SOPhiA 2018

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Historicism and Ahistoricism: The Limits of Popper's Political Thought
(Political Philosophy & Philosophy of Law, English)

Considering the vast influence of "The Open Society and Its Enemies", Karl Popper is without a doubt one of the most important exponents of liberalism in the twentieth century. I will, nevertheless, argue that Popper's political philosophy is not always quite self-consistent. The aim is not to destroy his conception, but to "repair" it. That is possible because, with some minor exceptions, the inconsistences are caused by Popper not inferring all the logical consequences of his own postulates, and not by contradiction in the postulates themselves. I will look at Popper's political theory from the perspective of its own bases, criticizing its surface conclusions and loose additions to it. Particular attention will be given to a) the incompatibility between Popper's projection of modern liberalism into antiquity and his conception of interaction between people and institutors of their making (between "world 2" and "world 3"); b) his unacceptable confusion of the concept of "liberalism" with those of "egalitarianism" and of "democracy". In both cases, an important inspiration for critique is provided by the ideas of Isaiah Berlin. These ideas, often better than Popper's own conclusions, answer the demands of "critical dualism of facts and norms" which is, according to Popper, the basis and a necessary condition of "the open society". R. M. Hare's "Language of Morals" will be used for the sake of conceptional clarification. The combination of Hare's logic and Berlin's emphasis on the fact that human needs often contradict one another will illustrate the inevitability of pluralism from which (provided the shared aim to minimize violent conflicts) representative democracy and the rule of law can be deduced as not only most advantageous in a long run, but also as the only political system which can potentially answer the demands of Popper's "open society".

Chair: Martina Valkovic
Time: 12:00-12:30, 14 September 2018 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.007

Jan Buran 
(Palacky University Olomouc, the Czech Republic)

Jan Buráň was born in Prague, Czech Republic, in 1991. He studied philosophy and film studies at Palacký University Olomouc, where he now continues to pursue a PhD. His main interest being political philosophy, he wrote his bachelor's thesis on the subject of ideological bases of the Jesuits' "reducciones" in Latin America and his master's thesis on Karl Popper's interpretation of Antisthenes as an opposite of Plato's totalitarianism. Mainly based on Popper's and Isaiah Berlin's ideas, his dissertation project is a critique of Carl Schmitt and his contemporary followers.

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