14 September 2015 from 13:30 to 16:45

What is 'open' about open societies?


The Utrecht University strategic theme Institutions examines the 'institutions of open societies.' But what actually are open societies? To what do they form a contrast? What would be an 'non-open' society? On 14 September, the Ethics Institute and the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) at Utrecht University organise a seminar about these and other questions.

What norms, values, and principles form the basis of open societies? Think for instance about, freedom of speech, equality before the law, forms of political participation, and forms of solidarity.

However, on closer inspection we are quickly confronted with tensions and problems. Even very open societies limit the freedoms of their citizens. Are those limitations justifiable, and what does that say about the self-image of open societies? For example, it is legitimate to restrict freedom for the sake of security? Or to prevent a climate catastrophe? Is an open society compatible with strict border controls?

Further questions eminate from an international perspective. Is the "open society" not just a Western idea? Do we expect that all societies develop the same forms of "openness" as Europe? Is the open society perhaps even an expression of cultural imperialism?

This afternoon seminar aims to facilitate an exchange of ideas between researchers of the strategic theme on the concept of an open society and its normative foundations - explicitly from different perspectives and disciplines.

We cordally invite you to participate in this exciting quest for the spoken and unspoken principles of open societies!


Start date and time
14 September 2015 13:30
End date and time
14 September 2015 16:45