CFP: Workshop on expert rule (ECPR 2016)

Call for papers for the panel 'Was Plato Right? Should the Experts Rule?' at the ECPR Joint Sessions 2016 in Pisa. Deadline for paper proposals: 1 December 2015.

The leaning tower of Pisa (photo:

The panel 'Was Plato Right? Should the Experts Rule?' will be part of the 2016 Joint Sessions of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), to be held in Pisa on 24-28 April 2016.

  • Director: Cathrine Holst, ARENA, University of Oslo
  • Director: Bo Rothstein, Quality of Government Institute, University of Gothenburg


Democracy is haunted by significant performance problems. At the same time democratic political rule is challenged in many countries as well as in transnational polities such as the EU by an accelerating expertification of political processes and policy-making. These real world developments are paralleled by the recent “epistemic turn” in political theory, where familiar normative justifications of democracy, stressing the inherent value of political equality and democratic inclusion, are challenged by accounts focusing on decision quality and good outcomes, and the arguably indispensable role of expertise in the setting up of “truth-tracking” political procedures. This raises questions of whether expert rule, “rule of the knowers” or “epistocracy”, to borrow political philosopher David Estlund’s term, would be able to outperform democracy as we know it, producing policies that stand a better chance of being “good” or “true” and improving on human well-being. Thus the question Plato raised – why not a rule by the most knowledgeable instead of a rule by the many – is again a central issue in political theory and empirical research.

The purpose of this workshop is to take up the challenge from epistocracy in its recent shapes, and bring together research on democracy’s performance and the relationship between democracy, quality of government and standard measures of human well-being, with research on the role of expertise in policy-making, expertise institutionalization and expert performance, and normative political theory contributions on the challenge from epistocracy and the legitimate role of expertise and expert arrangements in modern societies.

Paper proposals

Paper proposals can be submitted through a form on the website. Please note that paper proposals sent directly to workshop directors will not be considered.

Deadline: 1 December 2015

Published Aug. 18, 2015 11:33 AM - Last modified Sep. 7, 2021 10:38 AM