As part of my long-term project to convince political theorists that they can benefit from cooperating with empirical social scientists (see also here), I’ve recently written a paper on an intriguing argument about social justice that I found in the writings of Émile Durkheim, who is widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of sociology. I here present a short summary; the full paper can be found here.
The question of who can speak about what, about whom, with whom and for whom is at the heart of many recent controversies: Who has the right to speak on behalf of disadvantaged groups, e.g. sexual or racial minorities? Who should be invited to speak, e.g. on college campuses, who should be refused a stage? Have speakers with more extreme political positions, e.g. climate change deniers, a right to be listened to?
These issues are so difficult that I can hardly do justice to even just one aspect in this blogpost. And yet, we cannot ignore them – arguably, they go to the heart of what political philosophy is all about. What I want to do is to reflect on two concepts, or metaphors, which have floated around in the debates: “identity politics” and “standpoint epistemology.” They point to deeper assumptions about who can speak for/with/about whom. Making these explicit might help us to move the discussion forward.
Workshop at the University of Durham
22nd and 23rd June 2017
The Durham Centre for Political Thought in collaboration with the Global Politics Masters Programme and Global Policy Institute are set to host a 2 day workshop next week to discuss questions of global justice, democracy, power and legitimacy.
The event ‘Global Justice Meets Global Democracy’ is organised by Elizabeth Kahn and Luke Ulas and will take place on the 22nd and 23rd of June at Elvett Riverside 1 (ER148). The workshop will consist in the presentation of ‘work in progress’ papers given by a number of invited speakers, followed by a pre-prepared responses and broader discussion.
What’s the best way of digesting student teaching evaluations?
This is a difficult question to answer, even for an experienced teacher. Student evaluations can be very helpful and give you a good sense of what is working and what isn’t, and also perhaps what to do about it. But it can be quite upsetting to receive negative feedback especially if it is flippant or personal, as some of it is.
For these reasons, when we received the student evaluations for our first year compulsory political theory module, I emailed my teaching assistants (all PhD students or recent graduates) with some advice.
I am sure there’s lots more good advice I missed out and perhaps there are things that I say here are mistaken. If so I’d be delighted to be further informed about how best to react to feedback and how I might better advise my TAs in particular. But thinking it might have some useful guidance for others, I post a slightly altered version of the email below.
The Hochschule für Politik München (Bavarian School of Public Policy) advertises an interdisciplinary fellowship in “Global Transformations.” It is open to political theorists with an interdisciplinary bend. Details here:
this is a dark day for the European Union. Great Britain has cast its vote, and will part ways from the EU. Both for Great Britain and for the EU, things won’t continue as before. But it is up to us where they go from here.
It is sometimes said that the EU has become a cold and technocratic projects. But the EU is, first and foremost, a project of peace, and peace is a matter of the heart. The EU a project of peaceful cooperation among people who have fight endless wars, for centuries after centuries. It is heart-wrenching to see it falter as it does today, threatened by waves of nationalism and chauvinism, in Great Britain and elsewhere.
Relational egalitarians hold what matters for justice is that all members of a society “stand in relations of equality to others.” The idea that all human beings are moral equals is widely shared: it underlies the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many national constitutions. How will this norm be affected by the arrival of “big data,” the collecting and analysing of huge amounts of data about individuals? Internet companies and government services collect data about individuals’ activities, including geographic locations, shopping behaviour and friendships. Many individuals voluntarily share such information on social media, some also track their physical activities in meticulous details. Experts expect that “people analytics” – big data applied to the measurement of work performance – will have a revolutionary impact on labour markets.