The Business Corporation as Political Actor – Comparative Theoretical Perspectives

November 24, 2021 - November 26, 2021

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Utrecht University
Utrecht University

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Call for Papers: Online Conference, Utrecht University

The Business Corporation as Political Actor – Comparative Theoretical Perspectives

November 24-26th,  2021

On account of their power, influence, and role in social life, business corporations are an important subject in moral, social and political philosophy. While economic theories of the firm and legal theories of incorporation are well-established, philosophers are only now beginning to devote serious attention to the corporation’s political status. An important part of this effort should be comparative. Since corporate power has a global reach, connecting the actions and fates of people across state borders, a global perspective is necessary. How is the corporation—or economic agency generally—conceived in African, Asian, and Islamic philosophical traditions? How do those traditions theorize the relation between economic and political power? If the corporation is a group agent, how can non-Western understandings of socially-embedded personhood illuminate its normative standing? Those traditions are rooted in regions that have been affected differently over the centuries by corporate action: how do those differences bear on present ideas about the power of corporations, and the conditions of capitalism more broadly?

Our 3-day online workshop will focus on these and related questions. This workshop aims to facilitate dialogue among political theorists of different cultural traditions reflecting on the business corporation. We invite abstract submissions from scholars working on relevant issues from African, Asian, or Islamic philosophical perspectives.  Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • African, Asian, and Islamic theories of the business corporation (its duties, obligations, virtues, etc.).
  • Comparative theories of economic power, and/or the way economic power relates to political power and sovereignty.
  • Comparative theories of legitimacy and political authority, as these apply to the business corporation or business-state relationships.
  • Non-Western conceptions of (distributive) justice and responsibility, as these apply to businesses, e.g. in the fair treatment of workers, local communities, suppliers, and other stakeholders.
  • Comparative theories of personhood and their relevance to corporate agency.

There are two kinds of papers that can be delivered at the workshop; either: (1) a longer paper, of approximately 4000 words, or (2) a shorter discussion piece, of approximately 2000 words.

To apply, please send a brief abstract (250 words), indicating whether it is to be a longer or shorter paper, to [email protected]. Please indicate in the subject line of the email “CCT workshop abstract”. The deadline for submissions is: September 1, 2021.

The workshop is organized by Rutger Claassen, Chi Kwok, and Tully Rector. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Tully Rector ([email protected]) .  The workshop is part of the research project The Business Corporation as a Political Actor, sponsored by the European Research Council (ERC). See

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Custom tags:

#Comparative Political Theory, #Business Corporation