Prof. David M. Berry

Professor of Digital Humanities, University of Sussex, UK

1 to 15 September 2019

In cooperation with Prof. Dr. Klaus Günther

Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”, Goethe University Frankfurt in cooperation with Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften

Professor David M. Berry researches the theoretical and medium-specific challenges of understanding digital and computational media, particularly algorithms, software and code. His work draws on digital humanities, critical theory, political economy, social theory, software studies, and the philosophy of technology. As Professor of Digital Humanities, he is interested in how computation is being incorporated into arts and humanities and social science practice. In relation to this he is currently exploring how artificial intelligence and machine-learning are articulated in relation to arts and humanities knowledges – particularly notions of augmentating, automating and informating. More particularly, he is interested in how knowledge, organisation and computation are formed into new constellations of power. This work examines how these systems are legitimated and the orders of justification around them together with the potential of concepts such as explainability for providing immanent critique and the space for practices of critical reason.

Research project title:
Critical Theory, Artificial Intelligence and Explainability

In this research I plan to explore the implications of explainability for the critical theory, and particularly the concept of explainability it gives rise to. This is increasingly relevant to the growing public visibility of artificial intelligence and machine-learning projects and the potential for the application of machine learning drawn from these approaches. This is an extremely difficult requirement for computational systems to achieve. By situating the questions over explainability in terms of theories and concepts drawn from critical theory, such as notions of instrumental rationality, the dialectic of enlightenment, standardisation and related problems of the political economy and commodity fetishism will create an extremely deep set of philosophical and theoretical questions. For example, the question of interpretation is hugely simplified in the proposals over explainability, the question of an interpreting subject, its capacities and its relation to assumed notions of truth are also suggestive. This research explores how power and life chances are redistributed where cognitive capacities themselves are subject to the market and therefore unequally available to the public. I therefore propose to explore explainability as a normative justification and as a technical project in light of these questions, and extend the debate over explainability into questions of interpretation through a notion of “understandability”. That is, to understand how justifications from the domains of a formal, technical and causal models of explanation have replaced that of understanding and thereby give rise to tensions and social conflict. The aim is to situate the current debates over explainability within a historical constellation of concepts but also to provide an immanent critique of the claims and justifications of “smart” technologies that build on artificial and machine-learning techniques, particularly in light of their impacts on cognitive proletarianisation, political economy and what we might call the structural transformation of the informational and cognitive capacity of societies under conditions of digital technicity.

Publications (selection):

Berry, David M and Fagerjord, Anders (2017) Digital humanities: knowledge and critique in a digital age. Polity Press, Cambridge. ISBN 9780745697659

Berry, David M (2014) Critical theory and the digital. Critical theory and contemporary society. Bloomsbury, New York. ISBN 9781441166395

Berry, David M (2011) The philosophy of software: code and mediation in the digital age. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. ISBN 9780230244184

Berry, David M (2008) Copy, rip, burn: the politics of copyleft and open source. Pluto Press, London. ISBN 9780745324159


Further information will follow

Dr. Justas Namavičius

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter an der Universität Vilnius (Institut für Strafrecht)

9. Juli 2019 bis 18. Juli 2019

In Zusammenarbeit mit Prof. Dr. Klaus Günther

Exzellenzcluster "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen" an der Goethe-Universität

Dr. Justas Namavičius
studierte 1997–2004 Rechtswissenschaft an der Universität Bonn (erstes Staatsexamen); später war er als wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter im Strafrechtlichen Institut der Universität Bonn tätig und absolvierte Referendardienst am Oberlandesgericht Köln (zweites Staatsexamen 2012). 2011 wurde er an der Universität Bonn promoviert (Territorialgrundsatz und Distanzdelikt, Baden-Baden, 2012). Herr Namavičius unterrichtet und forscht an der Universität Vilnius (Institut für Strafrecht) sowie am Institut für Rechtswesen (Vilnius). Ferner berät er unterschiedliche staatliche Institutionen. In seinen Publikationen und Vorträgen analysiert er die Fragen des allgemeinen Teils des Strafrechts mit den Bezügen zum Recht der Europäischen Union; ferner interessiert er sich für die Geschichte des sowjetischen Strafrechts.

