Social Justice, Solidarity and the EU

In recent decades the European Union has moved from a multilateral treaty to a distinctive social, political, and economic order among European states. During the same period, political philosophers have increasingly turned their attention to questions of justice beyond the state. But their discussions have largely focused on global justice, and have paid relatively little attention to the distinctive moral and political questions raised by the emergence of a new type of order in Europe.

More recently, public debates surrounding the sovereign debt crises, social policy competences and the sharing of humanitarian burdens in the ongoing refugee crisis have revealed deep­seated disagreements amongst Europeans and their governments about what kind of institutional arrangement the EU is and, crucially, what forms of interpersonal and interstate solidarity may be appropriate for such an entity. It is therefore important that the analysis and prescriptions of political theorists and philosophers move beyond the ‘traditional’ debates about the EU’s procedural standards of legitimacy (e.g. the ‘democratic deficit’ debate) and begin to think about substantive requirements of solidarity and distributive justice. In other words, philosophers must reflect on whether there are special duties of solidarity at the EU level, how these may be grounded, and what policy proposals and institutional arrangements would best serve to conform to these requirements.

The workshop is seeking both theoretical and applied papers treating the following and topically similar questions:

  • What principles or theory of justice is appropriate for the EU? Should we merely think of EU justice as instrumental to the achievement of some wider notion of global justice or does the EU give rise to distinctly European principles?
  • How should we conceive of different conceptions of solidarity for the EU? What is the theoretical connection between solidarity and social justice?
  • How practice­dependent must a theory of social justice for the EU be? To what extent should it include prevailing conceptions of the EU’s point and purpose given the massive disagreement about what that point and purpose may be?
  • To what extent do specific aspects of liberal accounts of social justice apply to the EU context, e.g. is the EU the kind of (market) context in which transnational claims of equality of opportunity apply?
  • Conveners: Siba Harb, Juri Viehoff

Submission Details:

Abstracts of  300-400 words should be submitted by May 30th. Please send your abstract and contact details to siba.harb@kuleuven.be. Decisions on abstracts will be made by June 5th.

If you have any further questions please contact siba.harb@kuleuven.be or juri.viehoff@ethik.uzh.ch