Post Doc Projekte

Political progress in context

Dr. Ilaria Cozzaglio

Laufzeit des Forschungsprojekts: 07/2018 – 06/2021

The notion of progress is seminal when envisaging the future of our democracies. After all, when we think of what we wish for, and then look at what we actually have, we tend to envisage a way to reach the desired state of affairs. This ultimately means thinking of how we make progress.
The theoretical structure implied in the notion of progress, so far, has been the following: there is a state of affairs, an ideal, and a possible movement (progress) towards the ideal. Accordingly, the ideal is morally characterised as e.g. justice, equality, etc. However, in a political context more and more characterised by disagreement about values, and increasing scepticism about the existence of an objective moral truth, it seems difficult to reach an agreement on which ideal we should aim at. Therefore, either we renounce the idea of progress (Allen, 2016) or we are forced to conceive of it in a non-teleological way. Some proposals in the direction of conceiving of a non-teleological account of progress have been suggested (Forst, 2017). However, scholars suggesting this approach usually resist to conceive of progress as a contextualised notion, being worried that, by doing so, the notion might be emptied of its normative capacity. Although the concern is understandable, there is a shortcoming. Theorists in political realism may object that without a reference to the context, a universally valid notion of progress may be too detached from the vision of the world held by individuals subject to political power. In contrast, to ground a notion of progress on bottom-up standards, namely dependent on the values individuals hold in a specific context, has the advantage of letting people have a say when defining how their society should make progress. This represents a third option, i.e. a teleological notion of progress that includes bottom-up and context-dependent standards rather than universal ones.
To develop this third option, a realist notion of progress will be elaborated. Progress will be defined as a condition in which the political order increasingly reflects individuals’ justified beliefs and standards. While Singer (2011) defined progress as ‘expanding the circle of moral concern’, I will claim that we have political progress when there is an expansion of the circle of political concern, i.e. an expansion of the perspectives that participate, through the public debate, to defining the standards required to the regime.
The notion of progress will present three characteristics. First, it is understood as a political instead of a moral notion, which entails the specification of a new scope of application of the notion.  Political realism claims the autonomy of the political from the moral sphere and prioritises the demand for security and stability over the need for justice (Williams, 2005). Therefore, progress relates to securing more effectively cooperation and compliance (Ypi, 2013). Yet if this is the case, an agreement about which are the aims individuals cooperate for is critical to the notion of progress itself. Those aims are the result of bottom-up standards that individuals elaborate when envisaging which kind of political order they wish to live in.
Second, it will distinguish between a concept and a conception. A concept of progress describes the functioning mechanism of the notion: what progress is and what its content depends on; a conception of progress is a contextualised concept of progress that highlights the specific values individuals agreed on as seminal for their political community.
Third, it will entail the expansion of the circle of political concern, i.e. an expansion of the perspectives that participate to defining the standards required to the regime. Different perspectives, even if ultimately not included in the final standards elaborated by the majority of people living in a given regime, need to be at least listened to in a robust sense, i.e. individuals must have their own belief challenged by different beliefs, and provide the reasons of an eventual refusal to accept them. I will show how this claim can be justified in terms of political realism.
Following from this realist concept of progress, I will examine the related normative constraints. First, individuals’ beliefs need to pass the coherence test, which guarantees that the belief expressed is understandable by others (even if not shared). Second, to check the coherence of their own beliefs, individuals need to have them challenged by different beliefs, that is, they have to participate to the public debate in which different voices have a say. This constraint entails the duty to listen to minorities as part of the public debate space. Third, given that the overall progress partly depends on progress in coherence, there is a duty to check and revise beliefs, to acquire new information, and to promote cultural innovation (borrowing the term from Buchanan&Powell (2016)).

Democratic Hope

Dr. Jakob Huber

Laufzeit des Forschungsprojekts: 07/2018 – 06/2021

In times of a prevailing sense of crisis and disorder in modern politics, there is a growing sentiment that anger and despair or at least resignation and apathy are more appropriate attitudes to navigate the world than hope. Political theorists have long shared this suspicion and shied away from theorising hope systematically: they see it as expressing a doe-eyed approach to the world that condones complacency or at least detracts from what is to be done ‘here and now’.