Das Gesetzlichkeitsprinzip im Europäischen und im internationalen Strafrecht

Derzeit interessiere ich mich für das Prinzip der Gesetzlichkeit, vor allem mit Bezügen zum Europäischen und dem internationalen Strafrecht. Die Europäisierung steht vor allem im Zeichen der Effektivität, das internationale Strafrecht bemüht sich hingegen um materielle Gerechtigkeit, aber auch dies nicht unbedingt (nur) retrospektiv ausgerichtet, sondern auch mit der Funktion der Selbstbestätigung im Sinne einer bestimmten Deutung von historischen Ereignissen, wie man dies teilweise auch in der aktuellen Entwicklung der litauischen Rechtsprechung im Hinblick auf die Auslegung der internationalen Kriegsverbrechen beobachten kann. Die genannten Entwicklungstendenzen stehen in einem Spannungsverhältnis zu dem formalen Gesetzlichkeitsprinzip, welches mit Blick auf seine Funktionen näher auszuleuchten ist.

Publikationen (Auswahl):

Souveränität und Integration: Verfassungsrechtliche Fragen der Mitgliedschaft Litauens in Europäischer Union [Sovereignty and Integration: Constitutional Issues with regard to the Membership of Lithuania in the European Community], co-author: Zenonas Namavičius, in: Osteuropa-Recht 2006, p. 152.

Die Reform der litauischen Verwaltungsjustiz [The Reform of the Lithuanian Administrative Justice], in: Osteuroparecht 2007, p. 21.

Hafenlichter“ [„The harbour lights”], a hypothetical criminal law case for the training purposes of students, in: Juristische Ausbildung 2007, p. 190.

Territorialgrundsatz und Distanzdelikt [The Principle of Territoriality and the Distance Offence], Baden-Baden 2012, monography [PhD Thesis].

Neuere Entwicklungen des litauischen Strafrechts [Recent Developments of the Lithuanian Criminal Law], in: Osteuroparecht 2013, p. 90.

Atsižvelgimas į užsienio valstybės teismo apkaltinamąjį nuosprendį nagrinėjant naują baudžiamąją bylą Lietuvoje [Taking into Account the Criminal Judgement of the Court of a Foreign Country in the New Criminal Proceedings in Lithuania], Teisės problemos, 2018/1 (95), p. 5.

Baudžiamieji įstatymai, galioję okupuotoje Lietuvoje 1940-1990 metais [Criminal Laws, which were in Force in the Occupied Lithuania from 1940 till 1990];  in: Lietuvos teisė 1918-2018 m.: šimtmečio patirtis, red. Sinkevičius, V.; Jakulevičienė, L, Vilnius, 2018.

Baudžiamosios teisės mokslas sovietinės okupacijos laikotarpiu [Doctrine of Criminal Law in the Period of the Soviet Occupation], in: Lietuvos teisė 1918-2018 m.: šimtmečio patirtis, red. Sinkevičius, V.; Jakulevičienė, L, Vilnius, 2018.


Michael J. Christensen, PhD

Assistant Professor in the Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada)

July 10, 2019 – July 31, 2019

In cooperation with Prof. Dr. Jens Steffek

Funded by Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”, Goethe University Frankfurt in cooperation with Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften

Michael Christensen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University. He was previously a postdoctoral fellow at York University’s Global Digital Citizenship Lab and he held a research fellowship with the Democratic Resource Center at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC. His academic interests are in the fields of democracy and human rights, international aid organizations, science and expert knowledge and digital media. His current research focuses on emerging forms of expertise and democratic debate mediated through digital technologies, with a special emphasis on the social, political and legal implications of disinformation.

