full name / name of organization:
Dr Rob Fisher/Inter-Disciplinary.Net
1st Global Conference
Problems of Democracy
Friday 30th April – Sunday 2nd May 2010
Prague, Czech Republic
Call for Papers
The opening decade of the 21st century sees democracy entrenched as the
ideal to which all should aspire who do not already enjoy the best of
all possible political systems. But to assert that alternatives to
democracy are (even) worse is hardly to give a positive argument in its
favour: Plato's objection, that the "ship of state" requires expertise
to steer it that "the many" do not possess surely deserves a better
answer. But what? And is an answer to be found in "democracy itself"
(whatever that may be) or in what democracy makes possible?
And even once that's dealt with, what about "actually existing
democracy"? If, as Zizek argues, 'Multi-party liberal democracy
"represents" a precise vision of social life in which politics is
organized so that parties compete in elections to exert control over the
state legislative and executive apparatus', is that the best democracy
can do? Indeed, just what is to count as democracy? And again, is an
answer to this question to be sought in some substantial element of the
very idea of democracy or in instrumental terms, such as the practical
consequences of adopting this or that view?
This conference is intended as the launch of a continuing and explicitly
multi- and inter-disciplinary conversation that aims to bring together
people from a wide range of disciplines, professions and ngo's to focus
on what "democracy" might mean; on what – if anything – might justify
democratic as against other social arrangements; and on visions of
democratic practice that go beyond the pusillanimous, platitudinous and
ultimately self-regarding charade that is the reality of western liberal
The 'problems of democracy' as outlined below deliberately seek to
address large questions as a means of setting something of an agenda for
such a project. We will of course be pleased to receive proposals that
extend or complement these. We seek contributions from both
practitioners and academics, and from the widest possible range of
intellectual interests and commitment.
1. What Counts as Democracy?
~ What are the assumptions that lie behind democracy? Is democracy an
end in itself, or does it serve other values and goals?
~ "Government by, for and of the people": what political, epistemic
and/or other commitments might such an ideal entail?
~ Is 'What counts as democracy?' in any sense a moral question?
2. Is Democracy a Good Thing?
~ What exactly does democracy have to recommend it?
~ What are the connections between democracy and equality? And what does
equality amount to? Is it self-evident that equality is an end to be
pursued; or are there substantive arguments in its favour?
~ How does democracy understand freedom? And is freedom a self-evident good?
~ Alternatives to democracy
3. Forms of Democracy
~ Considerations of representative, delegated and discursive models of
~ Is there a case for lotteries to replace – or supplement – elections?
~ The scope of democracy: state, nation, corporation, workplace,
"community" and locality
The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed
panel proposals. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 27th
November 2009. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full
draft paper should be submitted by Friday 19th March 2010.
300 word abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising
Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the
following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e)
body of abstract.
Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes
and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold,
italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper
proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you
should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in
cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic
route or resend.
Joint Organising Chairs:
Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics
Faculty of Arts, Brighton University,
Network Founder and Leader
The conference is part of the Probing the Boundaries programme of
research projects. It aims to bring together people from different areas
and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are
innovative and exciting.
All papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be eligible
for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be developed for
publication in a themed hard copy volume(s).
For further details about the project please visit:
For further details about the conference please visit: