Publish Date: 07.11.2022

Category: News from the University

University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Educational Research Institute, Slovenia, invite you to the international symposium on talents, distributive justice and education systems. The symposium will take place at the University of Ljubljana on November 16 2022.

Symposium presentation:

For much of its history, the notion of talent has been associated with the idea of ‘careers open to talent’. Its emancipatory promise of upward social mobility has ultimately radically transformed the distribution of advantaged social positions and has had a lasting influence on the very idea of social status itself. Besides its inextricable link with equality of educational opportunity, the notion of talent came to be associated also with some of the most pressing contemporary issues as diverse as the ‘war for talent’, brain drain, immigration policies, talent management, global meritocracy, the ‘excellence gap’, the ‘ownership’ of natural resources, ability taxation, higher education etc.

Nevertheless, while central to egalitarian conceptions of distributive justice, the notion of talent remains to a large extent absent from the voluminous literature on these [and related] issues. Unlike concepts traditionally associated with distributive justice, e.g., fairness, (in)equality, desert, equality of opportunity as well as justice itself, the notion of talent has received only limited examination. At the same time, several egalitarian scholars started to perceive talents as a form of unfair advantage as holding a particular talent is arbitrary from a moral perspective. On this basis, some proponents of egalitarianism have derived the conclusion that individuals may not deserve the results of the ‘lottery of birth’ and have equated talents [as a form of ‘natural’ inequality] with ‘social’ inequality.

This symposium entitled Talents and Distributive Justice brings together several of the contributors to the journal special issue of Educational Philosophy and Theory (vol. 53, no. 8) published also in the Routledge Special-Issues-as-Books series (https://

Speakers will address a wide range of issues, problems, and challenges arising out of a reductionist understanding of talents’ anatomy, a distorted characterization of their overall distributive value or talents’ non-voluntaristic nature, the global war for talent (in particular in higher education) etc.

The symposium will be organized in hybrid form allowing full online and offline participation. The offline event will take place at the University of Ljubljana, Kongresni trg 12 (the Rectorate building).

The event is endorsed by PESA (Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia).

Symposium program:

14.00 - 14.10 (CET)

Symposium opening (prof. Boštjan Markoli, Vice-Rector, University of Ljubljana)

14.10 - 14.35 (CET)

Prof. Kirsten Meyer (Humboldt University, Germany)
Talents, Potentials and Educational Justice

14.35 - 15.00 (CET)

Prof. Johannes Giesinger (University of Zurich, Switzerland)
Against Selection: Educational Justice and the Ascription of Talent

15.00 - 15.25 (CET)

Prof. Mark Vopat (Youngstown State University, USA)
The Belief in Innate Talent and its Implications for Distributive Justice 

15.25–15.50 (CET)

Prof. Winston C. Thompson (The Ohio State University, USA)
A Limited Defense of Talent as a Criterion for Access to Educational Opportunities

15.50 - 16.15 (CET)

Dr. Mitja Sardoč (Educational Research Institute, Slovenia) & Prof. Tomaž Deželan (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Talents and distributive justice: some tensions

16.15 - 17.30 (CET)

Panel discussion (Prof. Ksenija Vidmar Horvat, Vice-Rector, University of Ljubljana and other panelists and invited guests) and symposium closing


This symposium will be recorded and made available simultaneously via Facebook and other social platforms. Once recorded, the symposium will be available online.

Any queries related to this symposium and its program are to be sent to the symposium coordinators Dr. Mitja Sardoc (email: ) and/or Prof. Tomaž Deželan ().

Please confirm your online or offline participation with the registration by 15 November 2022.

alenti, distributivna pravičnost in izobraževalni sistemi