Justice and Legitimate Expectations

June 29, 2016 - July 1, 2016
Department of Philosophy, University of Graz

SZ 15.22 (Bauteil G2)
Universitätsstraße 15
Graz 8010

View the Call For Papers

Selected speakers:

Arthur Applbaum
Harvard University
Stefan Arnold
University of Graz
Alexander Brown
University of East Anglia
Fergus Green
London School of Economics
Wilfried Hinsch
University of Cologne
Rahul Kumar
Queen's University
Matthew Matravers
University of York
David Miller
Oxford University
Margaret Moore
Queen's University
Adriana Placani
University of Graz
Tim Waligore
Pace University
Ivo Wallimann-Helmer
University of Zürich


Lukas Meyer
University of Graz
Thomas Pölzler
University of Graz
Pranay Sanklecha
University of Graz

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Both the plans that people make and their success depend on the expectations people have about the future. When these expectations are frustrated, they therefore often suffer harm as a result of the frustration of the plans, or because they would have adopted a different plan had they known that their expectations would not come true. At least prima facie the normative relevance of harm caused by the frustration of expectations differs sharply. When I promise my friend to pick him up at the airport but then do not show up, I owe him an explanation, or an apology, or some other form of compensation. His expectation of me picking him up was legitimate. A thief’s expectation to get away with his theft, in contrast, does not seem normatively relevant. It is illegitimate. So far little work has been done on how to systematically distinguish legitimate from illegitimate expectations. One intuitive and promising way of drawing the distinction is in terms of justice. According to Allan Buchanan, for example, expectations are legitimate if they are just, and illegitimate if they are unjust. This workshop aims at advancing our understanding of legitimate expectations, and in particular of legitimate expectations’ relation to justice.

Questions that are addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • How can we systematically distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate expectations?
  • What is the connection between the justice of an expectation and its legitimacy? For instance, do criteria of justice determine which expectations are legitimate or do we use some other standard?
  • Do legitimate expectations constrain justice in some way, for example, in what justice demands, or in how we transition to an ideally just situation?
  • Must we allow for some unjust expectations being legitimate; and if yes, under which circumstances? For example, how does the obtaining of (particular) non-ideal conditions affect the legitimacy of expectations?
  • What does disagreement about (particular issues of) justice imply for the legitimacy of (particular) expectations?
  • What is the normative relevance of harm caused by the frustration of (particular) legitimate expectations?

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