Third Annual Conference: Justice and/or Peace?

In ordinary language peace usually stands for ‘freedom from disturbance‘ or ‘a state or period in which there is no war‘. Justice, in turn, is generally associated with ‘the quality of being fair and reasonable‘. In ethical and moral discourse the two are often discussed together, suggesting an internal, if delicate relationship. Consider three different voices: When, in addressing the United Nations, Pope Benedict quotes the prophet Isaiah that ‘justice will bring about peace; right will produce calm and security‘ the mere invocation of peace and justice as mutually interdependent already portends that the realities of global life probably do not (yet) live up to Catholic normative standards. John Rawls is more explicit when he argues that a ‘liberal people tries to assure reasonable justice for all its citizens and for all peoples‘ and ‘can live with other people of like character in upholding justice and preserving peace‘. Yet the qualifiers ‘liberal‘ and ‘reasonable‘ immediately suggest that demanding normative standards have to be met if both justice and peace are to obtain. Finally, political realists like to quote Thucydides’ assertion that ‘the standard of justice depends on the equality of power to compel’. In their view, peace is mainly a function of power – ‘the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept’.

Quoting these very different perspectives on justice and peace not only provides an initial taste of the difference in disciplinary language games. It also hints at how definitions predetermine the relationship between peace and justice, i.e. whether it is conceived in terms of equivalence or hierarchy, mutual dependence or exclusivity. The title of this conference, ‘Justice and/or Peace?‘, is meant to capture these different dimensions. As in previous years we have aimed at a broad array of disciplines and perspectives, mixing contributions from members of the Cluster with scholars from outside Frankfurt. Of course, perspectives will differ and may even clash. This is to be expected – not only due to the subject matter but also to different responses to the standards of the normative order of scholarly exchange. However, as conference organisers we have taken all precautionary measures to ensure that this exchange will be conducted in a fair and peaceful manner! What remains is for all participants – speakers, chairs and audience – also to help to render it a successful and productive exchange.

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