Collective Action: Ontology, Ethics, and Application

September 8, 2016 - September 9, 2016
Manchester Centre for Political Theory

Arthur Lewis Building, University of Manchester
United Kingdom

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Kendy Hess
College of the Holy Cross
Violetta Igneski
McMaster University
Tracy Isaacs
University of Western Ontario

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To understand and address staggering global problems such as environmental degradation, global poverty and the recent refugee crisis, we must look beyond the role of individual agents. Moreover, we need a deeper understanding of the ontological and normative status of the collective entities implicated in the creation, amelioration, and possible eradication of these harms before we can develop appropriate ethical frameworks and practical responses. The recent literature on collective action and collective intention has already made significant progress in developing conceptual frameworks for understanding groups such as corporations and goal-oriented collectives as collective agents that can be held morally responsible for their actions. It is time to consider further related questions and add depth and breadth to this debate.

This workshop seeks to advance the current moral and political debate in collective action and responsibility in two ways: first, by bringing in new theoretical, disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches and second, by engaging with an expanded range of questions and practical applications.

Ontology: We seek papers that examine broader questions in the ontology of collective entities. What is the ontological status of a collective entity? What grounds their moral obligations (if “grounding” is the appropriate framework)? Normatively, what follows from the ontology?

Ethics: We aim to move beyond the canonical approaches to include a plurality of frameworks and perspectives, such as feminist, virtue ethics, Eastern, and Continental.

Application: We encourage submissions that test developed theoretical models against the complexities of real world situations. To date, theoretical development has relied on scattered caricatures of application to help explain and demonstrate the theoretical commitments, but there has been little sustained empirical work. The literature has already begun to move out into the practical field, and we hope to engage with the scholars doing that work. We seek papers that address some of these real-world applications, such as climate change, humanitarian aid, or the differential impact of global economic structures.

Submission: Please submit a 500-1000 word abstract to Kendy Hess ([email protected]) by June 1, 2016.

Final papers of approximately 4000 words are due by August 15 in order to circulate to workshop participants in advance of the workshop. Authors will be given 15 minutes to give an overview of their papers followed by 35 minutes of discussion. We expect to accept twelve papers.

We are in conversation with an academic press about publishing a collection of essays on this topic, and will be using the workshop as an opportunity to solicit papers for the volume.

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September 8, 2016, 5:00am BST

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