Moral Equality at the Margins

January 28, 2022 - January 29, 2022
Luiss Guido Carli University (Rome); The University of Manchester

United Kingdom

Main speakers:

Central European University
Concordia University
Colorado State University
New York University
University At Albany (SUNY)


Luiss Guido Carli
University of Manchester

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Online Workshop: Moral Equality at the Margins (Accepting Abstracts until 24/10/21)

28th and 29th January 2022

Confirmed Speakers:

Anca Gheaus (CEU) Pablo Gilabert (Concordia), Nikolas Kirby (Harvard), Katie McShane (Colorado) Jeff Sebo (NYU) Ariel Zylberman (SUNY)


Giacomo Floris (LUISS) Matthew Wray Perry (Manchester)


Most theories of justice rest on a commitment to the principle of moral equality, whereby all persons are moral equals and therefore have equal fundamental rights. In recent years, however, several philosophers have pointed out that providing a solid philosophical justification for the principle of moral equality is by no means an easy task. As a result, a growing literature on the question of the basis of equality has emerged. Most contributions focus on the equal moral status of persons, typically understood as fully competent adults who hold a wide range of sophisticated cognitive capacities. Less attention has been devoted to the equal moral status of the various other entities that are commonly considered to fall within the purview of justice – such as, infants, nonhuman animals, future generations, and non-sentient living organisms.
The aim of this conference is to address Moral Equality at the Margins, and therefore contribute to the debate on moral equality in a novel way which cuts across the established discussion. Specifically, we welcome contributions on any of the below related areas:

  • Applied ethics: Can a theory of moral equality address the moral status of infants and the severely cognitively disabled without raising concerns about dehumanization? What properties could ground the equal moral status of humans who are not fully competent adults? How, if at all, could a relational approach – whereby moral equality is not grounded in the possession of a status-conferring property, but in being a participant in morally relevant relationships – better address these issues?
  • Animal ethics: If human and nonhuman animals have equal moral status, how ought we to make sense of this and what does it entail for our duties of justice, given the conclusions that might arise in both distributive and rescue cases? If, instead, human and nonhuman animals do not have equal moral status, what exactly is the morally relevant property that is exclusively held by all humans which provides us with a non-arbitrary reason to affirm the moral superiority of humans over other animals?
  • Intergenerational ethics: How, if at all, does the principle of moral equality apply across generations? What implications are there for our obligations if this principle is accepted? How should our obligations to future persons be understood if instead future generations are not considered to be our moral equals?
  • Environmental ethics: What would it mean to claim that non-sentient living organisms are the moral equals of sentient beings? What conflicts of interests arise if environmental entities have moral consideration, and can a theory of moral equality help to resolve them? How can we determine which beings have priority in these scenarios?

Submission Guidelines:

To apply to present a paper at the workshop, please send an abstract of no more than 1,000 words, prepared for blind review, to [email protected] and/or [email protected] by 24th October 2021. Please include your name, gender, and affiliation in the body of your email. We aim to provide responses no later than 8th November 2021.


The conference will be held online over zoom. Full papers (of no more than 10,000 words) will be pre-circulated two weeks prior to the conference. We aim to allow 5 minutes for introductory remarks, and 55 minutes for Q&A, but this may be subject to change.

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January 14, 2022, 11:00pm BST

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