Convenor: Michael Neu

The literature on dirty hands (DH) is fairly substantial by now. However,there are many explicit disagreements and implicit confusions in the debate.

This workshop is designed to identify, and perhaps begin to remedy, some ofthese. It is not precisely clear what DH are, and whether or not (and how) they differ from related notions, such as moral dilemmas, tragedies, and supreme emergencies. It is also not settled if the seemingly paradoxical notion of inescapable wrongdoing – on which any idea of dirty hands must, roughly, be based – makes moral sense. Also, there is disagreement on why wrongdoing is sometimes inescapable (if it is). Is this a result of moral pluralism in a contingent world? Of a clash between deontology and utilitarianism? Between particularism and universalism? Or between public ethics and ordinary morality?

Are these binary distinctions of any help for those who try to make sense of what politicians ought to do in a world of conflicting demands? Disagreements abound. Then there is the phenomenological question of appropriate sentiments: how should politicians understand, and feel about, their own justified, wrongful acts? Does this question matter? Is it, perhaps,   nherently dangerous?

Indeed, should the entire notion of dirty hands be abolished, considering that moral politics is unlikely not to be transformed into political moralism, and that the moralism of those who have the power to kill and let die tends to be particularly consequential (and, indeed, distasteful)? Paper-givers are invited, but should not feel restricted, to make proposals which address the aforementioned questions. They are welcome to do so from a broad range of analytical, historical, critical, and normative angles.