Workshop: Data Sensitive Political Theory. University of Reading February 18 2020

Workshop: Data Sensitive Political Theory. University of Reading February 18 2020

What role should empirical evidence play in normative theorizing about politics? For example, should theories of distributive justice accommodate public beliefs about what’s fair? Does evidence about what happens in real world deliberations disrupt deliberative democratic theory? Debates about the place of empirical data in political theory have increasingly been at the fore of the discipline in recent years. However, whilst much of the recent methodological literature affirms some role for empirical evidence in political theory, there are fewer examples of political theorists engaging with data in a sustained way in their normative work. The workshop seeks to address this gap, by bringing together a group of established scholars and early career researchers to present a series of case studies in data-sensitive political theory. Each speaker will discuss work in which they have used empirical evidence to generate fresh perspectives on a normative problem. Projects will encompass a variety of forms of data, including qualitative interviews, surveys and experimental methods. Starting from these particular experiences of doing data-sensitive political theory, the workshop seeks to generate new insights into why and how normative theorists should engage with empirical evidence.

The one-day workshop will be organized around three substantive themes: distributive justice, democratic decision-making and migration. We hope that the event will be of interest to philosophers working on these topics, as well as to those engaged with methodological problems in political theory.


Afsoun Afsahi (Amsterdam) – Experiments in Deliberative Democracy: Facilitation and Increasing Discourse Quality

Alice Baderin (Reading), Lucy Barnes (UCL) and Lindsay Richards (Oxford) – Equality: Distributions and Relationships

Jamie Draper (Reading) – Reconstructing Internal Displacement Governance

Mollie Gerver (Essex) – Real Good Examples: Selecting Non-fictional Cases for Moral and Political Philosophy

David Miller (Oxford) – Needs-based Justice: Theory and Evidence

Jonathan Wolff (Oxford) – Public Reflective Disequilibrium


This event is sponsored by the Society for Applied Philosophy and the Independent Social Research Foundation. We gratefully acknowledge their support.


Lunch and dinner will be provided free of charge. All are welcome, but spaces are limited. For further details and registration, please visit:

Or email Alice Baderin:


Recent News

BIAPT prizes 2024


Clare Chambers on 'Talking Politics'