Political Virtues & Political Emotions

Workshop at the Centre for Advanced Study in Bioethics

While in her recent book, Martha Nussbaum praised the role of (positive) political emotions, at the same time, a phenomenon called "post-truth politics" can be observed in the Western world. A workshop on 10 November will examine what political emotions are and how they relate to political virtues.

The workshop is organised by the Centre for Advanced Study in Bioethics and the Collaborative Research Centre / SFB 1150 "Cultures of Decision-Making". It will take place on 10 November 2016 at the Centre for Advanced Study in Bioethics (Geiststraße 24-26, Münster, Room GE 1.23). Everybody interested is welcome to participate in the workshop! However, since capacities are limited, please register by 2 November latest with: casb@wwu.de

Political Virtues & Political Emotions

In the face of events such as those which have led to the ‘Brexit’ referendum in Europe, the contested presidential elections in Austria, the upset caused by the envisaged total ban on abortion in Poland or the rugged and torn political landscape in the context of the 2016 election campaign in the US, it seems fairly hard to imagine ‘positive’ political emotions. We currently have to observe that and how ‘negative’ political emotions have entered the political rostrum again in a very unsettling way.

Yet, this workshop sets out from the assumption that the role of emotions in any kind of decision-making must not be underestimated and that there is need for further philosophical reflection on what role emotions can and should play and on how best to integrate emotions in political processes. The equation
of ‘emotions = populism = avenue to totalitarianism’, which in some form or other can be found in large parts of the literature of the twentieth century including authors as different as Cassirer, Habermas and Popper, seems lopsided and rather inadequate. The more recent intervention by Martha Nussbaum in her book on Political Emotions (Harvard University Press 2013) does not provide these answers either.

Against this background, the workshop raises questions ranging from which – if any – emotions might be characterized as ‘political’ to what can and should be done to ‘positively’ integrateemotions and ‘foster’ political virtue. It will be discussed what ‘political virtue’ consists in and how it relates to emotions. While the workshop addresses very specific problems from disciplinary perspectives in ethics, political philosophy, law and political sciences, it starts off with a key note address by Professor Robert Audi (Notre Dame, Indiana) doing the groundwork of exploring and analysing the semantic and normative dimensions of both political emotions and political virtues.


Thursday, 10 November 2016
9:00 – 19:15 Welcome & Introduction
Jörg Hardy, Tim Rojek & Katja Stoppenbrink
First Section: Political Virtues & Political Emotions:
Conceptual and Normative Issues
9:15 – 10:30 Keynote Address & Discussion
Robert Audi (Notre Dame)
Coffee break
Second Section: Emotions, Virtues & Ethical Theory
11:00 – 12:00 Political Narratives and Emotions
Tim Rojek (Münster)
12:00 – 13:00 Autonomy and the Love of Dignity
Jörg Hardy (Oxford/Münster)
Lunch break
Third Section: Emotions, Virtues & Political Theory
14:30 – 15:30 Political Virtues and Dystopian Emotions
Tommi Ralli (Bremen)
Coffee break
16:00 – 17:00 Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself?
 – From Mill's 'Common Sympathies' to a
'Sense of Belonging' as a Political Emotion
Katja Stoppenbrink (Münster)
Fourth Section: Emotions, Law & Judicial Decision-Making
17:00 – 18.00 Law, Politics & Disgust Revisited
Rodrigo de Souza Tavares (Rio de Janeiro)