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WINIR-sponsored virtual event


Repugnant Behaviours


24-25 February 2021
University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France

Organiser: Alain Marciano



Formally introduced in economics by Nobel laureate Alvin Roth, the concept of "repugnance" arises in the debate among philosophers (e.g., Elizabeth Anderson, Michael Sandel, Debra Satz) and other social scientists (e.g., Kristie Blevins, Amitai Etzioni, Kimberly Krawiec, Amartya Sen, Philip Tetlock) about how and why moral concerns, taboos and sacred values place, or ought to place, limits on market transactions. (A set of representative references is provided in the attached call for papers.)

One of the most important questions in this debate is how repugnant behaviours should be dealt with, regulated or limited. Some suggest that repugnant behaviours should be punished by using fines rather than fees, because the former register moral disapproval, whereas the latter are simply prices that imply no moral judgment. This suggests that repugnant behaviors offend our moral or ethical values. Yet examples often used to illustrate repugnant behaviours include selling babies (or other human beings) and organs, as well as prostitution and sometimes even pollution. Littering the Grand Canyon is also deemed to be repugnant. But can all these behaviours be put on the same footing? If not, how ought we distinguish between them? Is repugnance an absolute concept or a relative one? Does it change across cultures? Does this mean that the limits of markets differ from one culture to another? If so, are we really talking about repugnance? What alternative concepts might be useful?

These questions are important from a philosophical, institutional and legal perspective. Indeed, can we rely on the same mechanism to punish someone who sold their child and someone who threw a can into the Grand Canyon? Must we rely on law and formal institutions to punish repugnant behaviours? Which ones? When and how do we draw the limit between the behaviours that can be punished by formal rules and those that must be punished by informal rules (such as ostracism, shaming or even embarrassment)?

The purpose of the WINIR Workshop on Repugnant Behaviours is to bring together theoretical and applied papers from different disciplines, including economics, philosophy, law and political science, to discuss these and other related questions, thereby clarifying the concept of “repugnance” and improving our understanding of how to regulate repugnant behaviours. 


Keynote speaker: Kimberly D. Krawiec (Duke Law School, USA)


The workshop will take place online (Zoom)

Participation: free, open to all


To register please contact [log in to unmask]


Wednesday 24 February 2021

15:00-18:15 CET





Alain Marciano (University of Montpellier, France)



"Repugnance as Moral Externality"


Élodie Bertrand (CNRS & University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France),



"Quality Signals on Markets for Repugnant Goods"


Erwin Dekker (Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Netherlands), Julien Gradoz (ENS Cachan, France) & Carolina Dalla Chiesa (Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Netherlands)



Keynote lecture


Kimberly D. Krawiec (Duke University, USA)




Thursday 25 February 2021

15:15-18:15 CET




"Is the Hierarchical Nature of the Firm Repugnant?"


Massimiliano Vatiero (Università di Trento, Italy & Università della Svizzera Italiana, Swizerland)



"Economic and Legal Accounts of Moral Repugnance"


Péter Cserne (University of Aberdeen, UK)



"Repugnance Across Different Moral and Legal Conceptual Schemes"


Robert Miller (University of Iowa, USA)








The World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research brings together scholars from across the social sciences and the humanities to promote the study of institutions and institutional thought around the world.

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