Max Weber Programme Conferences

Each year the Max Weber Programme hosts at least three major conferences: an Academic Careers Conference in the fall, a Classics Revisited Conference in the winter, and in the spring a Social Issues for Social Sciences Conference.

Academic Careers MWP Conferences:

The Academic Careers Observatory (ACO) together with the MWP organizes a yearly conference which provide a forum for reflection, analysis and debate on the current state of the 'European Research and Higher Education Area', taking into account, in particular, the perspective of young researchers in the Social Sciences and Humanities.

Through these conferences, the MWP-ACO explores and compares the structures of the academe across countries, discusses crucial questions related to the international mobility of scholars and monitors the development of research and funding opportunities for young scholars.

The Classics Revisited MWP Conferences:

The yearly Classics Revisited Conference provides a forum for reflection on, and analysis and debate of, the current state of some major issues that have already been raised by pioneer social scientists. The conference sees the active participation of the Fellows in the planning and organization of it.

Social Issues for Social Sciences Conference:

This conference is the Max Weber Fellows’ contribution to the Social Sciences and Humanities in research and academia. The conference offers the opportunity to invite back former fellows as either speakers or discussants and as such provides a forum to foster cross-disciplinary and inter-cohort academic collaboration. The conference is entirely organized by the fellows. 


Next Max Weber Programme Conference:

"Empathy and Competition: A 21st Century View on Adam Smith"
8th MWP Classics Revisited Conference
7 May 2014, 9:00-19:00
Conference Room, Villa La Fonte



Every year the Max Weber Programme holds a ‘Classics Revisited’ conference, bringing together researchers, postdoctoral fellows and established academics to study the life and work of a defining figure in the history of ideas. Reflecting the values of the Max Weber Programme, the conference is always interdisciplinary in nature, inviting contributions from the political and social sciences, history, law and economics. Past conferences have focused on David Hume, Thomas Hobbes, and Niccolò Machiavelli. This year’s conference turns to the great Scottish Enlightenment figure, Adam Smith.

As well as taking on the perennial question of the compatibility between Smith’s moral and economic ideas, the conference will consider Smith’s standing in relation to current economic thought. The Wealth of Nations is sometimes described as the first systematic attempt to explain the mechanics of capitalism, but how closely does it fit in with modern theories of economic behaviour? Are the specific benefits from trade and competition that Smith envisaged compatible with today’s models? More broadly, could today’s economists benefit from paying closer attention to moral sentiments beyond self-­‐interest?

We will likewise consider the relevance of Smith as a normative theorist. His famous ‘impartial spectator’ was intended as a guide to morality and legal adjudication, but it presupposes a spectator with a particular moral code. Does this imply too relativistic a criterion? Put differently, is empathy too much in the eye of the beholder to be the basis for morality?

It is also unclear that the impartial spectator could be a sound basis for legal and political decision-­‐making. In this regard, a lingering puzzle among commentators is why Smith never produced a full account of justice, as he had promised in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Does this failure reveal something about Smith’s views on the nature of just political rule, or about the compatibility of his economic and moral ideas? What substantive conclusions about the proper scope and design of state institutions may be drawn from Smith’s account of institutional development in his ‘historical jurisprudence’? 

Programme (pdf)

Organizers: Charles Brendon; Matthew Hoye; Pablo Kalmanovitz; Robert Lepenies; Magdalena Malecka; Ramon Marimon; Fran Meissner; Valerie McGuire; Brandon Restrepo; Michael Rousakis; Jesper RudigerKarin Tilmans.

All welcome but please register


 Max Weber Programme Conferences 2013-2014


Page last updated on 24 April 2014