[SIGCIS-Members] CFP: Just Computation - Social and Historical Perspectives on Calculation in the Law

Michael McGovern mmcgovern at princeton.edu
Tue Feb 7 14:24:37 PST 2023


Hopefully this CFP will be of interest to a few people on this list!

Take care,
Mikey McGovern


Call for Papers

Just Computation? Social and Historical Perspectives on Calculation in Law

Harvard University

Sept 8-9th, 2023

Datasets, algorithms, and statistical models are increasingly dominating
legal spaces as instruments for rendering “just” decisions. Academic and
popular critiques have shown that the application of such tools to delicate
social problems exacerbates the very inequities they were meant to curb,
whether in allocating welfare, evaluating credit, hiring, policing, and so
on. Missing from this ongoing discussion, however, is a broader perspective
on how computation has shaped—and been shaped by—law and governance across
time and place. How have different legal orders made sense of numbers and
new methods of calculation? How does the law shape the conditions under
which numerical evidence is deemed legitimate? Why have political
communities come to accept that fraught matters of justice might be
resolved through recondite numbers, and how has that commitment evolved? At
a time when the authority of quantitative tools is on the rise, what can
courtroom contests tell us about the making of facts and their history?

This conference provides an opportunity to grapple with these and other
pressing questions by inquiring deeper into the history and politics of
numbers as evidence, legal proof, policy instruments, and even tools for
representing and contesting injustice. We will bring together scholars from
a host of disciplines including the humanities and social sciences, data
science and legal studies interested in how the quantification of social
life and decision-making raises fundamental concerns about justice and
fairness across different time periods and geographies. We believe that
approaching these questions from a critical perspective can help invigorate
and inform the vital discussions that have formed around “AI ethics” and
“Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency” in computing systems. By
convening a rich, interdisciplinary conversation on the relationship
between law and computation, broadly construed, we hope to attract a range
of scholars interested in honing their work for a special issue on these
complicated and urgent issues.

We seek papers from scholars from across the humanities and social
sciences, as well as those coming from schools of information, policy, and
law. Early career scholars in particular are encouraged to apply. While the
workshop is oriented toward contemporary issues, it seeks to re-frame them
by bringing different time periods and geographies to the table, so we are
interested in submissions that consider these questions beyond the
contemporary Global North. We will also accept co-authored papers.

This conference will be a platform for authors to workshop papers intended
for a special issue of the interdisciplinary legal studies journal such as Law
& Social Inquiry, whose editors have expressed interest. Though we intend
to submit abstracts as a proposal for this journal, we remain open to
alternatives and will discuss options over the course of the workshop.
Accepted participants will be asked to submit a draft paper (max. 8000
words) and give a short presentation on their material for feedback from
the group. Further deadlines and requirements will be specified depending
on the format of the journal and the intended publication schedule. Please
submit your abstracts to the conference only if you are willing to
eventually submit your paper for a special issue. We will aim for final
papers to be submitted by the end of the year 2023.


March 24: Deadline to submit abstracts

Mid-April: Decisions sent out for accepted abstracts

End July: Deadline to submit final papers for internal circulations

Sept 8-9: In-person workshop in Cambridge, MA

End of 2023: Submit final papers

For presenters traveling from outside of the Boston area, we will guarantee
travel stipends of $400, with the possibility of more funding and housing
assistance as we secure more partnerships.


Michael F. McGovern (mmcgovern at princeton.edu)

Program in the History of Science | Princeton University

Pariroo Rattan (pariroorattan at g.harvard.edu)

Program in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School | Harvard University

William Deringer (deringer at mit.edu)

Program in Science, Technology, and Society | Massachusetts Institute of

Please submit your 400-word abstract (not including references) and a short
bio of no more than 250 words by March 24th via this submission form
Authors whose papers are accepted will be expected to provide full paper
drafts two weeks prior to the conference, which will be circulated to all
conference participants. Please send your questions to
justcomputation2023 at gmail.com. We look forward to reading your submissions!

Michael F. McGovern
PhD Candidate, History of Science
Princeton University
mmcgovern at princeton.edu
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