Justice, Rights and Institutions:

Themes from the Political Philosophy of T. M. Scanlon

Friday 22 - Saturday 23 May 2009

Time:     9am - 5.45pm each day

Venue:   John Casken Lecture Theatre, Martin Harris Centre,
              University of Manchester [google maps]


  • T. M. Scanlon (Harvard University)
  • Waheed Hussain (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Rahul Kumar (Queen's University, Canada)
  • A. J. Julius (University of California at Los Angeles)
  • Véronique Munoz-Dardé (University College London)
  • Serena Olsaretti (University of Cambridge)
  • Martin O'Neill (University of Manchester)
  • Michael Otsuka (University College London)
  • Mathias Risse (Harvard University)
  • Zofia Stemplowska (University of Manchester)
  • Leif Wenar (King's College, London)
  • Andrew Williams (University of Warwick)
  • Jonathan Wolff (University College London)

The event is co-sponsored by MANCEPT (the Manchester Centre for Political Theory)
and by the Philosophy and Politics Discipline Areas of the School of Social Sciences,
and is financially supported by the Royal Institute of Philosophy,
the Society for Applied Philosophy, and the Analysis Trust.

Registration           Schedule        Conference Venue         Conference Aims & Description          Contact              Links

Conference Venue:

John Casken Lecture Theatre, Martin Harris Centre,
University of Manchester M13 9PL

The conference venue is no. 42 on these maps:

University of Manchester - Google Map
University of Manchester - Campus Map

It's also available as a printable PDF here:

University of Manchester - Campus Map [PDF]


Friday 22 May 2009

8.45      Registration and Coffee/Tea

9.15      Session 1    Chair: Alan Hamlin

9.20      Martin O'Neill (University of Manchester), “Contractualism, Choice and Inequality”
10.15    Jonathan Wolff (UCL), “Scanlon on Social and Material Inequality”

11.10    Coffee/Tea

            Session 2    Chair: Hillel Steiner
11.40    Michael Otsuka (UCL), “How to Discount Harms by their Improbability”
12.35    Véronique Munoz-Dardé (UCL), "Conversations with an Amish Farmer: Risk and Reasonable Rejection"

1.30      Lunch

            Session 3    Chair: Joel Smith
2.30      Rahul Kumar (Queen's University, Canada), “Risking Future Generations”

3.25      Mathias Risse (Harvard University), “Common Ownership of the Earth and a Scanlonian Approach to Wronging Future Generations”

4.20      Tea/Coffee

            Session 4    Chair: Steve de Wijze
4.50      Andrew Williams (University of Warwick), “Defence”

5.45      Finish

7.30      Conference Dinner. Tai Pan, 81-97 Upper Brooke Street M13 9TX
            (For those who have pre-booked for dinner - to book, e-mail Martin O'Neill)

             Tai Pan website.         Tai Pan on Google Maps.

Saturday 23 May 2009

9.00      Tea and Coffee
            Session 5     Chair: Julian Dodd
9.30      Leif Wenar (King's College, London), “Scanlon on Rights”

10.30    T. M. Scanlon (Harvard University), “Moral Rights and Constitutional Rights”

11.30    Coffee/Tea

            Session 6     Chair: Thomas Smith
12.00    A. J. Julius (UCLA), “Political Wrongness”

1.00      Lunch

            Session 7     Chair: Jonathan Quong
2.15      Serena Olsaretti (University of Cambridge), “Scanlon on Substantive Responsibility”

3.15      Zofia Stemplowska (University of Manchester), “When Bad Options are Better than None:
            Scanlon and Voorhoeve on Substantive Responsibility”

4.15      Tea/Coffee

            Session 8     Chair: Martin O'Neill
4.45      Waheed Hussain (University of Pennsylvania), "The Unromantic Rousseauian:
            Scanlon on Justice, Motivation and Freedom"

5.45      Finish

6.00-     Drinks at Kro2

At the close of each day’s proceedings, we’ll be going for a drink at Kro2 on Oxford Road
(just the other side of the Mancunian Way overpass, next door to the BBC Manchester Broadcasting House).
Kro2  website.         Kro2 on google maps.

Please note that food and drink are restricted to Room G16 of the conference venue, so please don’t take food or drink out of this room.
Please also keep noise to a minimum in the foyer area of the Martin Harris Centre, as the building is used for musical recitals.

We are here are guests of the Centre for Music and Drama, and we don’t want to upset our hosts!

A PDF version of the Conference Timetable is available here.


        Registration is now closed

        Conference Registration and Booking form

Conference Aims and Description:

T. M. Scanlon, the Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity at Harvard University, is one of the most significant moral and political philosophers of the past thirty years. His development of contractualism as a general view explaining the content of "what we owe to each other" represents one of the great systematic projects in recent moral and political philosophy

This conference will take advantage of Scanlon's presence in the UK to give the 2009 Locke Lectures at the University of Oxford, in order to bring him to Manchester for an intensive two-day exploration of themes from his political philosophy.

Although Scanlon's contractualist moral philosophy has received a significant degree of critical attention, there has perhaps not been the same degree of attention given to the distinctively political aspects or implications of Scanlon's project. The conference will aim to remedy this gap through a detailed exploration both of Scanlon's work in political philosophy, and of the implications for political philosophy of other aspects of Scanlon's work on topics in moral philosophy.

Papers at the conference will thus be of two broad types: (a) papers relating to Scanlon's treatment of issues such as freedom of expression, human rights, equality, punishment, contract, and the idea of tolerance, as collected in his book The Difficulty of Tolerance (Cambridge: CUP, 2003); and (b) papers that address the connections between issues in political philosophy and Scanlon's treatment of topics such as choice, responsibility, blame, intention, value, promising, and well-being in his books What We Owe to Each Other (Cambridge, Mass.: HUP, 1998) and Moral Dimensions (Cambridge, Mass.: HUP, 2008).


    For any queries about this conference, please contact the conference organizer, Martin O'Neill

    e-mail: martin.oneill (AT) manchester.ac.uk

    This conference has a Facebook 'Event' page, accessible if you click here

    The Conference Registration and Accommodation form is here


Conference speakers' webpages:

Books by T. M. Scanlon:


What We Owe to Each Other

What We Owe to Each Other (1998)   

The Difficulty of Tolerance: Essays in Political Philosophy (2003)

Moral Dimensions: Permissibility, Meaning and Blame (2008)

Scanlon's Tanner Lectures:

The Significance of Choice (1986, published 1988)

The Status of Well-Being (1996, published 1998)


Alex Voorhoeve Interview (2001) with Scanlon, "Kant on the Cheap" [from The Philosophers' Magazine]

Scanlon interview with Harry Kriesler (2007), part of UC Berkeley's "Conversations with History" video interviews

Thomas Nagel, "One-to-One" (Review of What We Owe to Each Other), London Review of Books, 1999

Scanlon's Berkeley Howison Lecture (2007) on "The Ethics of Blame" (video)

Elizabeth Ashford and Tim Mulgan, "Contractualism" (2007) in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (focuses on Scanlon's views)


John Locke Lectures, University of Oxford

School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester

Philosophy Discipline Area, University of Manchester

Politics Discipline Area, University of Manchester

Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT)


                       Royal Institute of Philosophy

                       Society for Applied Philosophy

                       Analysis Trust


Registration                        Conference Aims & Description                        Contact                               Links