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Philosophy and Public Affairs

Colloquium organized by Beate Roessler and Henri Wijsbek If not noted otherwise: Wednesdays, 4-6 pm, Department of Philosophy, Faculteitskamer, Oude Turfmarkt 147.

A common characteristic of many contemporary social problems is the uncertainty about the extent to which these problems are public affairs, and thus where, by whom and how they have to be dealt with in a liberal democracy. This is particularly pressing in questions about religious diversity and fundamentalism, biotechnology and modern medicine, to name but a few examples.  In spite of their obvious differences in content, problems in areas such as these jointly call for serious reconsideration of political, moral and ethical concepts. The principles of liberalism and democracy, distinctions like the ones between the private and the public, fact and value, science and politics, and between individual morality and the normative neutrality of liberal democracies have to be interpreted against the background of these new societal problems. To deal with public concerns, established institutions and practices need to be re-evaluated. These include the sovereignty of the national state, the autonomous individual as the basic unit in normative theory, the view that democratic politics is the execution of aggregated individual preferences, and the role of expertise in democracy.

With this series of seminars with prominent moral and political philosophers from both inside and outside the Netherlands, we want to shed light on different aspects of the broad problematic, from both more theoretically oriented as well as more concretely social and political perspectives.

Contact: Henri Wijsbek (

PPA Colloquia tweede semester 2018 – 2019

Spreker: Fleur Jongepier, RU
Explanation and Agency: Exploring the normative landscape of the “Right to Explanation”
Commentator: Christian Skirke

Speaker: Martijn Sax, UvA
Your Health and/or Their Wealth? For-Profit Health Apps as Manipulative Digital Environments
Commentator: Thomas Nys

Speaker: Dorothea Gaedeke, UU
Commentator: Gerrit Schaafsma

Speaker: Ingrid Robeyns, UU
Commentator: Marc Davidson

Speaker: Pauline Kleingeld, RUG

Speaker: Veronica Vasterling, RU
The political phenomenology of gender and race.
Commentator: Alex Thinius

Speaker: Annemarie van Stee, RU

Speaker: James Gledhill,

Program Semester I (Fall 2018):

12 September: Hao Wang: The illusion of transparency: Algorithmic transparency as a disciplinary technique in credit scoring systems.

26 September: Veit Bader: Democracy or Expertocracy? Democratizing sciences, expertise, policy and governance in contexts of complexity.
Commentator: Eva Groen-Reijman

3 October: Workshop and lecture with Christoph Mencke

17 October: Constanze Binder: TBA

31 October: Workshop and lecture with Sabina Lovibond

14 November: Felix Bender: Determining refugee status: on what grounds?

28 November: TBA

12 December: TBA