Rainer Forst Delivers Spring Katz Lecture on “Toleration and Democracy”

Please join us on Wednesday, April 29, as Rainer Forst delivers the Spring 2015 Katz Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities. His lecture, “Toleration and Democracy,” takes place at 7 pm in Kane Hall 210. 

Recent acts of violence have given greater urgency to questions about religious and racial intolerance. But today—as in former times—we do not just find conflicts about where to draw the limits of toleration; rather, we also find conflicts about whether toleration is a virtue at all. For some, it is essential for a flourishing pluralistic democracy; for others, it is a pre-democratic attitude and practice, in Goethe’s famous words, “an insult.” This lecture explains these conflicts and argues for a particular democratic notion of toleration.

Rainer Forst (Political Theory and Philosophy, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University) is a leading German philosopher and political theorist whose primary areas of research are pragmatism, tolerance, and political and social justice. A student of noted intellectuals Jürgen Habermas and John Rawls, Forst bridges what at one time were seemingly separate worlds of political theory (most prominently represented by critical theory of the Frankfurt School) and analytic political philosophy. He has been called the “most important political philosopher of his generation.”

Forst received the most prestigious research prize in Germany, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, in 2012. He is Co-director of the Research Cluster “The Formation of Normative Orders,” Co-director of the Justitia Amplificata Center for Advanced Studies, and Director of the Leibniz Research Group “Transnational Justice.” He is the author of numerous publications in German, and his works reprinted in English include Justification and Critique (2011), The Right to Justification: Elements of a Constructivist Theory of Justice (2007), and Contexts of Justice: Political Philosophy Beyond Liberalism and Communitarianism (1994).

Forst will spend the week of April 27 in residence at the University of Washington, contributing to a microseminar for graduate students, “Toleration and Justification: The Philosophy of Rainer Forst.” He will also hold an informal seminar, “A Critical Theory of Human Rights,” at 3:30 pm on April 30 at the Simpson Center (Communications 206).

Forst postcard

The Simpson Center Katz Distinguished Lectures in the Humanities series recognizes scholars in the humanities and emphasizes the role of the humanities in liberal education. The series is named after Solomon Katz, who served in many capacities for 53 years at the UW: Professor and Chair of History, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs. UW Professor Thomas Lockwood (English) delivered the Fall 2014 Katz Lecture, “Is Eating Babies Really So Terrible? The Dark Genius of Jonathan Swift.” Anne Balsamo (Dean of the School of Media Studies, The New School) delivered the Winter 2015 Katz Lecture, “Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work in the Creation of Cultural Heritage.”

All Katz Lectures are free and open to the public. Read more about the Katz Lecture series.

Be Boundless for Washington | For the World