Topics in global justice: agency, power and policy

European Research Institute (G3 on campus map) - Lecture Room G51, University of Birmingham
Thursday 26 May (09:00) - Friday 27 May 2016 (17:00)

The second annual conference of the Centre for the Study of Global Ethics in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham. 

The conference is interested in the ethics and politics of public policies that aim to enhance individual agency by shaping personal decision making and changing individual behaviours. Recent years have seen a proliferation of academic research and public programming aimed at improving individual and social outcomes through overt and covert efforts to change the decisions and behaviors of individual agents.  These policies raise deep ethical questions about the proper role of government, the circumstances of justice, the nature and importance of individual agency, and the role of social norms in shaping preferences and actions.  

 Programme 26 May 2016

  • 9:00-10:00 Serena Parekh (Northeastern)-Taking Seriously the Agency of Refugees
  • 10:15-11:45 Grad Panel 1:
    • Blair Peruniak (Oxford)-Displacement, Responsibility, and Massively Shared Agency
    • Andrew Molas (York)- Defending the CRPD: Dignity, Flourishing, and the Universal Right to Mental Health
  • 11:45-13:00 Lunch
  • 13:00-14:15 Invited Keynote: Clare Chambers (Cambridge) - Regulating Religious Marriage
  • 14:15-15:15 Jennifer Morton (City College of NY)- Can Education Undermine Representation?
  • 15:30-16:30 Alison Jaggar (Colorado/Birmingham) and Corwin Aragon (Concordia) - Agency, Complicity, and Global Ethics: Social Power and the Responsibility to Remedy Structural Injustice
  • 16:45-18:15 Public Lecture: Carl Hart (Columbia) How Pot (and other recreational drugs) Can Cure Racism*

You will be automatically registered for the public lecture as part of the conference package, but if you do not plan on attending the conference you can still register for the public lecture separately by visiting

Programme 27 May 2016

  • 9:00-10:00 Invited Keynote: Serene Khader (Brooklyn College)- Do Muslim Women Really Need Freedom?
  • 10:30-12:00 Grad Panel 2: 
    • Stephanie Sheintul (Wisconsin)- Moral Status and Paternalism;
    • Ji Young Lee (Bristol) A Millian Perspective on Paternalism;
    • Nicolas Brando (KU Leuven) Cultivating the Potential Self: Children and Agency in the Contractarian and Capability Theory
  • 12:00-13:00 Lunch
  • 13:00-14:15 Invited Keynote: Kimberley Brownlee—Global Issues of Sociability
  • 14:15-15:15 Steve Weidmer (Arkansas State)- Adaptive Preferences and Respect for Agency
  • 15:30-16:30 Heather Widdows (Birmingham)-The Demands of Beauty: Choice, Coercion, and Exploitation


  • Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University, and author of the bestselling book High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery that Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society.  Dr. Hart is a widely sought after public commentator and his work has been featured in major publications including The New York Times and The Atlantic, and on major media outlets including HBO, MSNBC, and Fox News.
  • Serene Khader, Jay Newman Chair in the Philosophy of Culture, Brooklyn College
  • Clare Chambers, University Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Cambridge University

Transportation and accommodation

The University of Birmingham is easily accessible by train, with the University stop on campus, about a 5 minute walk from the conference venue.  

Accommodation on the University of Birmingham campus is available through Venue Birmingham.  Further accommodation nearby in the city of Birmingham is available.


Arrangements are still being made with regards to accessibility of the conference.  We aim to make the conference as accessible as possible and are working with the University to ensure an inclusive conference.  Further information will be forthcoming shortly.

The conference has been generously funded by the Society for Applied Philosophy, the MIND Association, the Institute for Advanced Studies, the North American Travel Fund, and the School of Philosophy, Theology, and Religion.

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