CFP: MANCEPT Workshop – The Boundary Problem: Where Do We Stand? New Directions and Challenges

Submission deadline: May 29, 2023

Conference date(s):
September 11, 2023 - September 13, 2023

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This event is available both online and in-person

Conference Venue:

Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT), University of Manchester
Manchester, United Kingdom

Topic areas


Call for Abstracts: MANCEPT Workshop – The Boundary Problem: Where Do We Stand? New Directions and Challenges

11th – 13th September, 2023 / Hybrid


Andre Santos Campos (Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Nova University of Lisbon)

Pablo Magaña (Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Nova University of Lisbon)

How should political power and influence be allocated in democratic systems? In the 1970s, Robert Dahl called this “a problem almost totally neglected by all the greatest philosophers who write about democracy.” In the last decades, though, this question has prompted considerable interest among political philosophers and political scientists, and a substantive body of literature has emerged around what has come to be known as the boundary problem.

Initially, contributions to the boundary problem focused primarily on the inclusion of adult, cognitively unimpaired human beings within or without the state – touching, for instance, on the democratic inclusion of non-citizen residents, and even of some non-residents too. Although these questions remain crucial, theorizing on the boundary problem has taken three new directions as of late. First, it has taken a methodological turn, exploring, for example, the desiderata that an adequate response to the boundary problem should satisfy. Second, it has gone beyond the standard cases, covering non-standard groups – like future generations or nonhuman animals –, and traditionally neglected decision-making sites – such as the workplace. Third, it has suggested alternatives to the two main principles developed in response to the boundary problem (namely, the All Affected and All Subjected Principle), stressing instead criteria of inclusion based on nationality (Miller), citizenship and solidarity (Song), universal moral status (Koenig-Archibugi and List), the role of social membership (Kymlicka) or relational equality (Bengtson).

Finding a satisfactory response to the boundary problem is of relevance for at least two reasons. First, because it would allow us to identify when someone has been objectionably excluded from the demos, a necessary condition for redressing the democratic deficits that follow from wrongful exclusion. Second, and more practically, because it can assist institutional design. In the last two decades, some countries have implemented institutions aimed at representing the interests of future generations (e.g. the Israeli Knesset Commission for Future Generations, or the Welch Future Generations Commissioner) or nonhuman animals (e.g. the UK’s forthcoming Animal Sentience Committee). Similarly, the European Parliament and the ILO have recently called for the democratization of corporations. Properly addressing the boundary problem can guide the efficient distribution of political resources and offer tools to evaluate the success of institutional proposals of the above sort.

This workshop seeks to provide a space for political philosophers and theorists to take stock of those debates and discuss the new trends. Possible contributions might include, but needn’t be limited to:

·        The normative grounds of democratic inclusion (e.g. affectedness, subjectedness, social membership, relational equality, etc.).

·        The methodological aspects of the boundary problem.

·        The extension of principles of democratic inclusion to non-standard collectives and traditionally disregarded decision-making sites.

·        The application of those principles to assess specific institutional proposals.

We invite abstracts of no more than 750 words. Please send your abstract and contact details to: [email protected] by 29th May, 2023. Decisions will be made by 14th June, allowing participants to apply for the bursaries offered by the MANCEPT organizers (the deadline is 27th June).

The workshop will be hybrid. We ask those interest in presenting to let us know whether they would like to participate in person or online.

Upon acceptance, we will ask the speakers to pre-circulate their papers two weeks before the workshop.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any doubt, or would like to have any additional information.

Registration is required (although registration date is not available yet). For registration and details, see:

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