2nd Global Conference: Ethics in Public Life (March 2010: Salzburg, Austria)

full name / name of organization: 
Dr Rob Fisher/Inter-Disciplinary.Net

2nd Global Conference
Ethics in Public Life

Monday 15th March - Wednesday 17th March 2010
Salzburg, Austria

Call for Papers
After last year's successful inaugural conference, The Ethics in Public Life project announces its second global conference. This inter-disciplinary project seeks to explore the role, character, nature and place of ethics in public life. Politicians might use moral rhetoric and justifications for their actions, and public agencies and institutions claim to have ethically informed constitutions, policies and practices, but contemporary critiques have raised significant questions about how ethical public life is. Critics point to an absence of deliberative public engagement with ethical debates, the instrumentality and functionality to ethical processes in policies and institutions and a decided gap between moral rhetoric and ethical thinking. Ethical discourse has arguably become the domain of legitimation for self-interested and ideological preferences, mystification rather than clarity in public debate and moral imposition of rather than ethical debate in public policy, opinion formation and institutional practices and services.

The purpose of this project is to provide an international network and space to explore these issues and debates, and to explore them across disciplinary and domain boundaries. Hence, we are open to papers, panels or workshops on any areas of applied ethical thinking from business ethics through 'bioethics' to sexual ethics and all fields in between. We are interested in papers, panels and workshops from meta-ethicists and those whose work is mainly within an applied field. We are particularly interested, however, in papers, panels and workshops that transcend both sets of boundaries, seek synergies between different domains and levels of abstraction and application, and that seek to move forward the agenda for how we promote the understanding and application of ethical deliberation in public life.

The Project seeks to promote discussion that develops a critical understanding of ethics in public life, both in the past and present, and use that insight to speculate on the public understandings and applications of ethics in the future. In doing so, it recognises that the interdisciplinary basis of such an analysis will take in the fields of art, cultural studies, education studies, health and medicine, history, literature, philosophy, politics, sociology, social and public policy, social theory and open avenues to wider and more diverse disciplinary connections, and the project welcomes interdisciplinary explorations that cross boundaries as well as those that deepen understanding within their disciplines.

This year we are foregrounding two areas in which we would particularly - but not exclusively - seek to receive proposals:

1. Ethics and the Academy
Many schooled in or interested in ethics either engaged in learning or seek advice from the academy (universities, research institutes, higher learning institutions) and it is the academy that is often the employer of those whose professions are the propagation of or delivery of consultant expertise on ethical codes, regulations and knowledge. Yet early C21st academies are often characterised as massified, commodified, resource efficiency driven, quality compromised edu-factories. How then do we understand the ethics of the academy and those in the academy who have hitherto been associated with virtues and ethical conduct? What challenges do academies face ethically, and are they up to the task of meeting these challenges?

2. Ethics and Politicians
In Britain it is wholesale political corruption through expenses fraud. In Italy, it is the seeming failure to call the premier to account regardless of evidence of crimes. In the US and the UK, a seeming failure to call into account those who engaged in war beyond international law, or see the evidence, or prosecute crimes against international law such as torture. In the European Union, it is an inability to account for widespread misuse of funds and fraudulent activity. For many, there is almost exhaustion with contemporary political systems and structures and those who inhabit them. Is contemporary politics simply beyond any ethical code, regulation or culture? Can we ever have a return to ethical politics, and what would it involve?

Some broad indicative themes are suggested below to indicate the sorts of issues that might be addressed in conference papers and workshops.

A. Public Understandings of Ethics and Ethical Education for Public Understandings
What does the public understand by ethical conduct? How are we educated or socialised into what ethical conduct in public life is? What is the nature, scope and limitations of ethical education in promoting an ethical public life? To what extent does moral education promote or impede ethical thinking? How do we understand and evaluate political, cultural and educational ways of inculcating ethics in the public realm?

B. Ethical regulations, Codes and Scrutiny in Public Life
What do ethical regulations, codes and scrutiny offer to more ethical practice in public life? What form and character should ethical regulations, codes and scrutiny take to effectively develop ethical practice in the public realm? Are current regulations, codes and scrutiny effective? To what extent do regulations, codes and scrutiny necessarily represent the cultural character and political interests of their practitioners? How can we improve regulation, code-making and scrutiny in public life and ensure its effectiveness?

C. Ethics in Social and Public Policy-Making: from Governance to Implementation
What do particular nations, agencies and organisations develop ethical governance for more ethical practice in public life? What form and character should ethical governance take in informing policy and practice in the public realm? How do those involved in ethical governance ensure principles are implemented effectively in policy and practice? To what extent does governance necessarily represent the cultural character and political interests of their practitioners? How can we improve ethical governance?

D. Intellectuals, Academia, the Arts, Culture and Ethical Knowledge
What special issues arise from intellectuals and academics engagement with ethics in their work? How effective is the ethical governance and regulation of academia and the arts? Is all intellectual and artist work (in all disciplines and fields) necessarily subject to ethical thinking and regulation? To what extent should artists and intellectuals be exempt from ethical regulation to 'speak to truth'? In what ways can culture and the arts be ethical regulated and yet free to express themselves?

E. Applied Ethics in Public and Private Life
How do different industries, organisations and fields (business, health and medicine, education, politics and whatever other areas you have expertise in) perform ethically in public life? What general lessons can we learn from considering the ethical governance and regulation of particular examples in particular nations? What different areas of public life set contemporary challenges for those who seek to inculcate ethics in public life? How can ethical guidance inform ethical practice in both public and private realms? What relationship is there and should there be between ethics in public life and ethics in private life?

F. Ethics and Public Life: Historical Perspectives
What can we learn from historical examples of ethical governance, regulation, conduct and practice? How far are historical writings and examples of ethical principles and practice from the past applicable to the present?

G. Applying Ethical Theories and Ideas to Public Problems and Issues
How useful is ethical theory in guiding ethical governance, regulation, policy and practice? How is theory applied to practice and how might it be better applied? What forms of guidance on ethical thinking do theories offer to the project of ethics in public life? What contemporary debates in ethical theory and ideas offer opportunities for better ethical conduct and practice in public life?

300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 2nd October 2009. All submissions are minimally double blind peer reviewed where appropriate. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 5th February 2010. Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to the 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.

Organising Chairs
Paul Reynolds
Reader in Sociology and Social Philosophy
Centre Director, CREED,
Edge Hill University
United Kingdom
E-mail: prr@inter-disciplinary.net

Rob Fisher
Network Founder & Network Leader
Freeland, Oxfordshire OX29 8HR
United Kingdom
E-mail: epl2@inter-disciplinary.net

The conference is part of the Critical Issues 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 this conference will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Submission of selected papers may be encouraged for the new Inter-Disciplinary.Net Journal The Global Journal of Ethics in Public Life to be launched in 2010, or in a themed hard copy volume for the accompanying book series. This project is run by Inter-Disciplinary.Net in association with the Centre for Research Ethics and Ethical Deliberation (CREED) at Edge Hill University.

For further details about the project please visit:

For further details about the conference please visit: