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Paul Scholten Centre Colloquium with Jurriën Hamer (Philosophy, Utrecht). Discussant: Roland Pierik (PSC)

Detail Summary
Date 17 May 2016
Time 12:00 - 13:00
Location Oudemanhuispoort
Room Venue: Oudemanhuispoort, room C1.23

Room Venue: Oudemanhuispoort, room C1.23

Oudemanhuispoort 4-6
1012 CN Amsterdam

Research colloquium, organised by the Paul Scholten Centre. This colloquium is open to all, no registration required.

A copy of the paper can be obtained via


The attached text contains most of my first chapter – I left out some paragraphs to stay within the word limit. In short, it seeks to refute Jeremy Waldron’s understanding of political morality and to argue positively for the merits of a moral transcendental approach to politics. In the remainder of my dissertation this transcendental approach is worked out and applied to questions of the political institutionalization of human rights. 

This chapter attempts to do three things. First, it tries to show why both Waldron’s separation of questions of justice and questions of political legitimacy and his understanding of the normative authority of democracy are misguided. It is argued that Waldron’s approach fails to satisfy the desiderata of a normative account of political institutions, because it misrepresents political practice, gives little guidance to those participating in political institutions and says little about the procedural preconditions of the right kind of democracy. Moreover, it is fundamentally question begging, because it does not pose its ideal of equal respect as an overriding normative truth and it does not explicate it accordingly. 

Second, I hope to show that part of these criticisms apply generally to approaches that rely on tracking consensus. Discussing Rawls’ Political Liberalism, I will argue that it too fails to guide political participants satisfactorily and only features a question-begging foundation of political legitimacy. I conclude that to construct a proper account of political morality we must explore methodologies that promise to deliver on the elaborated desiderata. 

Third, I begin this exploration by introducing a transcendental approach to political philosophy, and explain its attraction as well as its relation to debates about the self-understanding of philosophers and the question of ideal versus non-ideal theory. My main conclusion here is that a transcendental approach promises to remedy the faults of consensus-based approaches: it depicts politics as a struggle to distinguish universal truths from particular conceptions of the good and offers to provide a justification of moral claims that must be accepted by all rational humans. Consequently, it offers a chance to provide a universally obligatory basis for democracy that answers the procedural questions implied by democratic practice.


Jurriëns Hamer is PhD-Candidate in Marcus Duwells VICI-project ‘Human Dignity as the Foundation of Human Rights’ at the Ethics Institute of Utrecht University.