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International Workshop “Women Philosophers on Autonomy”, Yeditepe University, 5-6th May.

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“Women Philosophers on Autonomy”
International Workshop
Yeditepe University, Department of Philosophy
Istanbul, May 5-6th 2016
Contact: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alberto L. Siani (alberto.siani@gmail.com)


The workshop is organized in the frameworks of the newly instituted hub “Turkish European Network for the Study of Women in Philosophy” and of the newly instituted Joint Master Program “History of Women Philosophers/History of Philosophy” (University of Paderborn-Yeditepe University Istanbul). The overall aim of these two projects is the study of women philosophers and of the changes in the canonical history of philosophy resulting from a thorough consideration of the women contribution. Within this broader framework, this workshop addresses the women philosophers’ contribution to a particularly relevant topic: the notion of autonomy. Autonomy, together with its cognate concepts (self-determination, self-mastery, self-government etc.), is among the central concepts across the whole history and the whole spectrum of the philosophical debate, yet the women philosophers’ contribution to its development has been seldom investigated.
The notion of autonomy is virtually to be encountered in every area of philosophy. For the sake of simplicity one can identify three main aspects: autonomy in its relation with rationality, personality, self-identity, authenticity (personal autonomy), autonomy in its relation with freedom, moral values, moral motivations (moral autonomy), and autonomy in its relation with forms of government, state sovereignty, legal and social structures and institutions (political autonomy). The three aspects are clearly interrelated, yet not reducible to one another. Historically, autonomy has constituted an essential component of Western rationality, from Plato’s and Aristoteles’ rational self-determination up to the political autonomy and perfectionism debate in contemporary liberal philosophy, passing through the Stoic notion of self-sufficiency, Spinoza’s notion of adequate ideas and Kant’s moral autonomy as rooted in practical reason. Issues related to autonomy inform not only the philosophical practice, but also our daily life. Hardly a single dimension of life can escape evaluations in terms of autonomy: psychological autonomy, economic autonomy, legal autonomy, physical autonomy, autonomy of taste etc.
At the same time, the notion of autonomy has been the subject of significant criticism following at least two major threads: autonomy as outweighing or even endangering interpersonal or collective values (equality, solidarity, care etc.) and autonomy as alienating or marginalizing individual or collective subjects to which, for different reasons, a strong form of autonomy does not apply (persons with physical or psychological disabilities or in dire economic conditions, women in traditional communities or households, LGBTI persons, ethnic and religious minorities and even whole states). Since autonomy remains a fundamental and possibly non dispensable concept, formulating a more sophisticated and non-exclusive version of it is a major task whose importance goes far beyond the borders of the academic debate.
This workshop aims at illuminating possible patterns of this reformulation by bringing to light and critically assessing the contribution by women philosophers throughout the whole history of philosophy.

Written by albertolsiani

April 26, 2016 at 12:16 pm

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CFP for Adorno Conference at Bogazici, June 2016

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Adorno and Politics

1st Istanbul Critical Theory Conference

2-4 June 2016 at Bogazici University, Istanbul

Welcome to Boğaziçi University

Call For Papers

Without a doubt Negative Dialectics is Theodor W. Adorno’s most systematic attempt to ground social theory on a new philosophical foundation. One of the main concerns behind Adorno’s detailed engagement with Hegelian dialectics was to develop a materialist method for social research that would present an alternative to the increasingly anti-philosophical approach of vulgar Marxism to social reality and politics. This evidently political concern in Adorno’s Negative Dialectics seems not to have received the recognition it deserves even fifty years after its first publication. In fact, when it comes to questions concerning political and social theory, Adorno’s work is all too easily dismissed due to his cryptic style and his wide range of philosophically informed interests that resist the compartmentalization and departmentalization of scientific knowledge. Furthermore, the emancipatory trajectory of Adorno’s thought seems to point to an ambitious political agenda that hardly fits into the theoretical framework provided by contemporary Critical Theory. After all, the shift of paradigm in Critical Theory initiated by Jürgen Habermas and continued by Axel Honneth rests on an immanent critique of emancipatory trajectories such as the one presented by Adorno, while sharing the latter’s central political concerns. While his political agenda is widely criticized, the multifaceted approach of Adorno provides an excellent resource to question some of the pressing issues of social and political reality today in a more direct and concrete way than the competing approaches in social and political theory. To name a few, Adorno’s Critical Theory raises the following crucial questions: What are the perils of authoritarian rule in contemporary societies? How can the universalism of the modern bourgeois legal system cope with the plurality of social and political reality? How can or should politics redefine the relationship between equality and difference? Does art provide an effective medium for political action? What are the possibilities of democratic resistance and struggle in contemporary societies?

