Leibniz Lecture: Toleration and Democracy



Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 18:00 - 20:00


Faculty of Social Science, Room 4007
University of Ottawa,
120 University, Social Science Building,
Ottawa, Ontario 


Opening remarks:
Allan Rock, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Ottawa 
Werner Wnendt, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Canada
Eva-Maria Streier, Director, New York Office, German Research Foundation (DFG)

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is proud to present the first Leibniz Lecture in
Canada. Professor Rainer Forst, Leibniz Prize winner of 2012, will be addressing the
subject of “Toleration and Democracy.” The event takes place in cooperation with the
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Canada and the University of Ottawa.

A brief abstract of the lecture:
“While some believe toleration and democracy to be twin virtues, others see them in
conflict, toleration belonging to an absolutist era. The reason for this is an ambivalence
of the concept of toleration. Based on a distinction between two different conceptions of
toleration and their grounds, it is argued that a conception based on mutual respect is
the appropriate one for a modern, pluralist democracy. This is being explained with
reference to contemporary examples.”

Nationally and internationally, Rainer Forst is considered the most important German
political philosopher of his generation. As the Frankfurt-based scholar continues the German
— and especially Frankfurtian — political philosophy of Jürgen Habermas and Axel
Honneth, and engages it critically with American representatives like John Rawls, he shapes
his very own philosophy. It revolves mainly around the basic concepts of justice, tolerance
and justification. In a highly original fashion, Forst has contemplated and formulated the
insight that humans have always been embedded in various “practices of justification.”
These require that ultimately all actions must be legitimized according to particular logics of
morality, law and other discourses. Our practical reasoning is the ability to recognize and
accept these logics — such is Forst’s far-reaching conclusion as a political philosopher.