Upcoming Roundtable and Workshop

What Is to Be Done? Political Ontology, Critique, and Democratic Politics

This event entails a roundtable in Edinburgh as well as a workshop in St Andrews. Our goal is to explore the contentious relationship between ontology, critique and democratic politics, by simultaneously engaging with recent scholarship on the “ontological turn” in political theory and with reflections around the interface between varieties of critique and democratic agency.

18 November, 4 pm, CMB Seminar Room 2

Roundtable with Aletta Norval (Essex), Lois McNay (Oxford), Victor Prozorov (Helsinki), Oliver Marchart (Vienna).

19 November, St Andrews University, 10:30-18:00, Arts Lecture Theatre, Arts Faculty Building



  • Akwugo Emejulu, University of Edinburgh.
  • Anthony Lang, University of St Andrews.
  • Patrick Hayden, University of St. Andrews.
  • Oliver Marchart, University of Vienna.
  • Lois McNay, Oxford University.
  • Mihaela Mihai, University of Edinburgh.
  • Aletta Norval, University of Essex.
  • Vassilios Paipais, University of St Andrews.
  • Sergei Prozorov, University of Helsinki.
  • Nick Rengger, University of St. Andrews.
  • Mathias Thaler, University of Edinburgh.

Past Workshops

Spectating and Acting: A Tension at the Heart of Democratic Politics
20 June 2014

This workshop explored the links as well as contradictions between spectating and acting in democratic societies. Is the former a necessary pre-condition for the latter? Or does the former nowadays completely eclipse the latter? What consequences for democratic politics follow from the observation that it is today very difficult, if not impossible, to get one’s voice heard in public deliberations? Is there a potential for the recovery of genuine political action in times of widespread apathy and cynicism?



British Academy Workshop: Climate Change and Responsibility
20-21 June 2012

In 2012 the Just World Institute held a two-day workshop for intensive discussion of works in progress on climate change and responsibility, generously funded by the British Academy and Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Professor Edward Page defended the beneficiary pays principle for allocating the costs of tackling climate change, expanding on his paper, ‘Give it up for climate change: a defence of the beneficiary pays principle’, International Theory, 4(2), 300-30 (2012).

Dr Anja Karnein discussed the problem of partial compliance, defending a duty to pick up the slack for others’ failure to act on climate change. Dr Carl Knight offered a qualified defence of grandfathering, appealing to utility, equality, and responsibility. Professor Henry Shue led discussion on his forthcoming paper, ‘Climate Hope: Implementing the Exit Strategy’.

With the spotlight on individual moral responsibility, chapters were discussed from forthcoming books by Professor Dale Jamieson (provisionally titled Reason in a Dark Time: Ethics and Politics in a Greenhouse World) and Dr Elizabeth Cripps (Climate Change and the Moral Agent: Individual Duties in an Interdependent World, Oxford: Oxford University Press). Dr Matthew Rendall defended his draft paper, ‘FUGSOT, Moral Mathematics and Climate Change’.

In his paper, ‘Justice, Equality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions’, Professor Simon Caney criticised equal per capita view accounts of an appropriate distribution of greenhouse gas emissions, and outlined an alternative. The workshop ended with a general debate on the role of theorists following the Durban Platform.

Workshop Series: Climate Change, Moral Duties, and Political Change
June 2010 - July 2011

This series of workshops brought together early career researchers and senior academics spearheading the debate on the ethics and justice of climate change.

Two full-day events, generously supported by the Political Studies Association Specialist Group on Global Justice and Human Rights, covered ‘Climate Change, distributing burdens and motivating action’ and ‘Climate change, liberalism and cosmopolitanism’. Papers featured were by Professors Stephen Gardiner, Edward Page, Catriona McKinnon, and Tim Hayward, Dr Elizabeth Cripps, Dr Keith Hyams, Dr Derek Bell, and Dr Kerri Woods.

In one of four half-day workshops sponsored by the Roberts Fund for Research-Led Initiatives, Professor David Schlosberg and Dr Anders Schinkel presented papers on ‘Beyond the human: animal rights, environmental justice and ecological justice’. Dr Cara Nine and Dr Alexa Zellentin discussed ‘Climate change, territorial justice and migration’. Professor Matthias Fritsch and Dr Dominic Roser led debate on ‘The intergenerational challenge: duties to the as-yet unborn’. The series ended with a discussion of ‘Climate change, overpopulation and procreative justice’, with papers from Professor Carter Dillard and Dr Clare Heyward.

For an account of themes raised by the series in the context of the current climate ethics, debate, see:

Cripps, Elizabeth (2011): ‘Where We Are Now: Climate Ethics and Future Challenges’, Review Essay, Climate Law 2, 117-133

Published versions of papers discussed in the series include:

Gardiner, Stephen (2011): ‘Is No-One Responsible for Global Environmental Tragedy? Climate Change as a Challenge to Our Ethical Concepts.’ In: The Ethics of Global Climate Change, ed. D.G. Arnold, 38-59. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Hyams, Keith (2009): ‘A Just Response to Climate Change: Personal Carbon Allowances and the Normal-Functioning Approach’, Journal of Social Philosophy, vol. 40, no. 2, 237-256.

Page, Edward (2011): ‘Climatic justice and the fair distribution of atmospheric burdens’, The Monist 94(3), 412-32

Nine, Cara (2010): ‘Ecological Refugees, State Borders, and the Lockean Proviso’, Journal of Applied Philosophy, 27 (4), 359-375.

Zellentin, Alexa (2010): ‘Climate Migration: Cultural Aspects of Climate Change’, Analyse and Kritik, 32, (1), 63-86.

Two of the papers now form chapters in monographs:

McKinnon, Catriona (2012): Climate Change and Future Justice: Precaution, Compensation and Triage (London: Routledge)

Cripps, Elizabeth (forthcoming): Climate Change and the Moral Agent: Individual Duties in an Interdependent World (Oxford: Oxford University Press)