Lorentz Center workshop "The Morality of Inequality”
9-13 may 2016
Theme and Aim
In the public arena, discussions of the most pressing problems of our time (e.g., climate change, social inequality, religious conflicts) tend to emphasize rational and economic explanations and solutions. For example, debates on gender equality and ways to motivate companies to hire and promote more women, tend to focus on what has been called the ‘business case for diversity’. This approach emphasizes how companies benefit financially from a diverse workforce. Similarly, governmental climate policies are presented as ‘the smart way to go’ by accentuating how these may help people save expenses on their energy bill. What is often missing from the public debate is a consideration for the moral dimensions of these issues.
This workshop aims to elucidate how taking a moral perspective on societal issues may benefit our understanding of social inequality, and can even help address (rather than problematize) pressing societal problems more effectively. The workshop will be considered a success, if we have developed a theoretical model, based on scientific insights from different disciplines, that elucidates the added value of morality to explain inequality in society. Moreover, we aim to examine the added value of this general analysis in informing and advancing the public debate, by testing whether we can successfully apply it to improve our understanding of a four pressing societal issues relating to inequality: 1. Migration, 2. the Environment, 3. Work and education, and 4. Health.
The concrete form in which we want to do this is by working towards a final theoretical model, and preparation of a monograph in which we will present the model and its applicability. This monograph will be co-authored by all workshop participants– targeting a broad audience of scientists as well as policy makers. In addition we want to explore the possibilities to form a consortium to actually conduct research, and apply for funding (e.g., the Horizon 2020 program).