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Traditions, Authenticity and Policy

English title Traditions, Authenticity and Policy
Applicant Beckstein Martin
Number 161046
Funding scheme Advanced Postdoc.Mobility
Research institution Department of Politics Princeton University
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.11.2015 - 31.08.2017
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Philosophy
Political science

Keywords (5)

Anti-traditions; Policy; Traditions; Institutions; Conservative political theory

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Traditionen, Authentizität und Politikgestaltung
Lay summary
Aufklärungsrationalisten betrachteten Traditionen als Hindernisse für die Gewinnung von wahrem Wissen und die Entwicklung einer guten Gesellschaftsordnung. Für heutige progressive Denkerinnen und Denker gilt Ähnliches: die Politik solle sich der Autorität der Vernunft unterwerfen und nicht der Macht der Gewohnheit; da uns Traditionen an die Vergangenheit ketteten, müssten wir uns von ihnen emanzipieren. Der weitverbreiteten Skepsis gegenüber Traditionen zum Trotz ist allerdings fragwürdig, ob sich Traditionen und Rationalität tatsächlich nicht miteinander vertragen. Womöglich sollte der Umstand, dass Traditionen eine wichtige Rolle für viele Menschen spielen, nicht leichtfertig als Überbleibsel einer vormodernen Vergangenheit abgetan werden und womöglich stellen Traditionen gar einen integralen Bestandteil von guter Politik dar. Karl Popper meinte, solchen Fragen müsse genauer nachgegangen werden. Aufgabe sei es, den Funktionen sowie dem Eigenwert von Traditionen kritisch nachzugehen und eine rationale Theorie der Tradition zu entwickeln.

Das Forschungsprojekt beabsichtigt, das von Popper lancierte Projekt der Entwicklung einer rationalen Theorie der Tradition einen Schritt weiter voranzubringen. Schwerpunktmässig wird insbesondere der Frage nachgegangen, wie "lebendige" Traditionen die institutionelle Ausgestaltung der Gesellschaft produktiv unterstützen können.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 29.10.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
AfD: Gescheiterter Konservatismus
Beckstein M. (2016), AfD: Gescheiterter Konservatismus.
Kommunitarische Gerechtigkeit
Beckstein M. (2016), Kommunitarische Gerechtigkeit, in Goppel Anna, Mieth Corinna, Neuhäuser Christian (ed.), 230-235.
Conservatism: Analytically Reconsidered
Beckstein M., Cheneval Francis, Conservatism: Analytically Reconsidered, in The Monist, 99(4), 1-12.
The concept of a living tradition
Beckstein M., The concept of a living tradition, in European Journal of Social Theory.

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Konservatismus und Zuwanderung NZZ German-speaking Switzerland 2017
Media relations: print media, online media AfD: Gescheiterter Konservatismus theorieblog.de International German-speaking Switzerland 2016

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
174465 Towards the Normative Reconstruction of the Welfare State 01.10.2017 Return CH Advanced Postdoc.Mobility

Abstract

Enlightenment rationalists considered traditions to be obstacles to the development of true knowledge and a good social order, and contemporary progressive thinkers are often equally disinclined to see in traditions as anything other than shackles of the past - "reactionary utopica" (Bloch) - that prevent people from moving on: policy-making should bow to the authority of reason, not the force of habit; if justice is to obtain, we need to free ourselves from the grip of traditions rather than cultivating them. However, perhaps tradition cannot so easily be placed in dichotomy with rationality. Perhaps traditions are too easily ignored as weights on the balance of public reason when issues of policy are discussed. And perhaps traditions are an integral component of - rather than an obstacle to - good governance. Popper believed that such concerns deserved greater consideration and, after having read Oakeshott’s "Rationalism in Politics", believed that systematic reconsideration was urgently needed. While traditions cannot replace normative reasoning, he hypothesized, it would be reckless to discard them out of hand as irrational remnants of primitive societies. The task, Popper affirmed, is to develop a rational theory of tradition: a theory that manages to rescue traditions from the traditionalists and, to some extent, too, rationality from the rationalists. The fact that traditions appear to play a substantial role in the self-understanding of many individuals, as well as the ubiquity of disputes over authenticity and the true inheritance of a tradition, suggests that the task has lost none of its topicality since the 1970s. The research project therefore aims to carry on the project launched by Popper and thus take another step toward the development of a rational theory of tradition, focussing in particular on the role that traditions do and should play in policy-making and institution-building processes.
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