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Call for papers for the 1st Oxford Symposium on Comparative Political Philosophy


10th – 12th July, 2019

Blavatnik School of Government, The University of Oxford


Keynote Speaker: Prof. Stephen C. Angle (Wesleyan University)

This is a group of scholars aiming to facilitate substantive philosophical argument amongst political theorists across diverse cultural traditions. In recent years there has been an increasing interest among Anglo-American political theorists in comparing the diverse ways of how the thinkers of different cultural traditions address political issues. Several academic publishers (such as Cambridge University Press and Princeton University Press) and journals (such as American Political Science Review and European Journal of Political Theory) have published work about Confucian, Islamic, Indian and African political theories. Yet despite this growing body of literature, there is still inadequate substantive engagement across different traditions about fundamental questions in political theory and public policy. The driving interest of our project is to promote such engagement, comparing competing (or possibly similar) answers to substantive questions, testing arguments and assumptions across traditions in philosophical debate, and then ask whether this debate can shed light on questions of substantive policy.

With these issues in mind, the organizers attempt to create a regular platform for fruitful cooperation and exchange of ideas among comparative political theorists. This three-day symposium is the first step. Scholars are invited to present their recent, original research in this subfield. The symposium each year will be organized around a particular theme in political theory and public policy.

This year the main theme is “political legitimacy” and they invite Prof. Stephen C. Angle (Wesleyan University) to be the keynote speaker. They welcome comparative political theorists to address questions such as:

  • What conceptions of legitimacy are there in different cultural traditions?
  • How do thinkers from different traditions discuss and understand political authority?
  • How do competing conceptions of legitimacy relate to democracy, equality, and hierarchy?
  • What role does expertise, virtue and/or trust play in grounding authority?
  • How are policy-making, institutional design, as well as governance benefited from learning non-Western perspectives on legitimacy?
  • Can comparative political theory shed light on current discussions of the right of self-determination?
  • How do societies from different traditions view the legitimacy of particular policies on health care, education, genetic enhancement, etc.?
  • What role should public justification and religious considerations play in a law-making procedure from comparative perspective?
  • How do we compare theories of resistance and revolution in different traditions?
  • Is it legitimate to engage in cultural and national assimilation of citizens and immigrants?

They particularly encourage contributions that address topics that have been neglected so far or consider established interpretations and arguments from a different angle.


Abstracts should be 500-1000 words. Please send your abstract and contact details to, by 31st December, 2018. Decision will be made by the end of January, 2019.

Upon acceptance, they will ask all presenters to pre-circulate their full papers amongst participants in 10th June 2019. They will allocate around 60 minutes to each paper, with presentations of 20-30 minutes and 30-40 minutes of Q&A.

Organizers are also contacting academic publishers (such as Oxford University Press) and have a plan to publish a number of selected conference papers in an edited volume. Details will be announced afterwards.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact Baldwin Wong (, Elton Chan (, Larry Lai ( and Nikolas Kirby (

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