for exploring contemporary problems of democratic deliberation and freedom of speech on a local and global level. Special emphasis will be placed on the interplay between democratic legitimacy and freedom of speech.

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Vulnerbility in Context – second call

Second Call for Papers


Vulnerability in Context


Workshop at the University of Ottawa


October 9-10, 2014


Co-Convenors: Patrick Fafard and Christine Straehle,

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa


Vulnerability is a concern of both medical and bioethics, and, increasingly, of public health ethics. It is also a central concern of global justice. However, the concept of vulnerability, what it is and why it is morally salient is under-theorized in all of these fields.


This workshop aims to bring together theorists who work on conceptualizing vulnerability as an action-guiding principle in political and moral philosophy; and bioethicists and public policy theorists working on instances of vulnerability in specific health contexts. The exchanges generated by the workshop will help assess the heuristic value of the concept of vulnerability that is being developed in the context of political theory and moral philosophy.

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Las Torres de Lucca, International Journal of Political Philosophy

We are pleased to announce we have just published number 3 of the Journal of Political Philosophy Las Torres de Lucca, a free-access electronic bilingual magazine. (ISSN 2255-3827).
From now on, we welcome submissions for our next issue of 2014.


- Political and Impolitical: Two Perspectives to Rethink the Common and the Political in Contemporary Thought, Matías Leandro Saidel, pp. 7-34
- Contra Davidson on Counterfeiting, Round Two, Walter E. Block, pp. 35-72
- Los sentidos de la violencia. Cristianismo y Revolución en la Argentina de los sesenta, Daniela Slipak, pp. 73-95
- Los Derechos Humanos desde las víctimas históricas. Análisis crítico desde la ética intercultural de la liberación, Juan Matías Zielinski, pp. 97-137
- Pozo, tierra, mundo. Homenaje a José María Díez-Alegría, Juan Antonio Delgado De la Rosa, pp. 141-159
- FEINMANN, José Pablo (1996), Filosofía y nación, Buenos Aires, Ariel, Ruben H. Ríos, pp. 161-167

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Call for papers – ‘Food and Drink Policies: Paternalism, Free Speech, and Children’, ECPR General Conference

8th ECPR General Conference
University of Glasgow
3th – 6th September 2014

Panel on

Food and Drink Policies, Paternalism, Free Speech, and Children

Panel Chairs: Morten Ebbe Juul Nielsen (Copenhagen University) and Helena Siipi (University of Turku)

Panel Discussant: Garrath Williams (Lancaster University)

Section: The Political Theory of Food & Drink Policies

Section Chairs: Emanuela Ceva (University of Pavia), Matteo Bonotti (Queen’s University Belfast)

Section: The normative implications of food and drink policies have been relatively neglected by contemporary political theorists. This is surprising given the prominent attention dedicated to the regulation of food and drink in the public policy of contemporary states. The recent horsemeat scandal, for example, has raised many moral and political questions regarding the regulation of food consumption. Similarly, measures such as the implementation of taxes on fat foods and sugary drinks have elicited a growing debate on whether the state has the right to interfere with people’s eating and drinking choices. Moreover, there is a well-recognized need to confront different requests for food options (for example at school or workplace) to suit the dietary habits of people belonging to different religious groups and holding different ethical convictions.

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Public Reason 5 (1) available now online [open access peer-reviewed journal]

coperta1-4 Public Reason 5 (1)-021000We are pleased to announce that Public Reason 5 (1) is now available online at


We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

TOC – Public Reason 5 (1):


1. Mikael Dubois

Social Insurance and the Argument from Autonomy

2. Jonathan Grose & Cedric Paternotte

Social Norms: Repeated Interactions, Punishment, and Context Dependence

3. Thomas M. Besch

On Political Legitimacy, Reasonableness, and Perfectionism

4. Shaun P. Young & Triadafilos Triadafilopoulos

Multiculturalism as a Deliberative Ethic

5. Viorel Vizureanu

Some Remarks Concerning the Concept of Glocalization

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