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Good ends and dubious means: rule breaking and justification 
Soumhya Venkatesan (University of Manchester)
Olly Owen (Oxford University)
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Panel Roundtable Workshop
Thursday 24 June, 14:00-15:45 (UTC+3)

Short Abstract:

How does the privileging of ends inform rule-breaking, i.e. adopting means that rule-breakers themselves acknowledge as 'off', even illegal? This topical question begs exploration in a world of COVID19 restrictions, climate activism, right wing nationalism, and tax-avoiding philanthropists.

Long Abstract

The relationship between ends and means is one that has long occupied not only philosophers, but also anyone interested in bringing about a certain desired change or with a clear goal in sight. The goals may be large and long-term (e.g. reversing anthropogenic climate change) or much more circumscribed (get Brexit done by shutting down nay-sayers in the UK Parliament). This panel explores the relationship between ends and means by focusing on rule-breaking. In other words, we ask how rule-breaking is justified as necessary to a project deemed important and worthy. We invite papers that explore the evaluative and ends-oriented dimensions of rule breaking, whether these ends be focused on large-scale socio-political change, domestic cohesion and reproduction, or individual salvation or this-worldly well-being. We are interested in individuals' or groups' relationships to rules, including the ways in which they posit hierarchies of rules. We are also interested in abstract understandings about rules - how they are placed in relation with abstract ideals such as freedom or sovereignty, and to concrete concerns such as wealth, family, employment, education, religious observance and so on. We are also interested in rules that almost seem made to be broken, often found in the religious domain but also increasingly in those applying to migrants in some countries, which both prohibit them from working and also from any welfare support. We hope to build a rich panel that, in exploring the above kinds of questions, opens up ethical aspects of rule-breaking including evaluations, justifications and aporia.

Accepted contributions: