Ethics for a Broken World

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Ethics for a Broken World
(25-27 November 2016)

Idea and Motivation

The conference is focusing on Timothy Mulgan's book Ethics for a Broken World: Imagining Philosophy after Catastrophe (Routledge, 2014). Prof. Mulgan's book is a highly innovative exploration of our modern concepts in political philosophy. It achieves this aim by looking at our current theories from the viewpoint of a fictional "broken" future, i.e. one in which a climate catastrophe has made life much more difficult for all humankind. It therefore uses the methods of literature, thought experiments (such as Hobbes’ state of nature, Dworkin’s island or Rawls’ veil of ignorance) and scenario building to raise important questions about justice today: how and why should we care about future generations? Is our current political ethics, which Mulgan calls "affluent", sustainable? Are we – philosophically – prepared for climate change and other crises to come?

We are especially interested in submissions about the following topics:

Capabilities for a Broken World

The capability approach claims to evaluate the actual well-being of people and their circumstances of living. How does this thought transfer to the intergenerational context? How useful is the idea of capabilities in world, which is threatened by crisis or where crisis has already happened?

Gender and the Broken World

Gender justice is often thought to be an important topic in works on sustainability. How relevant are just gender relations in scenarios about the future? What role does gender equality play in a broken world or in other scenarios? Can we achieve (more) sustainability by promoting gender justice?

The conference is accompanied by an interdisciplinary workshop in which the participants will meet professionals from media and other creative industries. The aim will be to join forces to flesh out the broken world as it is presented in Mulgan’s book to the point where the world would be suitably concretely defined to serve as the story world of a movie or a novel. We will then turn around to discuss some philosophical questions with respect to this more fully specified world. The question we aim to answer is whether or not the added fictional detail will help us to develop clearer moral intuitions.