Analyse & Kritik

Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory


Evaluating Societies Morally?
2017 (40) Heft 2

We are planning a focal point on this topic in one of our 2017 issues. As both morality and ethical theory normally start from the judgement of single actions of individual agents, reflection is proper as to what extent the judgement of trans-individual entities is possible, and – if so – under which conditions. Trans-individual entities include collectives of different sizes, governments, societies (historical and present), economic systems, reforms, political revolutions, social transitions and progress. Social entities like these are connected with an agent-based frame only in a restricted way, often referred to by metaphorical language. How then to judge them along moral lines?

We are interested both in the methodological and normative approaches towards the empirical assessment of economic and social progress (as dealt with by the Stiglitz/Sen/Fitoussi commission, for example). How to identify and prioritize a selection of indicators to reach the morally most adequate evaluation of a society? We also need a discussion of the objections towards the moral judgement of trans-individual entities in a more basic and principled way. If one does not presuppose a kind of ethical consequentialism or welfare economics, which ethical theory or moral perspective would be most adequate to take up the challenge? How can present ethical theories of justice (Rawls, Sen-Nussbaum, etc.) be applied to existing societies, such as contemporary Turkey, Russia, the United States or countries like Brazil from a diachronic perspective? To what extent has this been accomplished and with what results? How to deal with the problem that moral judgement normally presupposes a better alternative ["could-have-done-differently"], something which is always unclear for existing societies? How to address questions of cultural relativity and basic differences of political opinion? Could human rights be the appropriate measure for making such normative judgements at a societal level?

Contributions are welcome and are due by the beginning of August 2017. For manuscript details please check our website: ("Manuskripteinreichung")

Contributions addressing these (and related) questions are highly welcome. If interested, please send a short abstract of your prospective article to one of the editors.


Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Universität Düsseldorf
Universitätsstr. 1
D-40225 Düsseldorf