The Practice of Governing Institutions (16th Annual Conference of the International Society for MacIntyrean Enquiry)

Peter Wicks's picture
Call for Papers
June 29, 2023 to July 1, 2023
Subject Fields: 
Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology

The International Society for MacIntyrean Enquiry invites paper proposals for its sixteenth annual conference, to be held at the University of Navarra. Proposals of between 300 and 600 words should be sent as an email attachment to

The deadline for submissions is February 15, 2023.

A common complaint among scholars is that Alasdair MacIntyre has no full political theory. Whether or not this is true, MacIntyre’s practical thought has focused, to a striking degree, on institutions other than the state. Without denying the material importance of national governments, he shifts the normative locus of contemporary political deliberation and governance to smaller social forms that still have the potential to cultivate shared virtue and practical rationality.           

The 2023 ISME conference, on the theme of “The Practice of Governing Institutions,”  hosted by the University of Navarra, invites paper proposals from any disciplinary perspective that engage MacIntyre’s provocative approach to the many spheres of governance.

MacIntyre’s distinction between institutions and practices (and the corresponding goods of efficiency and excellence) arguably marks his greatest contribution to the theory of organizational life, or of practical reason more generally.  These two aspects of durable cooperation stand at the core of his account of virtue as well as his moral sociology and his critique of modernity. As analytic categories, they permit MacIntyre to sketch contrasting genres of shared reasoning and dominant character-types, to narrate insightful histories of social change, and ultimately, to propose a general normative hierarchy, viz. that healthy institutions primarily serve the common goods of practice. This practice-oriented approach to common life and governance demands a profound re-thinking of many fields of conventional social explanation, and likewise of normative theories of the proper goals and standards of social cooperation. 

Many fruitful questions swirl around this basic distinction and the approach to leadership, governance, and cooperation that MacIntyre builds around it. 

In addition to papers on these and similar questions, we welcome proposals on any other themes from the work of Alasdair MacIntyre, in keeping with ISME conference tradition.

  • How widely does MacIntyre’s approach to governance apply — does it illuminate today’s dominant institutions as well as the specialized, often non-modern examples that he foregrounds? 
  • What are the ramifications of MacIntyre’s approach for contemporary institutions that do not have “goods of practice” at their heart — from routinized supply-chain work to career-oriented education? 
  • Can MacIntyre’s claims about governance be verified, especially by thinkers who do not share his fuller philosophical framework?  
  • What are the practical and intellectual advantages, and also disadvantages, of understanding governance (in a given sphere) as a practice?  
  • How might MacIntyre’s approach to governance correct, or be corrected by, the insights of the various social sciences? 
  • What is the relationship between politics proper and other institutions, or between various spheres of extra-political governance?
Contact Info: 

Correspondence about the conference may be directed to the conference secretary, Dulce M. Redin Goñi ( For more information about ISME's work, or to join the Society, contact the Executive Secretary, Peter Wicks (