Research project title:
Practices of Promoting Democratic Media: Paradoxes of Legitimacy and Institution Building in the Disinformation Era

Is online disinformation an existential threat to global democracy? Is it a symptom of corporate media concentration, or is it just a new iteration of an ever-present feature of political communication? Whatever the answer, scholarly debates about ‘fake news’, disinformation and media manipulation have reached a fever pitch. Recent scholarship has focused on coordinated disinformation campaigns targeting the United States and the United Kingdom, partly in reaction to the 2016 Brexit referendum and the US Presidential election, but this research project argues that fake news is a smaller part of a much larger story. Since the Cold War era, Western democracies have waged global information campaigns extolling the virtues of free elections, free markets and free media. Governments in Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom eventually institutionalized these campaigns in the form of organizations promoting and assisting the development of democratic institutions around the world. Now these democracy promotion organizations are facing a crisis as networks of authoritarian governments, far-right political parties, internet trolls and social media personalities have leveraged popular social media platforms to undermine the legitimacy of democratic institutions. This research project looks at how formal democracy promotion organizations work to counter anti-democratic narratives by mobilizing international aid in the service of developing “independent media.” While attempting to bolster liberal narratives of free expression, this top-down approach to countering grassroots social media campaigns reveals the limitations of focusing on liberal norms grounded in the rule-of-law and institutional legitimacy in an media environment dominated by questions of personal credibility. Of course, democracy promotion organizations have, for decades, sidestepped questions about their own credibility by developing a form of expert knowledge about building legitimate institutions.
The research question guiding this project therefore asks: how do professionals in Western democracy organizations counter disinformation in practical terms? I view the project through a practice theory lens that assumes everyday organizational practices can provide unique explanations for complex social phenomena. This perspective builds on growing interest in practice theory in the fields of International Relations and Political Sociology, and I believe that these insights can greatly benefit current debates about disinformation and post-truth politics, which have primarily been taken up by communications scholars. While the specter of state-sponsored disinformation campaigns is a growing concern, there remains a dearth of literature exploring the relationship between disinformation, public discourse and democracy promotion. Developing a better understanding of disinformation is worthwhile in itself, but exploring this relationship also fills an important gap in our knowledge about the ways underlying norms of democratic discourse are being reimagined in the social media age.

Publications (selection):

Christensen (2017) “Interpreting the Organizational Practices of North American Democracy Assistance” International Political Sociology, 11(2): 148-165.

Christensen (2017) “A Critical Sociology of International Expertise: The Case of International Democracy Assistance,” in Kurasawa (ed.) Interrogating the Social – A Critical Sociology for the 21st Century. Palgrave Macmillan

Christensen (2015) “Re-establishing ‘the social’ in research on democratic processes: Mid-century voter studies and Paul F. Lazarsfeld’s alternative vision,” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 51(3): 308-332

Christensen (2013) “The Social Facts of Democracy: Science meets politics with Mosca, Pareto, Michels & Schumpeter,” Journal of Classical Sociology, 13(4): 460-486


Prof. Eduardo Mendieta

Professor of Philosophy and Associate Director of the Rock Ethics Institute at The Pennsylvania State University

July - October 2019

In cooperation with Prof. Dr. Dr. Matthias Lutz-Bachmann and Prof. Dr. Thomas Schmidt

Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”, Goethe University Frankfurt in cooperation with Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften

Prof. Eduardo Mendieta has taught at the University of San Francisco and Stony Brook University of the SUNY System, as well as at universities in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. He works primarily on twentieth century Latin American philosophy and post-WWII German philosophy (especially the work of Karl-Otto Apel and Jürgen Habermas). He is co-editor with Jonathan VanAntwerpen of The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere (Columbia University Press, 2011), with Craig Calhoun and Jonathan VanAntwerpen of Habermas and Religion (Polity, 2013), with Amy Allen, From Alienation to Forms of Life: The Critical Theory of Rahel Jaeggi (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018), and with Amy Allen of the Cambridge Habermas Lexicon (Cambridge University Press, 2019). He recently finished a book entitled The Philosophical Animal, which will be published by SUNY Press in 2019. He is the 2017 recipient of the Frantz Fanon Outstanding Achievements Award. During his residence as a Fellow of the Excellence Cluster Normative Orders  he will give a series of seminars and will coordinate a conference that relates to his research project.