The aim of my project is to resist this tendency by vindicating hope as a vital component of democratic life. In making this argument, I will draw on Immanuel Kant’s account of hope. For Kant, hope is a foundational kind of state that plays an important role in our practical engagement with the world in general. In particular, hope allows us to retain our resolve to act when the odds of making a difference are dim. Hence, it is not something we take refuge with once there is nothing else left to do but it is intricately intertwined with contexts of action.

I will set out to show that hope, conceived along these lines, is particularly indispensable for democratic agents. For they often find themselves torn precisely between the democratic promise that they can make a difference on the one hand, and the seeming futility of their efforts amidst institutions and processes that are often experienced as slow and unresponsive, on the other. Active engagement in democratic practices thus requires agents to find ways of fending off despair, frustration and demoralisation in the face of their own ostensible inefficacy. This motivates my attempt to develop a systematic account of democratic hope that is sensitive to its unavoidability as much as its dangers.
My inquiry will proceed in two stages. At the first, preliminary stage, I intend to investigate the nature, objects and ends of hope more generally. Under which epistemic and practical conditions are we rationally permitted (or even required) to hope, and at which point does our fixation on the hoped-for outcome slide into wishful thinking? What may we hope for, or can “radical hope” even be objectless? Is the significance of hope merely instrumental and, if so, why should we prefer it to darker ‘futural’ orientations such as pessimism or fear (that may be just as efficacious in motivating action)? And how precisely does it relate to other ‘aspirational’ attitudes such as optimism, confidence, or expectation?

At the second, main stage of my project, I will turn to the role of hope specifically in democratic life. Here, I will zoom in on three questions. First, in order to see why democratic agents must hope, I shall identify the structural features of democratic practices and institutions that make citizens particularly vulnerable to despair and resignation in the pursuit of their goals (such that hope is required), but also reflect on those that make them particular prone to hubris and wishful thinking. Second, I will ask under which conditions democratic agents can hope. For instance, can we hope under circumstance of severe injustice or if we deeply mistrust our fellow citizens? Third, I will investigate the effects of hope on social and political relations. Are hoping agents (as often suggested by political theorists) really bound to be ineffectual in bringing about positive change (when they are paralyzed in anticipation of a desired future while the present falls apart) or even dangerous (when they become too fixated on hoped-for outcomes), or can hope contribute to healthy political relations? What are the conditions for the emergence of “collective hopes” around which a political community as a whole can organise their joint political efforts? And are hopeful agents able to shift the limits of practical possibility by retaining their resolve to pursue distant and ambitious ends?

As already mentioned, my take on these questions will be informed by Kant’s account of hope. There is little doubt that hope plays a prominent if not central role in Kant’s wider philosophical thinking; famously, What may I hope? is designated as one of the three questions central to human reason. Surprisingly, however, there is little agreement in the literature just why we must hope according to Kant, or what precisely it is that we are doing when we entertain hopes. Alongside the substantive normative focus of my project, I will thus also have to engage in some interpretive work aimed at distilling the ideas upon which I build my own framework.

The aim of my project is to bring into conversation ongoing debates about hope in analytic philosophy with an emerging literature on the role of hope in politics as well as recent Kant-inspired arguments for practical (i.e., non-evidential) reasons for belief. The monograph it is intended to lead to will appeal not only to political theorists (particular those with interests in democratic theory and processes of social change and transformation) but a wide array of philosophers working at the intersection of epistemology, ethics, and moral psychology.

Der Streit um den Rechtsstaat und seine Krise zwischen Liberalismus und Korporatismus (1930-2001)

