CFA: John Dewey and Critical Philosophies for Critical Political Times

John Dewey and Critical Philosophies for Critical Political Times

University College Dublin

19th-20th October 2017

Recent events have occasioned the need for theorists working on critical projects to grapple with unprecedented political phenomena in Western societies – phenomena such as Brexit and the rise of the extreme right-wing. Although reminiscent of previous generations’ political practice and thought, there appears to be a unique inflection in the present moment that renders simple appeals to ‘history repeating itself’ unconvincing. At the same time, critical theorists working in a variety of fields have increasingly turned to pragmatism as a framework for theorising contemporary political problems and ideas, as evinced by pragmatism’s proliferation across the European continent. Given this contemporary concern with pragmatism as a resource for critical philosophical and critical political endeavours, and given the need for theorising that makes sense of the sometimes bewildering current political context, we now invite contributions on the work of one of the most explicitly political pragmatists, John Dewey. Dewey’s thought has long constituted a philosophical resource, and his political engagement a fountain of inspiration, for critical theorists, activists, and policymakers. By bringing together scholars working on critical philosophies and John Dewey, we wish to shed light on the following:

  • What is new about contemporary political practice and thought? What is merely echoing the thinking and affective investments of previous political moments? What is critical about this moment in time?
  • How can we draw on the philosophy of John Dewey to make sense of contemporary political contexts?
  • How can we bring together Dewey’s critical, philosophical project, with theorists working in a variety of critical areas, such as feminism, queer theory, critical race theory, and disability studies?
  • How might theorisations drawing on Dewey inform contemporary political contexts and policy approaches (to, for instance, immigration, globalisation, global governance structures, or democratic institutions)? What promise do they hold for political change?
  • How can we motivate a case for pragmatist views on hope and meliorism?
  • Can the idea of a critical philosophy shed light on the idea of political crises and responses to crises?

While engaging the conference theme of ‘John Dewey and Critical Philosophies for Critical Political Times’, we therefore encourage authors to address these questions by submitting abstracts on the following topics (without being limited to these):

  • Trump, Brexit, and the rise of the far-right
  • The state of leftist politics and potential rehabilitations
  • The economic crisis, economic inequality, and class
  • Gender inequality and sexual violence
  • Militarisation and securitisation
  • Global warming and threats to the environment
  • Democracies and elections
  • Freedoms and limits on freedom
  • Nationalism, patriotism, and identities
  • White supremacy and imperialism

Given the interdisciplinary interest in John Dewey’s thought and critical philosophies, papers from a variety of disciplines, including gender studies, philosophy, politics, sociology, cultural studies, and history, are welcome.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Prof. Charlene Seigfried (Purdue University)
Prof. Matthew Festenstein (University of York)

Please submit abstracts of not more than 500 words by July 7th 2017 to clara.fischer@ucd.ie. Successful applicants will be contacted by 17th July.

This conference is supported by the Mind Association, the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, and UCD School of Philosophy.

Conference organisers:

Clara Fischer (University College Dublin)
Conor Morris (University College Dublin)

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