CFP: Corporate Agency and the Responsibilities of Citizens and States [Online Panel]

Submission deadline: Today

Conference date(s):
September 7, 2022 - September 9, 2022

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Manchester, United Kingdom


What is the state? Is it a corporate agent? Does it have moral agency? Various philosophers have attempted to answer these questions in recent years. This has led to an increased interest in works at the intersection of social ontology and political philosophy. Today, many philosophers hold that the state is a corporate moral agent (List and Pettit, Erskine, Stilz, Pasternak, Collins and Lawford-Smith). But even if we accept that the state is a moral agent, we can ask some further questions: Who is part of the state agent? Who should we attribute state actions to? Who should be held responsible for these actions? Do the citizens and the state have obligations towards each other? Would our answers to these questions change under different circumstances? In this workshop, we aim to discuss these issues. Holly Lawford-Smith (2019) argues that only the members of the national government are responsible for state actions. According to her, citizens are excluded from this responsibility. By contrast, Avia Pasternak (2021) argues that citizens can be held responsible for state actions if they make genuine intentional contributions to the maintenance of the state. The workshop is predicated on this debate and further expands on it by focusing on a wide range of responsibilities in relation to the state. We welcome contributions to the following questions and related topics:

  1. Who should be the responsibility-bearer for state actions? Should citizens be included or excluded? Should we adopt proportional or nonproportional distribution of state responsibility? Is there a possibility of rejecting or accepting both approaches based on the circumstances?
  2. Do the state and citzens have obligations towards each other? Are there any responsibilities states have to other states? Do citzens have responsibilities to their fellow citizens and/or to the citizens of other states? What would be these responsibilities, if there are any?
  3. Do these responsibilities differ in adverse circumstances such as a coup d’état, pandemics, war, social unrest? If, for example, the state is in a war, can it justifiably relinquish some/all of its responsibilities? How do changes in the form of government affect the moral agency of the state? Are there collective responsibilities of citizens towards their state or to the rest of the world in times of war? What can we learn about the fundamental nature of state and citizen responsibility in light of its articulations in extreme times?
  4. Are there responsibilities of any potential subgroups within the state such as the army, the supreme court, the scientific community? What would these responsibilities include?

Submission Information: We invite scholars to send in their anonymised abstracts of 300-500 words to [email protected] by May 22, 2022. This workshop will take place online. Each speaker will have 30 minutes of presentation and 30 minutes of discussion time. We welcome interdisciplinary contributions. 

Registration Information: Registration for the conference opens in May, and all participants must register in order to attend. This year's fees for online attendance are as follows: Academics £45; Graduate students £20; Non-speaker attendees £15. A small number of fee waiver bursaries (to current graduate students only) will be available. The deadline for bursary applications is the 27th of June. Only people accepted to present on a panel should apply for bursaries.

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