Dr. Agustín E. Casagrande

Laufzeit des Forschungsprojekts: 01/2018 – 12/2018

Die Staats- und Wirtschaftskrise Argentiniens von 2001 war Anlass für intensive und grundlegende Debatten über die Gestaltung der künftigen politischen und sozialen Ordnung. Wie sollte eine gerechte, Menschenrechte garantierende und Diversität akzeptierende und integrierende Gesellschaft beschaffen sein? In Reaktion auf die Krise und den für sie verantwortlich gemachten Neoliberalismus entwickelte sich in den letzten fünfzehn Jahren eine Politik der staatlichen Hegemonie, die sich vor allem durch zwei Charakterzüge auszeichnet: Erstens wurden staatliche Interventionen verstärkt. Zweitens wurde gesellschaftliche Diversität stark gefördert, insbesondere durch die rechtliche Anerkennung bestimmter ethnischer Gruppen und sozialer Bewegungen. Der sich hiergegen regende Widerstand setzte dem populistischen „Machtstaat“ den bürgerlich-liberalen „Rechtsstaat“ entgegen. Dieser Rechtsstaatsbegriff geriet dann seinerseits unter Ideologieverdacht – er wurde mit marktliberalistischen Rechtfertigungsstrategien synonym gesetzt. Derzeit kann man davon sprechen, dass sich der „Rechtsstaat“, was seine legitimatorische Fundierung betrifft, in der Krise befindet.
Die politisch-moralische Aufladung des Rechtsstaatsbegriffs mit wechselnd positiven oder negativen Konnotationen hat in Argentinien eine weit zurückreichende Tradition und sie hängt in starkem Maße mit den jeweils angenommenen gesellschaftspolitischen Implikationen zusammen. So konnte das Rechtsstaatsverständnis in der argentinischen Diskussion freiheitliche oder eher autoritäre, marktliberale oder sozial-emanzipatorische, gleichheitsbasierte oder auf Differenz setzende Konzeptionen in sich aufnehmen.

In der Geschichte des argentinischen Konstitutionalismus haben sich zwei unterschiedliche und widersprüchliche Verfassungstraditionen herausgebildet: die angelsächsische-liberale Tradition und die nationalistische-staatliche Tradition. Die Grundlage der liberalen Verfassungstradition war die Politische Ökonomie des ausgehenden 18. Jahrhunderts, deren anthropologische Perspektive nur ökonomisch rational handelnde Individuen anerkannte, welche sich auf Augenhöhe begegneten. In diesem Modell der formalen Gleichheit gab es keinen Raum für die Anerkennung von rechtlicher Ungleichheit und Sonderrechtsräumen. Die nationalistisch-staatliche Tradition ihrerseits, die stark korporatistisch geprägt war und deren Hegemonie von 1930 bis 1955 reichte, setzte auf den Staat als Motor der sozialen Entwicklung. Nicht nur die korporative Repräsentation war Teil dieses Konzepts, sondern auch die Anerkennung von unterschiedlichen Akteuren und Gruppen mit besonderen Rechten und Pflichten.

Von diesem Befund ausgehend, wird im Rahmen des beabsichtigen Projekts das Ziel einer historischen Rekonstruktion und Kontextualisierung von Rechtsstaatsverständnissen zwischen 1930 und 2001 verfolgt. Die Leitfragestellungen sind:
Kam es durch die Herausbildung korporatistischer Ordnungsmuster um ca. 1930 zu einer Ablösung des traditionellen liberalen gleichheitsbasierten Rechtsstaatsverständnis durch ein Ungleichheit anerkennendes und sogar förderndes Rechtsstaatsverständnis?
In welcher Weise wurde das traditionelle Rechtsstaatsverständnis später wieder rehabilitiert oder modifiziert und mit anderen Inhalten angereichert?

Methodisch bedeutet dies im Einzelnen, a) den Prozess der Übersetzung des deutschen Rechtsstaatsbegriffs in einem anderen semiotischen Raum zu analysieren; b) die Transformation/Assimilation des Konzepts in der Sprache des argentinischen öffentlichen Rechts zu beschreiben; und c) die verschiedenen Verwendungen des Rechtsstaatsbegriffs in unterschiedlichen historischen und politischen Kontexten zu untersuchen.
Damit soll eine erhebliche Forschungslücke nicht nur in der argentinischen Rechtsgeschichtswissenschaft, sondern auch in der argentinischen Verfassungsrechtswissenschaft geschlossen werden.


Gobierno de justicia, poder de policía. La construcción oeconómica del orden social en Buenos Aires (1776-1829). Ed. Tirant lo Blanch, Valencia. (Jan. 2019). 257 pp.

