Charles Taylor at 80: An international conference


Event celebrates prominent philosopher’s career and contributions

Montreal native, McGill alumnus and professor emeritus, and leading Canadian philosopher and public intellectual Charles Taylor will be the subject and the guest of honour at a major conference to be held at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on March 29 – 31 2012, “Charles Taylor at 80: An International Conference.” Over the course of these three days, his scholarly work, as well as his contributions to public life, will be analyzed by scholars from around the world.

"Charles Taylor has had a lasting influence on generations of scholars in the humanities and social sciences, in Canada and around the world", says Daniel Weinstock of the Université de Montréal. "The response to the announcement of the conference has been overwhelming".

The conference will feature presentations on many aspects of Taylor’s work in political science and philosophy by some of the world’s most prominent social scientists and theorists.  Among them are Craig Calhoun, the incoming Director of the London School of Economics; Tariq Modood (University of Bristol), a leading scholar on ethnic and religious minorities in Britain; Jean Bethke Elshtain (University of Chicago), a renowned political ethicist in the United States; Anthony Appiah (Princeton), the Ghanian-British-American philosopher whose work on cosmopolitanism, race, and identity was recently recognized with the U.S. National Humanities Medal; and Joseph Heath (University of Toronto), a former Taylor student who is now a prominent commentator on ethics and economics in Canada.  A total of 27 scholars from seven countries and three continents will deliver papers on Taylor’s work.

On the evening of March 30, a special session will focus on Taylor’s public career. “From the founding of the NDP and debates about repatriation, federalism and Quebec’s status to his work on multiculturalism and religious accommodation, Taylor has gone far beyond the usual categories of ‘public intellectual’ or ‘engaged intellectual,’” said Prof. Jacob Levy of McGill University.  “For decades he has been an important participant in the public life of Montreal, Quebec, and Canada, bringing his distinctive vision of political community and shared membership to bear on live political debates.”  The participants in that panel will include retired Supreme Court Justice Michel Bastarache.

In recent years, Taylor has perhaps been best-known for his work on religion: co-leading, along with Gerard Bouchard, what became known as the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on reasonable accommodation of religious minorities in 2008-2009, receiving the Templeton Prize for scholarly inquiry into life’s spiritual dimension in 2007, and publishing that same year his monumental study A Secular Age.

In his 50-year career, Charles Taylor has published some 15 books on topics from Hegel to methodology in the social sciences to multiculturalism; held the Chichele Chair at Oxford University (previously held by his advisor Isaiah Berlin, and later by another native Montrealer, G.A. Cohen); delivered the Massey Lectures; and been honoured with the Kyoto Prize and membership in the Order of Canada, the National Order of Quebec, and the Royal Society of Canada.  He has been engaged in Canadian politics for nearly that whole time, standing for election to Parliament from Montreal four times in the 1960s as a member of the NDP, once losing to Pierre Elliot Trudeau in the latter’s first campaign.

*Discussions will be in French and English

For more information:



Registration is required and free of charge. To register, please send name, affiliation and contact information to: taylor.conference.2012 [at]


More about the conference:

The conference is co-organized by Daniel Weinstock, Canada Research Chair in Ethics and Political philosophy at Université de Montréal; Jocelyn Maclure, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Université Laval; and Jacob T. Levy, Tomlinson Professor of Political Theory at McGill University. It is a collaboration of the Montreal Groupe de recherche interuniversitaire en philosophie politique (GRIPP), the Centre de recherche en éthique de l’Université de Montréal (CREUM), and the McGill Research Group on Constitutional Studies (RGCS).


Contact Information

Cynthia Lee
McGill University
cynthia.lee [at]
Office Phone: