Freedom, Power, and Personal Identity in American Pluralism

Eric  Bain-Selbo's picture
Type: 
Call for Papers
Date: 
April 15, 2018
Location: 
Washington, United States
Subject Fields: 
Political Science, Philosophy, American History / Studies, Psychology, Sociology

The 2018 Annual Meeting of the Society for Values in Higher Education will explore how personal identities shape and are shaped by the realities of pluralism together with different sorts of, and imbalances of, power. In particular, we ask: Can the formation of a rich plurality of personal identities be consistent with the existence of a collective or national identity? We invite proposals for individual and panel presentations around the following questions (though not limited to these):

  • While we often talk of freedom, what do we mean by it? Are we referring to a Hobbesian/Lockean liberal model of liberation from constraints? Or are we taking a republican position and underscoring the need for self-restraint, the rule of law, and active citizenship? A Hegelian idea of development of individuality culminating in a shared common life in an integrated community of love and reason as defined in religion? A Marxist view of positive freedom attained through converting the state from an organ superimposed upon society into one subordinate to it? Something else? How might the way we think of freedom be related to how we think of the relationship of personal identity to collective or national identity?
  • How do we determine and ensure the proper stewardship of power? How best do we distribute political power? Does our federalist system secure the general welfare? And what about cultural, social, and economic power—who decides who wields these more abstract forms of power? And how is power implicated in the individual’s pursuit of personal identity?
  • How fluid or static are national, ethnic, religious, racial, sexual and gender identities? Who gets to decide? Do such identities function to secure the common good? How do they interact with materialism, consumerism, nationalism, individualism, and despotism?
  • Is a moral consensus possible, one that serves as a point of departure for the plurality of identities represented in American society? Can leftIs a moral consensus possible, one that serves as a point of departure for the plurality of identities represented in American society? Can left and right agree on a general set of objective features? If not, or if none exist, what then is the way forward?
  • Is civil discourse—discourse that results in actualizing human goods and services (such as affordable health care for all)—possible? How do we model spirited discourse such that the human dignity of all sides is recognized and respected, no fundamental commitments are de-legitimized, and a compromise leading to balance between individual and common goods is struck? How does a plurality of personal identities help or harm our public discourse, and how best can we move forward?

Submit your proposal of no more than 1000 words using the online form. Proposals will be reviewed as they are submitted.

  • Interdisciplinary and/or practice oriented proposals are especially encouraged.
  • Those who have papers accepted and are able to attend benefit from a reduced conference registration rate.
  • Unable to come to Seattle? Take advantage of the opportunity to present virtually.
  • Two papers will be selected for the Robert Spivey Excellence in Scholarship Awards which includes a prize of $300 each. Completed papers must be submitted by July 1, 2018 to be eligible.

Please complete the online form and attach your paper/panel proposal.  Proposal submissions are accepted on a rolling basis until APRIL 15, 2018. Deadline for final papers is July 1, 2018.  Proposals will be reviewed as they are submitted.  Review will continue until all available slots are filled.  Interdisciplinary and/or practice oriented proposals are especially encouraged.

Contact Info: 

Eric Bain-Selbo

Executive Director

Society for Values in Higher Education

Contact Email: