MANCEPT Workshop - Testimony and the Value of Democracy [Online Panel]

September 11, 2023 - September 13, 2023

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University of Arizona

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MANCEPT 2023 Workshop: Testimony and the Value of Democracy

If democracy functions at all, it functions because citizens rely on the testimony of those better informed by them in forming their political opinions. The political issues facing any large-scale democracy are very complex, and forming well-supported beliefs about even a small number of them requires a massive amount of time and effort. In light of this, the only hope citizens have of reliably forming true beliefs on issues relevant to how they ought to vote is by deferring to the testimony of others.

This workshop invites submission of projects that address the relationship between testimony and democratic values. The topics we are interested in discussing include (but are not exhausted by) the following issues:

First, some have worried that the practice of deferring to the testimony of others conflicts with the democratic value of equality. If I rely on your testimony in deciding how to use my political power, doesn’t that mean that you have more political power than I do? Might my reliance on your testimony make me vulnerable to your deception or manipulation, putting you in a position of power over me? And how should a democratic society reckon with the fact that class, race, and gender produce inequalities in one’s ability to have their testimony receive uptake? We welcome submissions which discuss how the practice of giving and receiving testimony could be made compatible with the value of equality.

Second, we may wonder about how the practice of relying on testimony relates to the idea that democracy enables the beliefs and values of its citizens to determine how they are governed. The influence the attitudes of democratic citizens have on their governments is mediated by the testimony they accept. If I form my political views by accepting the testimony of others on various matters, then are my genuine beliefs and values really influencing how I am governed? We welcome submissions which discuss how different testimonial practices may promote or undermine the correspondence between citizens’ attitudes and the decisions of their governments.

Third, we should also consider the way in which testimonial practices can promote or undermine the instrumental justification of democracy. How can the culture and institutions surrounding our testimonial practices best enable democratic societies to reliably arrive at substantively just political decisions? We welcome submissions which describe and evaluate the different social forms testimonial practices may take.

Submission Information:

This workshop will take place entirely online. Each speaker will be allotted 25 minutes for their presentation and 20 minutes for Q&A. If you would like to present at this workshop, please send an abstract of no more than 500 words to [email protected] by June 15, 2023. Please prepare your abstracts for blind review and specify your name and institutional affiliation in the body of the e-mail.

Registration Information:

All participants must register for this conference in order to attend. Registration for the conference opens in May. Fees for attendance are £45.00 for academics, £20.00 for postgraduate students, and £15.00 for non-speaker attendees. There will be a limited amount of fee waiver bursaries made available for current graduate students who have been accepted as presenters. The deadline for fee waiver applications is the 27th of June, and successful applicants will be notified by July 11.


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July 31, 2023, 9:00am UTC

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