About the Conference

This conference is premised on the belief that there is an the urgent need for philosophers and scholars in closely related disciplines to explore (1) the ways in which poverty impacts individual agency and can function coercively with respect to choice and action, (2) the implications of poverty’s negative impact on individual agency with respect to conceptualizing and realizing social and economic human rights, and (3) the relations between non-fulfillment of social and economic human rights and sex trafficking, slavery, and economically-driven migration.

Key issues:

  1. What conception(s) or paradigm(s) of coercion underpin U.S. law and international law?  How do standard models of coercion – including coercive offers and coercive threats – play out with respect to social and economic human rights?
  2. What role(s) do conceptions of coercion play in diverse forms of human rights discourse?
  3. Do victims of failed national economies invoke coercion to talk about their plight?  In what ways does such everyday discourse bear on narrative ethics?
  4. Under what conditions is poverty a violation of a human right?  If poverty violates a human right, does it follow that poverty is a form of coercion? Are some kinds of poverty coercive and others noncoercive?
  5. Must legal/everyday understandings of coercion be modified to apply to the way poverty affects people?
  6. How does extreme, endemic poverty interfere with agency?
  7. In what ways can individuals exercise agency in conditions of extreme, endemic poverty?
  8. Does poverty force people to immigrate by legal or illegal means?  Is the mere capacity to migrate evidence that certain kinds of poverty are less (more) coercive than others?
  9. How do restrictions on immigration interact with anti-trafficking laws?
  10. What are the implications with respect to responsibility and the obligation to provide aid of the fact that destination countries provide markets, e.g., for trafficked sex workers and other forms of labor?
  11. If poverty can be coercive, what are the implications for immigration policy in destination countries?  What sorts of policies should implemented to protect the human rights of migrants (and would-be migrants)?
  12. Why is labor and civil rights law in destination countries failing to combat trafficking in humans?  How can legal reforms in destination countries effectively combat trafficking into sex work and domestic slavery?  Can labor law and civil rights law in destination countries effectively combat trafficking in sex work and domestic slavery without other types of social and cultural intervention?
  13. How do disparate conceptions of human rights (e.g., interactional vs. institutional, juridical vs. aspirational) and their correlative conceptions of duty (e.g., negative vs. positive, perfect vs. imperfect) affect our understanding of the agents, victims, and causes of human rights violations (deficits)?