The Value of [In-]Security

July 28, 2015 - July 30, 2015
Universität Tübingen


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The – perceived, expressed and sometimes imposed or insinuated – need for more and more security has been increasingly shaping the political and societal systems. It seems to have pervaded almost every sphere of life. New security technologies are developed and implemented for surveillance, identification, access, tracking, targeting and much more. The “quantified self” is framed by discourses that moralize practices like smoking and unhealthy eating, both under the auspices of avoiding risk and hence securing individual health as well as reducing societal costs. The digitalized life strives – as primary or secondary object – to eliminate known insecurities and at the same time creates new ones. And knowledge finds itself more often than not in the realm of (epistemic) security, insecurity, uncertainty and risk, where the uncertainty of knowledge or “truth” is the secure common ground.

The International Centre for Ethics (IZEW) is organizing an international conference on The Value of [In-]Securit. The conference opens up the whole realm of “value”-related questions on (in)security. It will explore the explicit or implicit contradictions or dialectics between

·         dominant discourses which establish security as an important value (or precondition for developing and preserving values) and

·         less dominant discourses which deal with the complexity of „security“, its possible side effects and the question whether „insecurity“ could be considered a value (or precondition for developing and preserving values).

The conference will investigate these contradictory lines of thought and fields of practices. It aims at an ethical analysis of the value(s) of both insecurity as well as security in different contexts and will address, e.g., the following questions:

·         What role does security and insecurity play in fields like education, technology, crime prevention and counter terrorism, media, food, health, and many more? What are the driving forces and the respective consequences of securitization processes? Which “security moralities” can be found with different actor constellations and what could be an adequate ethical analysis?

·         How are concepts of security directed against harmful interventions from outside (in the extreme: terror attacks) and concepts of security assuring the stability of social, economic or status needs intertwined? 

·         What are the blind spots in current visions of security? 

·         Has security become a fetish in already very secure societies? If yes: What are the political, societal, technological, economical or ethical implications?

·         What is the value of security in situations and societies which are blatantly insecure?

·         What is the role of security for individuals or groups who are discriminated against and thus in special need of security while at the same time some of them are perceived as security risks? 

·         Can insecurity be considered a value? How do the meanings and practices of security change if security is perceived in opposition to concepts like vulnerability, uncertainty, exposure, openness? 

·         What are the – epistemic, cultural, societal and moral – values of security? 

·         What is the role of application-oriented ethics in defining the need for security and insecurity?

Conference language is English.

A peer-reviewed publication of conference contributions is planned. 

The values of (in)security shall be explored employing different formats of interaction: We will try to bring the conference not only to the lecture hall but also into the public space the city of Tübingen offers: There could be the chance to lecture about insecurity while punting on the river Neckar. Or to think about security in Hölderlin’s tower. Further ideas and suggestions for unusual formats are welcome.

We have a small budget for travel grants especially for doctoral students and early career researchers. Please indicate in case of necessity.

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