Book Chapters:
Agustín E. Casagrande 2018, “Del progreso Estatal al presentismo local. Historia sociológica y sociología jurídica en las aulas de derecho” en Felipe Fucito (Ed.), Sociología Jurídica. Universidad de Buenos Aires, Eudeba, In press.
Agustín E. Casagrande 2018/19 “Estadística en el Río de La Plata a comienzos del siglo XIX. Límites conceptuales para la “fuerza del Estado”, en Agüero Alejandro, Tau Anzóategui, Tradición jurídica y discursividad política en la formación de una cultura estatal. Trayectorias rioplatenses, siglo XIX. Inhide, In press.
Voz del DCH: Confesos. En proceso de revisión y envío de los directores al SSRN Max Planck Institut.

History, pardon and Memory in Latin American Constitutionalism.

International Law and Legitimacy: Towards a Dynamic Approach

Dr. Alexis Galán

Laufzeit des Forschungsprojekts: 01/2018 – 12/2019

Legitimacy has become a central concern to international law in the last decades. The spike in attention to legitimacy in international law falls into a time of important institutional and normative transformations taking place within the international legal order. From a consensual normative order, centred on interstate relations, international law has evolved into a complex and dense normative framework encompassing areas that until recently seemed alien to international law. Parts of these transformations involve the shift of authority from the state to the international and transnational realm, the emergence of new forms of law-making into being, and multiple actors actively shaping the novel arrangements, producing normativity and its enforcement. The upshot of these developments is the further intrusion of international law in national political and legal processes and the exertion of pressure on those nations not in compliance with its norms.
In light of the vast impact of international law in the workings of domestic societies, for many the question of legitimacy has become impossible to ignore. Traditionally, the consent of the state was the ultimate legitimacy criterion. That criterion seemed appropriate when treaties, either bilateral or multilateral, were considerably simpler and their execution depended entirely on states. However, the significant expansion of international law’s regulatory reach and the dissolution of the national/international divide have created a new reality. As a consequence, the chain of legitimacy from the national to the international level determined at least in part by the consent of states has become weakened. Some then argue that we are confronted with a widening legitimacy gap, making the legitimation of international law a pressing concern.
The main objective of my research project is to propose an alternative understanding of legitimacy in international law. Instead of focusing on developing a substantive account of the concept, I focus on the contestedness surrounding the concept. For that, I propose instead a dynamic understanding of legitimacy. Under this approach, the analysis is not centred on ascertaining whether or not the various institutions and regimes forming the international legal order are legitimate, but rather on analysing how actors attempt to expand or restrict the permissible boundaries of action of those very same institutions and regimes. Accordingly, the language of legitimacy should be viewed as a struggle between various actors with claims and counter-claims that are part of larger ‘strategic games of action and reaction, of question and response, [and] of domination and evasion’ (Davidson 1997, p.5). This alternative understanding of legitimacy allows us to identify the ways in which legitimacy matters and how it shapes the structure of institutions and regimes. To illustrate this understanding of legitimacy I will analyse the disputes within international investment regime and self-defence.

In-text references:

Davidson, Arnold I. (1997): “Structures and strategies of discourse: remarks towards a history of Foucault's philosophy of language“, in: Arnold I. Davidson (ed.): Foucault and his interlocutors, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

