Justice and Beliefs about Justice in Europe

January 18, 2019 - January 19, 2019
ETHOS, Central European University, Budapest

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University of Reading
King's College London
Catholic University of Louvain


Central European University
Utrecht University
Central European University

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Philosophical Workshop on
Justice and Beliefs about Justice in Europe

January 18th-19th, 2019, Central European University (CEU), Budapest, Hungary

Organised as part of the second annual conference of the Horizon2020 research project ETHOS (Towards a European theory of justice and fairness), funded by the European Union.

Keynote speakers

Alice Baderin (Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Reading)

Philippe van Parijs (Special guest professor, University of Louvain and KU Leuven / Robert Schuman Fellow, European University Institute, Florence)

Miriam Ronzoni (Reader in Political Theory, University of Manchester)

Andrea Sangiovanni (Chair in Social and Political Theory, European University Institute, Florence)


Europeans have strongly and, for practical purposes, intractably divergent views about justice. The various European ‘crises’ – for instance the sovereign debt crisis, the refugee crisis, and the crisis of representation that can be seen through rising populism and Euroscepticism – put these differences in the spotlight.

As far as distributive justice is concerned, some hold that Europe should be more ‘social’, and that the EU should try to pursue greater material equality amongst EU citizens and states. Others think that it is an injustice that EU migrants to their country benefit from social welfare provisions, or believe that wealthier, more ‘productive’ member states have no obligation to subsidize other member states struggling with the consequences of high levels of public debt. Distributive justice and injustices have gendered dimensions: austerity policies have disproportionately affected women, and many people believe that women’s gendered labour roles are undervalued and under-rewarded, while others believe “the market” should decide. Similarly, matters of recognitive justice are highly disputed. Europe is divided about how to respond to the so-called refugee crisis, and about whether or how ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities should be accommodated, seen as full members of “the nation”, or granted special protection. Some find misrecognition or under-recognition at the root of much injustice, e.g. of the subordination of women and their burdens as the usual primary carers, or of the history of discrimination against Roma, Asian and Afro-descendants, while others dismiss all “identity politics” as claims not to equality with others but to special treatment. As a struggle of representative justice, the project of European integration has become increasingly questioned, shown both by consistently dropping turnout in elections for the European Parliament (from 61.99% in 1979 to 42.54% in 2014) and by the growing success of nationalist Eurosceptic populism across Europe, not least demonstrated by Britain voting to leave the European Union. And in 2018, women remain under-represented in public life in every European country, while populist leaders like Viktor Orbán have claimed they are not suited to it.

The aim of this workshop is to explore how political philosophers and theorists of justice in Europe should take people’s attitudes and beliefs about justice into account in non-ideal theorizing about justice in Europe. For instance, does the method of reflective equilibrium offer a suitable framework for proceeding in these circumstances? Should theorists “take sides” unapologetically, prioritizing what they regard, on reflection, as the “correct” views about justice? Or are there overriding reasons, perhaps stemming from democratic considerations or from the need for stability, to integrate views we may not agree with into our proposals for how to better realize justice in Europe and the EU? How and to what extent should non-ideal theorizing about justice in Europe aim to change the beliefs of the European public as we find them? The workshop seeks answers to these pressing questions and reflection on related issues.

The three-year, inter-disciplinary ETHOS Horizon2020 research project seeks to formulate the building blocks for a European theory of justice that is normatively sound, reflective of European values, and responsive to empirical data about citizens' views on justice and experiences of injustice.


Bert van den Brink (Dean, University College Roosevelt, and Professor of Political and Social Philosophy, Utrecht University)

Simon Rippon (Associate Professor, Philosophy and School of Public Policy, Central European University)

Tom Theuns (Post-Doctoral Researcher, Utrecht University)

Miklos Zala (Post-Doctoral Researcher, Central European University)

If you wish to give a paper, please submit an abstract of 200-400 words to Miklos Zala: [email protected]

Deadline for abstracts: October 31, 2018

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November 30, 2018, 12:00pm CET

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