Facts & Norms Workshop III – University of Copenhagen

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Facts & Norms Workshop III


24–25 August 2017
Department of Political Science
University of Copenhagen

Peter Vranas (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Frances Howard-Snyder (Western Washington University)
Naima Chahboun (Stockholm University)
Eva Erman (Stockholm University)
Naomi Scheman (University of Minnesota)
Pedro A. Teixeira (Free University of Berlin)
Oana Crusmac (National School of Political and Administrative Studies, Bukarest)
Theresa Scavenius (University of Copenhagen)
Jakob Strandgaard (Lund University)
Sune Lægaard (Roskilde University)
Lars Botin (Aalborg University Copenhagen)

The Facts & Norms Workshops I and II held in August 2013 and August 2015 discussed what role facts may play in the normative theorising. The result was a collection of papers espousing different views on how facts bear on political theory/philosophy. (These papers are accepted for publication in CRISPP in 2017). According to some of these contributors, political theory is unavoidably sensitive to various facts. Other contributors hold more conventional views on the pertinent relationship between facts and norms, while being open to the possibility that while facts bear on how fundamental normative principles apply to the world, these principles themselves make no factual assumptions.

The goal of Facts & Norms Workshop III is to take the discussion one step further by examining the essentially contested relationship between factual and normative judgements. We tend to assume that concepts, theories and facts have something important to say to each other. We talk about 'applying principles on political cases', 'justifying practices by referring to norms' and 'deriving implications of norms on facts'. However, how these relationships are constructed and determined remains under-theorised. What does it mean to say that 'one justifies a politics by normative principles' or that 'one applies normative principles to politics'?

The Facts & Norms Workshop III will question the relevance of theorising the relationship between factual and normative judgements by referring to ‘justifying’, ‘applying’ and ‘deriving’. Instead, the workshop will examine the possibility of a fundamental indeterminacy between factual and normative judgements. On the basis of this, the workshop will propose alternative ways to comprehend the interlinkages between facts and norms. One such way may be fact-sensitive normative principles that theorise normative principles in light of factual concerns. Another way may be a pre-suppositional relationship where facts select relevant sets of normative principles. Yet another way may be questions related to the argument that ‘can’ constraints have a bearing on normative principles: does ‘can’ imply ‘ought’? To what extent may ‘can’ constraints constitute a third type of judgements that draws on both factual and normative judgements but nonetheless appreciates that factual and normative judgement do not determine each other?

The Facts & Norms Workshop III will continue the work accomplished at the two previous workshops by advancing the conversation on the political relevance of political theory/philosophy in this urgent time of political polarization and de-democratisation.

A collection of papers from the previous workshops Facts & Norms I & II has been accepted for a special issue of CRISPP which will be published in 2017. More information on the special issue can be found here

The venue of the workshop is ‘The Black Diamond’, Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1, Copenhagen. Seminar room: Blixen.

Participation is open to all. Please register by sending an email to nbh@ifs.ku.dk

The full programme for the workshop can be found here.

Theresa Scavenius, COMPROMISE Research Group, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen.