Resisting and Contesting Institutional Failures. Citizens and Public Servant Perspectives

June 6, 2024 - June 7, 2024
Department of Philosophy and Religion, Northeastern University

Boston 02115
United States

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University of British Columbia
Tufts University


Northeastern University

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Resistance to and contestation of such institutional failures as injustice, illegitimacy, and corruption play crucial roles in shaping the life of a polity. Philosophers have extensively discussed the conceptual and normative contours of different forms of resistance and contestation, such as principled (civil and uncivil) disobedience, direct action, rioting, conscientious objection, whistleblowing. However, the vast majority of such discussions have concentrated on the justification of the rights and duties of resistance and contestation of citizens. A lesser attention has been devoted to the rights and duties of resistance and contestation of public servants.

The conference welcomes contributions that variably investigate forms of internal or external reactions to institutional failures, shed light on the (remedial) duties of the members of dysfunctional institutions, explore the impact of institutional dysfunctions for the quality of institutional action (e.g., institutional trustworthiness) and/or explore the emotional landscape such dysfunctions may elicit. 

We welcome submissions from junior philosophers (max 5 years after PhD) addressing different aspects of citizens’ and public servants’ resistance to and contestation of institutional failure from an analytical, normative, or critical point of view.

 Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

·       Comparative conceptual and normative accounts of citizens’ and public servants’ resistance

·       Conceptual discussions of political resistance and its instances

·       Resistance’s role and function in the public institutional context

·       Normative attitudes towards resistance and (unlawful) contestation

·       Resistance: moral right or moral duty?

·       Resistance, contestation and institutional and professional obligations

·       Practical emotions and resistance’s affective dimension

Submitting a proposal:

1. Prepare an extended abstract as an attachment in MS Word or a .pdf (500-1000 words, including selected bibliography). The abstract should be suitable for blind review.

2. Include in the body of the email relevant contact information: the author(s), department(s) and affiliation(s), mailing address(es), email address(es); and phone number(s) and declaration of the status of junior scholar (PhD +5years max)

3. Email the abstract and contact information to Marta Giunta Martino at [email protected] 17:00 UTC, Friday 8 Dec. 2023.

Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by mid-January 2024. The conference will provide all attending invited participants with refreshments and offer suggestions for area lodging. No financial contribution to travel and accommodation / living costs can be offered. There is no conference fee.

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