Project Description


Reflective equilibrium
51 years after A Theory of Justice


University of Bern, Switzerland, 12.–14. May 2022


A lasting influence of John Rawls’s seminal A Theory of Justice is the undiminished popularity of reflective equilibrium in ethics. The basic idea is that moral judgements and principles are justified by being brought into agreement in a process of mutual adjustments. Historically, RE goes back to Nelson Goodman, who described reflective equilibrium as a method for justifying logical inferences and theories. Other philosophers have appealed to RE in almost all fields of philosophy, and some consider RE to be the method of philosophy, as notably did David Lewis. Nonetheless, attempts at an in-depth analysis of RE have been scarce, and very few have made a sustained effort to develop the method in detail – which is surprising for such an influential idea.

At this conference, defenders and detractors of RE from all fields of philosophy discuss basic questions, possible developments and applications, as well as challenges and defences.


Invited speakers:

Catherine Z. Elgin (Harvard)
Federica Malfatti (Innsbruck)
Finnur Dellsén (Reykjavik/Lillehammer)
Folke Tersman (Uppsala)
Kenneth Walden (Dartmouth)
Tanja Rechnitzer (Hannover)


Contributed talks:

Bert Baumgaertner (Idaho)
Eleonora Cresto (Buenos Aires)
Loren King (Waterloo)
Marina Moreno and Adriano Mannino (Munich)
Murray Smith (Kent)


PhD sessions:

Two parallel pre-read sessions are reserved to discussing PhD projects by

Andreas Freivogel (Bern)
Charlie Harry Smith (Oxford)
Kevin Helms (Bremen)
Paige Benton (Pretoria)
Richard Lohse (Karlsruhe)

The papers for the PhD sessions will be available on April 15th. Please register to get access.



The provisional Programme is here and the abstracts can be found here.


Scientific committee:

Catherine Z. Elgin (Harvard); Folke Tersman (Uppsala); Georg Brun (Bern); Tanja Rechnitzer (Hannover).


Organized by:

SNSF-Project “How Far Does Reflective Equilibrium Take Us?” (Institute of Philosophy, University of Bern; DebateLab at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) and Institute for Future Studies, Stockholm.



Attendance is free, but the number of participants is limited. Please register by e-mail:


Supported by:


Logos SNF DFG und IFS