Caring Democracy: Current Topics in the Political Theory of Care

23. 11 - 24. 11. 2017

Conference program:  
The conference will take place in Prague whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The venue will be held at Karolinum, Malá aula, Ovocný trh 3, Praha 1.


Keynote Speaker:
Joan Tronto (University of Minnesota, USA)


Confirmed Speakers: 
Elisabeth Conradi (Stuttgart), Helena Stensöta (Göteborg), Kanchana Mahadevan (Mumbai), Brunella Casalini (Florence)
Conference Theme:

Despite its relatively short history, the moral theory known as “the ethics of care” or “care ethics” has become an influential current of contemporary moral thought. Soon after the first articulation of care ethics in the 1980s, care ethicists identified care also as a crucial concept in, among others, political and social philosophy. In Moral Boundaries (1993), Joan Tronto criticized the traditional boundary between ethics and politics and made a case for placing care at the center of the political life. This argument laid the ground for a dynamically developing exploration of the implications of care theory for a variety of political issues, such as welfare policy, public health care, education system, criminal justice, national security, international relations, etc. In her most recent book Caring Democracy (2013), Tronto breaks new ground by applying the theory of care to democratic theory.


The aim of the conference is to elaborate on Tronto’s invitation to rethink the very substance of democracy from the care perspective. The participants will enjoy the opportunity to discuss a variety of questions opened up by Tronto’s application of care theory to democratic theory. These include (not exclusively):

  • To what extent does liberty, equality, and justice depend upon caring?
  • How does the distribution of care affect the distribution of social and political power?
  • How do gender norms, neoliberal rationality, and marketization distort the realities of care and veil the real costs of democracy?
  • How does the marketization of care relate to the idea of ‘personal responsibility’ and what are its threats?
  • Are the contemporary democracies caring enough? And how could they become more caring?
  • How to reopen the closed, game-like political systems to the genuine concerns of citizens?
  • How can we conceptualize, from the care perspective, contemporary voters’ loss of trust in the political system and their increasing absence from politics? And how to remedy this political malaise?
  • What happens when ‘the demos’ does not care about care, i.e. if an actual democratic process does not produce the conclusions that are essential to the realization of democracy’s defining values?

We invite all scholars interested in care theory, democratic theory, or any related field of research to submit abstracts on any topic relevant to the theme of the conference. The abstract should not exceed 300 words and must be sent by email by August 31, 2017. Authors will be notified of the status of their submission by September 15, 2017. Finished papers should not exceed 20 minutes reading time. Thanks to the support of the organizing institution the conference offers no-fee participation to all presenters.

Petr Urban, PhD
Head of the Department of Contemporary Continental Philosophy
The Institute of Philosophy – The Czech Academy of Sciences
Jilská 1, 110 00 Prague 1, Czech Republic
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