CFP: MANCEPT Workshop: Panel on the Agents of Justice

Submission deadline: May 29, 2019

Conference date(s):
September 9, 2019 - September 11, 2019

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Conference Venue:

Department of Philosophy, University of Manchester
Manchester, United Kingdom

Topic areas


CFP: MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory 2019 (Sept. 9-11), Panel on the Agents of Justice

Date: Sept. 9th to 11th 2019

Location: University of Manchester

Convenor: Colin Hickey (Utrecht University)

In this workshop we will be considering questions about the so-called “agents of justice.” That is, who bears responsibility for realizing justice, and what does that responsibility consist in across the different relevant agents? Much of contemporary political philosophy (whether targeted domestically or globally) operates with the understanding that the state bears primary responsibility for realizing justice. That focus itself is, of course, controversial, but it also shouldn’t mask any of the other important questions that matter both theoretically, and concretely as we are confronted with the challenges of transitioning towards justice in the real world.

For one, even if confined to thinking about the state as the locus of primary responsibility for justice, much of the work relevant for concrete action-guidance requires us to answer questions about how such responsibility distributes down among sub-state actors. What might individuals, agencies, cities, counties, etc. be required to do in light of duties for which the state is the primary bearer? What sorts of relationships of dependence and influence hold between the range of collective individual agents that have a stake in how the responsibility is distributed?

Furthermore, states engage in all manner of illegitimate behavior, and across the world are some of the primary perpetuators of injustice. Perhaps, of course, the state (or some of its various component parts) simply bears responsibility to correct itself. However, at least in the non-ideal world relevant to so many of our normative interests, it is valuable (perhaps even necessary) to think carefully about the range of other agents that hold states accountable, that pick up the slack or fill the gaps. It is certainly already part of the self-conceptions of a wide swath of other actors that they are crucially important agents of justice—whether activists, peace-builders, human rights organizations, NGOs, corporations and investors, charities, private philanthropy, investigative journalists, etc. So, in this workshop we hope to ask and shed light on questions about what sorts of duties, rights, and permissions do such agents have in the pursuit of justice? What forms of civil disobedience and resistance movements can be justified and in what contexts? What are the benefits and risks in offloading the pursuit of justice from the state to such a tapestry of actors?

Similarly, in the modern world, many non-state entities (and individuals) wield substantial power and, to borrow Rawls’ terminology, profoundly and pervasively affect the life prospects of people the world over (Google, Amazon, Facebook, and multinational corporations across all industries). So, we hope in this workshop to explore how theorizing carefully about these facts of globalization and concentrations of wealth and power outside the state affects questions about which agents bear what duties to realize justice.

We invite submissions to the workshop that address any of the above, or related, issues about the complex terrain regarding questions about the agents of justice.

In order to apply, please send a 500 word abstract, prepared for anonymous review, to Please include author details in the body of the email. The deadline for submissions is May 29th. Notification of acceptances will be sent by June 5th. Speakers will have 20 minutes to present and 40 minutes for discussion.


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