Kant and Democracy

September 19, 2024 - September 20, 2024
Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo

Karl Johans gate 47
Oslo 0162


Goethe University Frankfurt
Brown University
University of Oslo
University of Oslo
University of Edinburgh
University of Surrey
University of Pittsburgh
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Cambridge University
University of Oslo


University of Oslo

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Kant’s legal and political philosophy has recently attracted much interest, but many questions remain about its significance for democracy. This conference explores the nature and justification for Kantian democracy. It is the third annual conference of the project KanDem - The Kantian Foundations of Democracy.  

Would you like to attend? Please register on the conference website by 5 https://www.hf.uio.no/ifikk/english/research/projects/the-kantian-foundations-of-democracy/events/kandem-conference-2024.html

Topic and questions: Even though Kant did not use the word democracy to describe his ideal of a rightful association, he was committed to the view that “the legislative authority can belong only to the united will of the people” (6:313), that citizens must have the right to vote, and that every constitution must be republican. Yet essential components of Kant’s commitment to popular sovereignty are not well understood.  

This conference opens for contributions on numerous topics. Some questions concern the significance of consent for freedom: What difference does the democratic process make to the justice of law? How should we think of concepts like legitimacy, authority, and obligation in light of a Kantian theory of democracy? Other questions have to do with equality and inclusiveness: Who should be included as a citizen with the right to vote and on what grounds? How are the national boundaries of the demos justified? Further questions concern the institutional components of Kant’s account, including the nature and purpose of voting, representation, the separation of powers, and the connection of the democratic process to the public sphere. Questions of rights and duties in transitions to democracy (or from democracy) are also highly relevant. The conference investigates these questions and more, and attention will be paid to situating Kant’s view in the context of eighteenth century philosophy.  

In 2024 some of the world’s largest democracies go to elections in the midst of numerous challenges: Populism, voter apathy, disinformation, distrust, economic inequality, unregulated use of money in politics, executive and judiciary overreach, insurrections, nationalism, and war. The time is right to think carefully about the nature and justification of democracy in Kant’s philosophy. 

Organizer: The research project KanDem – Kantian Foundations of Democracy, funded by The Research Council of Norway and devoted to analyzing the democratic theory of the Kantian School in Germany in the 1790s. Additional support from The Norwegian Kant Society. Contact: [email protected]  

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August 19, 2024, 9:00am CET

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