Ideals and Reality in Social Ethics 2013

March 19, 2013 - March 21, 2013
Social Ethics Research Group, University of Wales, Newport

Caerleon Campus
Newport NP18 3QT
United Kingdom

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Seyla Benhabib
Yale University
Geoffrey Hawthorn
Cambridge University
Andrew Sayer
Lancaster University


Gideon Calder
University of Wales, Newport
University of Amsterdam

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Theorists are expert at theorising. Should they also be expert at negotiating the challenges of practice? Should practitioners and policymakers listen to them? Or is it best that these two realms are kept at a healthy distance?

A sequel to the successful event of the same name held last April, this conference will explore relations between normative theorising and critique, and the 'real worlds' of social and political practice. We welcome both papers which address the nature and practical relevance of political, social and moral theory, and papers applying such theory to issues of current social concern. At last year's conference, topics covered in the 80 papers ranged from ideal vs non-ideal theory; 'ethics-first' vs 'politics-first' political philosophy; how to apply concepts from ethical and political theory in the context of government policy consultations, equality, models of good parenting, environmental politics, multiculturalism, democracy, EU citizenship, education, professional ethics, war and terrorism, and basic income policies.

Again, the conference aims to attract academics, activists, practitioners and others with an interest in the relationship between ideals and the concrete demands and possibilities of social life. Key themes and questions will include:

  • (how) do theoretical insights actually enhance practice?
  • ideal vs. non-ideal theory
  • the relationship between political ideas and the reality of political practice
  • the relationship between ethical codes and actual practice, e.g. in professional contextsare notions of 'reality' and ‘practice’ always inherently contested?
  • the relationship between descriptive and normative approaches to the study of politics and society
  • the relationship between theory and activism

We particularly welcome proposals of themed panels of 3 papers, and will be happy to consult on the development of ideas in this regard.

Deadline for proposals of papers (300 words) and panels (including a brief description and any paper proposals already solicited): 30 November 2012. Send submissions to [email protected]

Registration will open in January 2013, with a non-residential fee expected to be £100, plus optional conference dinner.

Subsidised places will be available for postgraduate students and those without institutional financial support.

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January 7, 2013, 9:00am BST

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Oxford University
University of Amsterdam

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