Conference Ethics of Economic Institutions

Call for Papers: Conference on “The Ethics of Economic Institutions”

Utrecht, January 8-10, 2015.

Our economic institutions are never merely economic institutions; they are always at the same time also moral statements about the good or right ways in which we produce, exchange, consume, distribute and ultimately live together. This includes both the public and private part of economic life. This prompts many questions, such as the following:

· What kind of taxes should we have, and on which purposes should we spend public revenues?

· Which markets are to be prohibited, and how should markets be regulated?

· What would a just financial sector require? Which kinds of relations should prevail between debtors and creditors?

· What is the purpose of corporations, and what are the implications for corporate governance?

· Should citizens have a right and/or a duty to work and how to theorize moral obligations to appropriate workplace conditions?

This conference is meant to stimulate reflection about the ethical sides of these questions. Which moral ideals should animate our economic institutions, and what are the implications in practice? We seek contributions from moral, social and political philosophy, but also from a wide range of other disciplines (economics, history, sociology, law, etc.) that may shed light on these questions. Contributions may address a particular author (e.g. Rawls on property-owning democracy, Mill on the stationary state), ethical theory (e.g. a Kantian view on financial markets, a utilitarian view of labour markets), or a particular economic institution (from basic income schemes to ecological markets). We are particularly interested in contributions addressing the methodology of ethical evaluations of economic institutions: How do we (and should we) evaluate institutions from a moral point of view? How does this focus on institutions relate to ethical evaluations of individual actions (as is typical in business ethics)? How does this type of reflection relate to economic, sociological and political evaluations of the same institutions?

We are pleased to announce that the following speakers will give keynote lectures (titles are provisional; biographies can be found below):

· Boudewijn de Bruin (University of Groningen): “The Ethics of Money and Debt”

· Joseph Heath (University of Toronto): “On the Very Idea of a Just Wage”

· Miriam Ronzoni (University of Manchester): “Global Labour Justice”

· Erik Schokkaert, (KU Leuven): “Solidarity and Innovation in Health Care: Principles and Taboos”

· Lea Ypi (London School of Economics): “Exploitation in the Market”

The conference is organized with financial support from the Strategic Theme “Institutions” of Utrecht University, the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies of Utrecht University, and by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).


Dates: January 8-10, 2015.

Location: Hotel Mitland, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Conference fee: 200 euro. The fee includes lunches (on 9 and 10 January) and diners (on 8 and 9 January). Hotel accommodation and travel has to be arranged on an individual basis. Hotel rooms are reserved at a special conference price at Hotel Mitland. These will be held available until October 1st.

Conference organization: Rutger Claassen & Ingrid Robeyns, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University. For all questions, please email to

Abstract submission and deadline

Please send a Word document with your abstract (300-500 words plus up to 5 references) and your full contact details to The deadline for abstract submissions is July 1st, 2014. Submitters will be notified of acceptance or rejection by August 1st at latest. The deadline for registration is September 15st.

Biography’s of the plenary speakers

Boudewijn de Bruin is professor of financial ethics at the University of Groningen. He obtained his PhD from the University of Amsterdam, and has held visiting positions at Harvard, Cambridge and Paris. His research interests include moral and political philosophy, epistemology, and philosophy of economics and finance. A monograph on Ethics in Finance is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. With Alex Oliver (Cambridge), De Bruin is directing a programme on Trusting Banks financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO).

Joseph Heath is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto. His work deals with various issues that arise at the boundary between philosophy and economics, including models of practical rationality, intergenerational justice, theories of the welfare state, and business ethics. He is the author of numerous books, including Morality, Competition and the Firm, published by Oxford University Press in fall 2014, as well as the bestselling Filthy Lucre: Economics for People who Hate Capitalism.

Miriam Ronzoni is a Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at Manchester and a member of MANCEPT. She has worked on the justification of constructivism as well as on issues of global justice and the relationship between justice and institutions. She is currently interested in the inter-play between global and domestic factors in global economic justice (with respect to taxation and labour in particular) and on the institutional implications of theories of global justice.

Erik Schokkaert is full professor of public economics and welfare economics at the Department of Economics of the KU Leuven. He chairs the interdisciplinary think tank “Metaforum” of the KULeuven. His research focuses on (a) the modelling of different theories of distributive justice; (b) the application of these theories for the analysis of specific policy problems in the fields of health, social security and taxation. He is one of the editors of Economics and Philosophy. He was a member of various commissions appointed by the Belgian (and Dutch) governments to give policy advice in the domains of health and social security. Together with Wulf Gaertner he wrote a book on Empirical Social Choice: Questionnaire-Experimental Studies on Distributive Justice (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Lea Ypi is Associate Professor in Political Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the Australian National University. She is interested in issues of global justice (including migration and colonialism), democratic theory (with particular focus on parties) and the philosophy of the Enlightenment (especially Kant). She is the author of Global Justice and Avant-Garde Political Agency (Oxford University Press 2012) and of articles in Philosophy and Public Affairs, The American Political Science Review, The Journal of Political Philosophy and others.