Research project title:
Enlightened Religion: Jürgen Habermas’s Philosophy of Religion

With this project Eduardo Mendieta aims to track the development of Habermas’s thinking about religion, beginning in the sixties, when he wrote some important essays on the role of Jewish thinkers in the transmission of German Idealism, to his forthcoming two volume book Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie (Suhrkamp, 2019), which traces the debate between faith and knowledge from ancient times through the nineteenth century.

Publications (selection):

- With Jonathan VanAntwerpen: The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere (Columbia University Press, 2011)
- With Craig Calhoun and Jonathan VanAntwerpen: Habermas and Religion (Polity, 2013)
- With Amy Allen: From Alienation to Forms of Life: The Critical Theory of Rahel Jaeggi (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018)
- With Amy Allen: The Cambridge Habermas Lexicon (Cambridge University Press, 2019)
- The Philosophical Animal (Forthcoming 2019)


Further information will follow

Prof. Dmitri Nikulin

Professor of Philosophy, The New School for Social Research, New York

August 2019 until October 2019

In cooperation with Prof. Dr. Rainer Forst

Funded by Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”, Goethe University Frankfurt and Kassel-Stiftung in cooperation with Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften

Dmitri Nikulin
is Professor of Philosophy who teaches at the New School for Social Research in New York. His interests range from ancient philosophy and early modern science to the philosophy of memory and philosophy of history.




Research project title:
Responsibility and Hope

After the publication of Hans Jonas' Das Prinzip Verantwortung forty years ago, the principle of responsibility has become a key concept in moral and political debates. Yet the unconditional responsibility for the possibility of the existence of future generations – not only of humans, but also of other living beings – is invariably accompanied by the "heuristics of fear," which presupposes imagining the worst-case scenario and a pronouncedly bleak future. The dystopian principle of responsibility was introduced as a response to Bloch's Das Prinzip Hoffnung, which envisions the possibility of a utopian future for humanity. The proposed project will discuss these two principles and will argue that they are not mutually exclusive, so that, while still preserving the imperative of responsibility, one can maintain a utopian ideal as a regulative idea for moral and political action.

List of Recent Publications

Dialectic and Dialogue (2010)
Comedy, Seriously (2014)
The Concept of History (2017)
Critique of Bored Reason (forthcoming with Columbia University Press)

Edited and co-edited collections:
Memory: A History (2015)
Philosophy and Power in Antiquity (2016)
Productive Imagination: Its History, Meaning and Significance (2018)



Denken im Widerspruch

Prof. Dr. Rainer Forst, Co-Sprecher des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen" zum Gedenken an Theodor W. Adorno aus Anlass seines 50. Todestags. Mehr...

„Noch einmal: Zum Verhältnis von Moralität und Sittlichkeit" - Vortrag von Jürgen Habermas am 19. Juni 2019. Skript und Aufzeichnung verfügbar

Die Meldung zum Vortrag finden Sie: Hier...
Weitere Informationen (Videoaufzeichnung, Skript und Medienecho) finden Sie: Hier...

"The History of Postmetaphysical Philosophy and the Future of Democracy" - Konferenz zu Ehren von Jürgen Habermas

Am 20. und 21. Juni fand am Exzellenzcluster "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen" die Konferenz "The History of Postmetaphysical Philosophy and the Future of Democracy" statt.
Die Meldung zur Konferenz finden Sie hier...
Das Programm und weitere Informationen finden Sie hier...

Nächste Termine

9. September 2019, 11 Uhr

Workshop: Lehrbücher der Zukunft Mehr...

11. und 12. September 2019

Conference: Contextual Thinking in Economics. More...


Neueste Medien

„Die gesellschaftlichen Voraussetzungen des Faschismus dauern fort“ Zur Aktualität Adornos


Wie frei sind wir im digitalen Echoraum?

Prof. Dr. Klaus Günther
Goethe Lectures Offenbach

Neueste Volltexte

Burchard, Christoph (2019):

Künstliche Intelligenz als Ende des Strafrechts? Zur algorithmischen Transformation der Gesellschaft. Normative Orders Working Paper 02/2019. Mehr...

Kettemann, Matthias (2019):

Die normative Ordnung der Cyber-Sicherheit: zum Potenzial von Cyber-Sicherheitsnormen. Normative Orders Working Paper 01/2019. Mehr...