CFP: Perspectives of Paternalism in a Democratic Society

Submission deadline: June 10, 2021

Conference date(s):
October 22, 2021 - October 23, 2021

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Conference Venue:

Department of Philosophy, Palacký University Olomouc
Olomouc, Czech Republic

Topic areas


Recently, the victorious march of liberal democracy that seemed unstoppable in the 1990s has slowed down to a crawl, with some of its gains reverted. Populism with authoritarian features is on the rise in many regions of the world, including the traditional democratic strongholds. We have witnessed a steep increase in political polarization, a decline of trust in the epistemic authorities, and an unprecedented spread of ‘fake news’ and conspiracy theories. The debate on ramifications of the mounting scientific evidence regarding various quirks and imperfections of human rationality has acquired yet greater urgency in such context.

For political philosophy that wants to retain relevance against the backdrop of the democratic crisis, the implications of the empirical reality of limited and context-dependent rationality that makes humans prone to systematic and predictable mistakes in judgment may be rather consequential. Behavioral sciences’ findings pose a significant challenge to any philosophical arguments that rest on armchair views of human cognition. In particular, an intense controversy has been ignited around the paternalist promises to save the citizens from their own self-defeating choices, both private and collective.

Our conference will be dedicated to exploring how behaviorally informed approaches could enrich political thought. We are especially interested in the perspectives of the various forms of paternalism in a democratic society and their compatibility with liberal democratic values. In our view, it remains open whether paternalism, in all its shifts and shapes, represents more hope or hazard for liberal democracy. We welcome any contributions that may help to answer this question.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Normative implications of behavioral sciences’ findings
  • Behaviorally informed institutional reform
  • Libertarian paternalism
  • Epistemic paternalism
  • Compatibility of paternalism with liberal democratic values
  • Naturalization of the epistemic virtues and vices

Keynote speakers

  • Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij (Birkbeck College, University of London)
  • M R. X. Dentith (Beijing Normal University)
  • Till Grüne-Yanoff (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm)
  • Christian Schubert (German University in Cairo)


An abstract of up to 500 words prepared for blind reviewing should be submitted to [email protected]. The expected time frame for each speaker is 25 minutes presentation + 10 minutes Q&A. The conference will be held in a hybrid format that permits both online and in-person attendance. The participation is not subject to a registration fee.

  • Deadline for submissions: June 10, 2021
  • Notification of acceptance: July 10, 2021

Organization committee

Petr Špecián (Prague University of Economics and Business), Filip Tvrdý (Palacký University Olomouc)

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