In the light of questions such as these, it becomes clear that there is an urgent need to reassess Adorno’s main works in order to gain new insights into the permanent state of social and political crisis of our times. The 50th anniversary of the publication of Adorno’s Negative Dialectics in 2016 provides an excellent opportunity to explore the role that Adorno’s work can play for the future of critical theory. This conference will focus on the following topics in Critical Theory inspired by Adorno’s oeuvre:

the relationship between politics and neoliberal economy
art and political action
language, concepts and their political / philosophical significance
the (im)possibilities of political practice
Adorno and modern / contemporary political theory
exploring the paths opened up by Adorno’s thought
with Adorno, beyond Adorno: expanding the horizons of Critical Theory
relations and resonances between Adorno and other critical thinkers, past and present

Keynote Speakers:

Seyla Benhabib (Yale University), Jay M. Bernstein (The New School for Social Research), Susan Buck-Morss (CUNY Graduate Center), Maeve Cooke (University College Dublin)

The conference language will be English. We invite interested scholars at all career levels to send proposals (maximum 400 words) to: adornoconference@boun.edu.tr

Deadline: 20 January 2016

Welcome to Bogazici University

Organizing Chairs:

Assoc. Prof. Zeynep Gambetti
Department of Political Science and International Relations,
Bogazici University Istanbul, Turkey

Assist. Prof. Volkan Cidam
Department of Political Science and International Relations,
Bogazici University Istanbul, Turkey

Dr. Philip Hogh
Adorno Research Center at the Philosophy Department,
Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Germany

Conference Assistants:

Çağrı Mutaf, cagri.mutaf@boun.edu.tr
Graduate Student, Political Science and International Relations, Boğaziçi University

Mesadet Maria Sözmen, mesadetmaria@gmail.com
Graduate Student, Political Science and International Relations, Boğaziçi University

Written by albertolsiani

December 1, 2015 at 1:35 pm

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Talk at Istanbul Technical University, Alberto L. Siani (Yeditepe University): OVERLAPPING DISAGREEMENT. For a Dissident Reading of Rawls

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On a standard reading, Rawls’s central claim is that, once philosophy produces an adequate account of rationality together with certain constraints aiming at reaching “fair” conclusions, and once this account is adequately expressed through the original position device, there will be a unanimous rational agreement (in A Theory of Justice) or an overlapping consensus (in Political Liberalism) on the two principles of justice and on the whole liberal-egalitarian conception. Against this standard reading I propose a “dissident” one (section 1), whose central point is not so much whether we (can) agree or not on Rawls’s design of the original position or even on his formulation of the principles of justice, but rather that political liberalism provides the right conceptual tools to inquire into the possibility, critical and progressive character and limits of a political agreement not conceived as the unanimous result of rational argumentations by reasonable citizens. I claim that political liberalism has a radical innovative potential for political philosophy that still needs to be fully actualized, and that this potential lies in the non-philosophical conception of the elements of political agreement and disagreement, and in their philosophical explicitation for political purposes. To the aim of a fuller appropriation of this potential I work around two poles: overlapping disagreement and reconciliation.

I juxtapose to the notion of “overlapping consensus” (explicitly central in political liberalism) the notion of “overlapping disagreement” which, though not being explicitly thematized as such, is arguably equally central to the political liberalism project (section 2). By introducing this notion, my main intention is rebutting the reading according to which Rawls attempts an explanation of the consensus on the principles of justice based on a philosophical theory of rationality yielding univocal and ahistorically valid results. Against this reading, I place Rawls’s understanding of political consensus within his idea of the task of political philosophy and show that he employs a rather minimalistic and flexible version of consensus. Political liberalism gives up once and for all the idea that philosophy or rationality are capable of establishing consensus even among reasonable individuals, let alone among unreasonable ones. On the contrary, political liberalism aims at showing that political agreement, if possible at all, has to be achieved on the basis of given political ideas, which constitute the groundwork of the philosophical construction, but are not themselves philosophically deduced. In other terms, political liberalism delimits the space of the public discussion on the political conception (section 3). Within this space, the domain of public reason, Rawls then proposes justice as fairness as the most reasonable candidate for a political conception, whereas it is fundamental to stress that he never claims that justice as fairness is the univocal philosophical answer to the task delineated by political liberalism, nor, for that matter, that there is such a univocal philosophical answer. In fact, within public reason overlapping disagreement persists even at the level of the definition of the contents of the political conception. The task of political liberalism and that of justice as fairness are hence to be kept well distinct, something I emphasize even against Rawls’s own duct of argumentation.

I then argue that both tasks constitute the two steps of a project of philosophical reconciliation, a project whose centrality emerges in the Rawlsian works especially after Political Liberalism (section 4). Finally, I discuss the limits of reconciliation through philosophy in order to consolidate the thesis that overlapping disagreement can never be fully dissolved through philosophical means, and that political liberalism is, in virtue of its realistic yet not resigned understanding of the task of political philosophy, is a formidable discussion partner for the debate on justice beyond consensus (section 5).


Istanbul Technical University

20 October 2015, 1:30 pm
ITB Seminar Room

Written by albertolsiani

October 14, 2015 at 4:49 pm

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