Junior Workshop 6:
Civil Liberties in Times of Crisis
The events of 9/11, and the security measures enacted in response, have sparked fierce debate on the question of how best to balance the pursuit of security with the protection of civil liberties. This is not the first time that such a debate has occurred – the course of the twentieth century provides numerous instances of the same, most notably during World War II and the Cold War. What is different about the contemporary period though, is the sense that the insecurity, and the intrusions it warrants, might be of a more permanent and enduring nature than previously experienced. The issue of balancing security and liberty has also come to occupy scholarly and public debate because there are sadly too many examples – past and present – of a failure to strike the appropriate balance.
This workshop will engage with this debate. We will approach the problem primarily from a political and ethical perspective, examining topics such as who should be allowed to exercise emergency powers and under what circumstances, if torture ought to be allowed in extenuating circumstances, whether surveillance and wiretapping should be authorized, if conscription and extended tours of duty are just, and whether ‘profiling’ ought to be permitted.
Students are welcome to write on the broader historical and political questions associated with protecting civil liberties in times of crisis or to examine the acceptability of specific practices, such as ‘water boarding’ and ‘extraordinary rendition’.