PhD defense Florian Bekkers: How can we resolve identity-related conflicts?

Twee grote zilverreigers in een territoriale strijd. Foto: Chris Sabor, via Unsplash

On 21 April, Florian Bekkers will defend his PhD thesis ‘The Transformative Dialogue: On Resolving Identity-Related Moral Conflicts’. Bekkers describes his philosophical theory on the solution to intractable conflicts: mutual recognition.

Intractable conflicts

Some conflicts between people are intractable – they are difficult or impossible to resolve and carry the risk of serious escalation. Some intractable conflicts stem from a clash between identities. Bekkers calls these ‘identity-related moral conflicts’, or IRMC. And identities are immovable and not subject to negotiation, particularly during conflicts.

So how can we resolve these kinds of conflicts, then? Several influential philosophical theories appear unable to provide a stable and just solution, Bekkers argues. His answer: combine the strengths of Jürgen Habermas’s discourse ethics and Charles Taylor’s articulation ethics in the theory of transformative dialogue. Together, they can compensate for each other's weaknesses.

Mutual recognition

According to Bekkers, the transformative dialogue is the way out of this kind of intractable conflict. At the heart of his theory is mutual recognition. The understanding of oneself and of the other must transform, so that those involved better understand each other and the conflict. The intractable conflict is then stably and justly resolved, Bekkers claims.

In order for conflicts to actually be resolved in practice, transformative dialogue must become part of institutions, Bekkers believes. Only when transformative understanding becomes as normal as negotiating or exchanging arguments, a solution can be reached.

Start date and time
End date and time
Hybrid: online (click here) and at the Utrecht University Hall
PhD candidate
Florian Bekkers
De transformatieve dialoog: Over het oplossen van identiteitsgerelateerde morele conflicten
PhD supervisor(s)
Professor R.J.G. Claassen
Professor J.H. Anderson