IPSA RC31 (Research Committee on Political Philosophy) Second Conference July 13-17, 2011, Sydney, Australia

The modern era is notable for its emphasis on justice as the idée-clef of political philosophy. Justice has always been the primary virtue of social institutions. Over the last forty years, under the prompting of John Rawls, it has become more pervasive than ever.

Does the moral pluralism of modern societies of itself impose a thin, formal conception of the good society? Does modern pluralism directly preclude some more substantive normative basis for politics? Can political philosophy do no more than identify fair terms of cooperation that accommodate each individual’s pursuit of his or her specific conception of the good life? Is such a formal conception of the good society adequate? Can it motivate moral behavior? Is it too elusive to guide actual decisions?

This broad, modern debate touches on the central problem of articulating justice so as to (a) embrace the fact of modern plurality, without (b) falling into an abstract idealism far removed from the concrete, practical contexts in which justice must apply.

The Research Committee on Political Philosophy (RC31) of The International Political Science Association (IPSA) seeks to contend with this difficulty by relating justice to the main ideas underpinning modern society: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity - in the language of 1789. ‘Fraternity’ is today more commonly formulated as ‘solidarity’ or ‘community’, and earlier, among the Ancients, as ‘friendship’ (philia, amicitia, agape, caritas, eros, etc.).

IPSA RC31 is sponsoring a cycle of three conferences:
The First (2010) was held in Jena, Germany on the relation of justice to liberty.

The Second (2011) is being held in Sydney, Australia on Justice and Equality (13-17 July). The Sydney conference is hosted by Macquarie University and jointly sponsored by Macquarie and Sydney Universities. It is also backed by CRISPP (Critical Review of International Social & Political Philosophy) and The Journal of Political Philosophy.

The Third (2012) conference will attend to questions of Justice and Fraternity.

Proposals are now invited for the SYDNEY conference. All papers should attend to the relation of justice to equality, whether the approach is normative or empirical, analytical or historical.

Please send a preliminary abstract of no more than one page, and no later than 1 November, 2010 to Prof. Preston King pking@morehouse.edu, Chair of RC31, and to the local organizer, Prof. Stephanie Lawson Stephanie.lawson@mq.edu.au.