The Environmental Trilemma

Dr. Umberto Mario Sconfienza

Laufzeit des Forschungsprojekts: 01/2018 – 12/2019

Environmental politics is dominated by a narrative which portrays the three policy goals of economic growth, enduring enjoyment of political freedoms - along the lines of liberal democracies -, and environmental protection as simultaneously attainable. Credits for naming and providing the first building blocks of this compelling and long-lasting narrative go to Gro Harlem Brundtland and her colleagues, who authored the report Our Common Future. The purpose of my project is threefold: first, to propose a new theoretical framework to describe current global environmental politics which does away with the notion of sustainable development; second, to heuristically use this framework to analyse and criticise current approaches to environmental politics; and third, to explore alternatives approaches. Concerning the first part, I will introduce what I call the Environmental Trilemma (ET). This is the idea that the three policy goals of (i) economic growth, (ii) enduring enjoyment of political freedoms, and (iii) environmental protection cannot be simultaneously attained. Only two of these three policy goals can be attained at any one time. The second part of the project will analyse the three possible combinations of ET:
(a) business as usual: economic growth + political freedoms (without environmental protection).  It characterizes the short-termism of capitalist democracies and the belief that environmental protection could be achieved through technology.
(b) post-growth approaches: political freedoms + environmental protection (without economic growth). These approaches deny that individual freedoms should be realized through the satisfaction of growing material desires and instead try to explore how needs can be met and human flourishing achieved without economic growth.
(c) environmental authoritarianism: economic growth + environmental protection (without political freedoms). It represents the position that a strong and undemocratic central authority might assume in order to protect the environment while continuing to pursue economic growth, which is considered a proxy for political power in international relations, as well as domestically necessary to alleviate poverty.
Finally, I aim to question whether and under what conditions ET truly stands. ET assumes that at least two policy goals can always be obtained. This is, in itself, a debatable, and debated, claim. In this sense, ET, as a description of current approaches to environmental politics, might be considered an over-optimistic framework. These considerations open up a space to argue that, given the set of policy possibilities offered by ET, more radical conclusions - such as radical degrowth, radical decentralisation or, even, uncivilisation - might follow.

The project is located in research area 3 “the plurality of normative orders: competition, overlapping, connection”. It explores current conflicts over what counts as equitable environmental protection; the three combinations of the trilemma are, in every way, three competing normative orders within which current and future environmental politics is thought and made thinkable.

In carrying out this project, I will depart from the hypothesis that the trilemma provides a framework of alternative possibilities in the domain of environmental politics. Then, through literature review, I will describe those alternative possibilities. I will then proceed in reconstructing the normative presuppositions undergirding the three different approaches. This part of the research will mainly draw on political theory. Finally, I will provide a comparison and an evaluation of these approaches.

The central aim of the project is thus to show that the wider architecture of the choices policy-makers will have to make in the future is more complex and wicked than commonly understood. Citizens have been shocked by the fluidity of politics in the last couple of years and they are now willing to question the standard assumptions upon which policy choices are made, e.g. the tenability of endless economic growth. This creates a context in which the reassessment of environmental politics I propose is particularly germane and could be highly impactful.


„Frankfurter interdisziplinäre Debatte“. Frankfurter Forschungsinstitute laden zum Austausch über disziplinen-übergreifende Plattform ein

Die „Frankfurter interdisziplinäre Debatte“ ist ein Versuch des Dialogs zwischen Vertreter*innen unterschiedlicher wissenschaftlicher Disziplinen zu aktuellen Fragestellungen – derzeit im Kontext der Corona-Krise und u.a. mit Beiträgen von Prof. Dr. Nicole Deitelhoff, Prof. Dr. Rainer Forst und Prof. Dr. Klaus Günther. Seit Ende März 2020 ist die Onlineplattform der Initiative ( verfügbar. Mehr...

Bundesministerin Karliczek gibt Startschuss für das neue Forschungsinstitut Gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt

In einer Pressekonferenz hat Bundesministerin Anja Karliczek am 28. Mai 2020 den Startschuss für das neue Forschungsinstitut Gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt (FGZ) gegeben. Mit dabei waren Sprecherin Prof. Nicole Deitelhoff (Goethe-Uni, Normative Orders), sowie der Geschäftsführende Sprecher Prof. Matthias Middell (Uni Leipzig) und Sprecher Prof. Olaf Groh-Samberg (Uni Bremen). Nun kann auch das Frankfurter Teilinstitut seine Arbeit aufnehmen. Mehr...

Nächste Termine

Bis Ende September 2020

In der Goethe-Universität finden mindestens bis Ende September 2020 keine Präsenzveranstaltungen statt. Präsenzveranstaltungen des Forschungsverbunds "Normative Ordnungen" werden ebenfalls bis auf Weiteres ausgesetzt.

10. September 2020, 12.30 Uhr

Online Book lɔ:ntʃ: Prof. Dr. Dr. Günter Frankenberg: Autoritarismus - Verfassungstheoretische Perspektiven (Suhrkamp 2020). Mehr...


Neueste Medien

Normative Orders Insights

... mit Nicole Deitelhoff

Normative Orders Insights

... mit Rainer Forst

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 (2020):

The Normative Order of the Internet. Normative Orders Working Paper 01/2020. Mehr...