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Journal of Global Ethics Special Issue

Abstracts Due: September 30, 2019

Louis Joseph Lebret and the development of peoples: on his work and legacy

Louis Joseph Lebret (1897-1966) was arguably the founder of ‘development ethics’ as a self-declared body of research, public conversation and activism. A French Dominican priest, economist, development planner and philosopher, for many years engaged with French fishing communities, industrial worker communities, and urban planning programs, he founded the movement Economie et Humanisme in 1941. From the late 1940s he extended his attention from France to Latin America, and later to Africa and Asia. He founded a number of other institutes and organizations and published numerous books in French of which several were translated into English, Spanish and Portuguese. His writings ranged from conspectuses of global trajectory, through theorizing of ‘integral human development’, to practical development plans and textbooks of methods. Denis Goulet (1931-2006), the American philosopher-social planner who brought a largely similar perspective into English language literature, was Lebret's pupil and protege. Finally, Lebret was a key figure behind the progressive social doctrines that were advanced during the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church (1962-65), including in Gaudium et spes (the pastoral constitution for the Church). Lebret was the principal investigator of Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio, or ‘the development of peoples,’ (1967), which oriented subsequent generations of Catholic development work.

Lebret is relatively well known still in France, as he had many associates and pupils. There are active Lebret centers and programs throughout the world including a Lebret institute (Centre international Développement et Civilisations - Lebret-Irfed) in Paris and the Lebret program at the Centro Dominico de Investigación (the Dominican Center for Research) in Costa Rica. Several books about him and his work were published soon after his death and again around the centenary of his birth, plus books and papers in recent years about his influence in Latin America, in Senegal, in Catholic social thought, and in urban community development. Yet, he appears too little known in English-language development ethics, other than via an essay by Goulet (1974, reprinted in his 2006 book of selected papers).

This special issue of the Journal of Global Ethics seeks to bring together the work of researchers and practitioners from diverse backgrounds on the large body of work of Lebret and his closest associates and its degree of continuing influence and relevance within development practice and development ethics.

We invite proposals of up to 500 words (plus references) on Lebret’s written and/or activist practitioner work and its legacy. Topics may include, but are not restricted to the following:

  • Lebret and the field of development ethics
  • Lebret and the field of global ethics
  • Lebret and integral human development
  • Lebret, human needs and human psychology
  • Lebret and participatory development
  • Lebret and human economy
  • Lebret and workers' movements
  • Lebret and urban development
  • Lebret and sustainable development
  • Lebret and Marxism
  • Lebret and Jacques Maritain
  • Lebret and liberation theology
  • Lebret and Denis Goulet
  • Lebret and Catholic social thought and practice, including in relation to Pope Francis (and the Francesco economy movement), the common good, Catholic anthropology, and/or the practices of Caritas, Catholic Relief Services, etc.
  • Lebret in Latin America / Africa / Asia / Europe.


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Submission Instructions

Submission of abstracts (500 words): September 30, 2019. (Prospective authors are welcome to discuss with the guest editors in the period leading up to this deadline.)

Submission of full draft papers (typically 6,000 – 8,000 words): May 1, 2020

Expected publication: Spring 2021

Direct enquiries and submissions to: Des Gasper and Lori Keleher.

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Editorial information

Guest Editors:

Des Gasper (International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam) 

Lori Keleher (Department of Philosophy, New Mexico State University)


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