The lecture will include three sections. First, ten factors will be highlighted that have jointly contributed to make the larger social, historical, cultural and economic context where 21st century democracies must function more inhospitable than ever. Second, one of the main adaptive countermeasures, contained in the framework of Rawls’ “political liberalism”, will be reconstructed and argued to enable democratic regimes to survive and remain faithful to their distinctive idea of self-legislation on the part of the citizens. Finally, a number of suggestions will be offered for developing further the framework of “political liberalism” in the direction of a multivariate democratic polity sustained by an expanded and de-centered public ethos.
Alessandro Ferrara is Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Rome Tor Vergata (Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata), and former President of the Italian Association for Political Philosophy. He is the founder and Director of the Colloquium Philosophy & Society in Rome and the Director of the Center for the Study of Religions and Political Institutions in Post-Secular Society at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. Since 1991 he has been a Director of the Yearly Conference on Philosophy and Social Science in Prague (formerly held at the Interuniversity Centre of Dubrovnik). Since 2007 prof. Ferrara is on the Executive Committee of the Istanbul Seminars on Religion and Politics, held under the auspices of the Association Reset – Dialogues of Civilizations. He also serves as editorial consultant on the board of a number of journals including Constellations, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Krisis, Balsa de la Medusa, Iris and The European Journal of Philosphy. Professor Ferrara received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984, and conducted research with Jürgen Habermas as a Von Humboldt Fellow in Munich and Frankfurt. He has lectured in a number of universities and institutions, including Harvard University, Columbia University, Yale University, New School for Social Research, University College London (UCL), Oxford University, the Chinese Academy of Social Science and many others.
Professor Ferrara’s work revolves around the formulation of an authenticity- and judgment-based account of normative validity, which by way of incorporating a post-metaphysically reconstructed version of the normativity of Kant’s ’’reflective judgment’’, could be immune to anti-foundationalist objections and yet represent a viable alternative to the formalism of standard proceduralist accounts of normative validity. He is the author of Modernity and Authenticity. A Study of the Social and Ethical Thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1993 (transl. into Italian); Reflective Authenticity. Rethinking the Project of Modernity, 1998 (transl. into Italian and Spanish); Justice and Judgment. The Rise and the Prospect of the Judgment Model in Contemporary Political Philosophy, 1999 (transl. into Italian); The Force of the Example. Explorations in the Paradigm of Judgment, 2008 (transl. into Italian and Spanish) and The Democratic Horizon. Hyperpluralism and the Renewal of Political Liberalism, 2014 (transl. into Spanish).