CFP: Ruling in a Wanton World: Arthur Applbaum’s Work and the Philosophy of Legitimacy Beyond the State

Submission deadline: December 31, 2020

Conference date(s):
July 1, 2021 - July 2, 2021

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

University of Graz, Austria
Graz, Austria

Topic areas



We invite contributions to a workshop on themes from Arthur Applbaum new book, Legitimacy: The Right to Rule in a Wanton World, and new philosophical research on legitimacy more broadly. In his book, Applbaum argues for a “group agency” account of legitimacy, on which government is legitimate if it individually and collectively makes us free. The book also enriches our understanding of many other topics, such as the concept of legitimacy, the conditions for when foreign intervention is permissible, and the role of democracy in justifying power. Applbaum also develops an innovative account of “wanton” government.

Beyond themes from Applbaum’s book, we are also interested in how accounts of legitimacy can contribute to our understanding of inter- and transnational government. . In particular, we are interested in theories of the legitimacy of international institutions such as  international courts, and approaches to legitimacy in the context of global challenges like climate change.

Potential Topics

The conference will be organised in two tracks. Authors can apply for one or both tracks.

The first track concerns themes from Applbaum’s book, Legitimacy: The Right to Rule in a Wanton World. Potential paper topics could be, but are not limited to,

·       Applbaum’s power-liability account and the concept of legitimacy

·       The group agency account of legitimacy

·       Freedom and the foundations of a theory of legitimacy

·       Kantian and Republican accounts of legitimacy (in Applbaum and others)

·       Legitimate foreign intervention

·       Applbaum’s “three tyrannies”

·       “Wanton” government

·       Applications of Applbaum’s arguments to contemporary issues

The second track concerns the philosophy of legitimacy beyond the state. (Authors in this track are encouraged, but not required, to connect their research to Applbaum’s work.) We are particularly interested in the following topics:

·       Conceptually understanding legitimacy beyond the state

·       Group agency and legitimacy beyond the state

·       The legitimacy of international organisations, especially international courts

·       The political legitimacy of responses to climate change

·       Existential threats to humanity and political legitimacy

Journal Issue

The journal Moral Philosophy and Politics is considering a special issue on Applbaum’s book. Authors are encouraged to submit to the special issue. Please note that submissions to the journal are independent from the conference, and will undergo peer review.


 We hope for the conference participants to meet in person. If this is not possible, we will delay the conference to a later date in 2021.


1 January 2021: Submission of a title and brief abstract (less than 500 words)

1 February 2021: Decisions on invited speakers

23 May 2021: Submission of full papers


You can submit a title and an abstract at

Organisers: Matthias Brinkmann (Oslo), Andreas Føllesdal (Oslo), Lukas Meyer (Graz), Anthony Taylor (Oxford)

Supporting material

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