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Watch: 'Democracy, Truth and Trust in Europe'

02 August 2019

If you missed our Academy Discourse by Professor Michele Nicoletti, you can watch it now.

About the discourse

In his presentation, Professor Nicoletti discussed how fear, intolerance, resentment, hatred, mistrust in the ruling classes are seriously affecting European countries. Representative democracies are showing an increasing weakness and lack of efficacy in governing the great contemporary challenges, such as climate changes, migrations or the protection of social rights. The overlapping of different democracy levels (local, national, international) does not help. These difficulties are not new, but it is clear that the meaning and practices of democracy in Europe require a new theoretical and practical effort to regain the trust of citizens. This effort should start with an in-depth analysis of the present situation. In this context, the fear of self-dispossession can be identified as a feature common to contemporary societies. This fear can either draw regressive responses, such as instable self-identification with charismatic leaders or populist movements, or can foster emancipation. The latter is possible through a vigorous re-proposal of the principle of ‘self-belonging’, understood as, on the one hand, the aspiration that one’s dignity is respected, and, on the other, that the irreducibility and inviolability of the Self be recognized. This principle can serve as the foundation for not only an existential perspective of the liberty and relationality of the individual, but also a vision of society based upon respect for basic universal rights and discursive and participatory procedures which extend from the local to the global level. This vision entails an idea of democracy which aims to be truth-sensitive, non-paternalistic, transparent and responsive, and can serve as a new conceptual basis for rethinking Europe as a community of peoples and States based on the recognition of diversity and mutual respect.

Watch the discourse here

About the speaker

Michele Nicoletti is Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Trento. He has authored books on Kierkegaard’s philosophy of subjectivity (1983), Carl Schmitt’s political theology (1990), Politics and the Evil (2000) and edited critical editions and translations of XIX and XX century philosophers like Rosmini, Stein, Guardini, Boeckenfoerde. His research interests focus on the intertwining between ethics, anthropology and political theory. Visiting fellow at several international universities (i.a. Freiburg i.B.. KU Leuven, Notre Dame, IN, USA), he has been the scientific coordinator of national and international research projects and is the chief editor of the scientific journal Politica e Religione. Annuario di Teologia politica. 2013-2018 he has been a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where he has led the Socialist, Democratic and Green Group. From January to June 2018 he has served as President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. During his mandate, he has launched the Council of Europe Academic Network initiative, which he is now developing: a project for the coordination of major universities and academic institutions in the field of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Interview with Professor Michele Nicoletti

Michele Nicoletti sat down with Gerard Kelly of Mason, Hayes and Curran before the discourse and discussed his presentation, watch it here.


The Discourse Series

This Academy Discourse by Professor Michele Nicoletti, Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Trento, Italy and Former President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of part of a discourse series sponsored by Mason Hayes & Curran

The Academy’s discourses are the oldest and most renowned series of talks in Ireland. The first discourses were presented in 1786. Historically, Academy discourses were the occasion reserved for the most distinguished academics to first reveal and discuss their work in public. Robert Mallet revealed his pioneering work on earthquakes and William Rowan Hamilton talked about quaternion algebra at Academy Discourses. Recent speakers have included Nobel Laureates, Venki Ramakrishnan, Amaryta Sen, William Campbell and Sir Paul Nurse.  Other distinguished speakers were Mary McAleese, Catherine Day and Sir Stephen O’Rahilly.

The purpose of the Academy discourse series is to bring thought leaders to the Academy to discuss important contemporary issues.   

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