UB Conference Series – “Science for everyone’s understanding” announces a new event organized exclusively online, whose guest was associate professor Dorina Pătrunsu, PhD, professor at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Bucharest, who approached from a theoretical and philosophical perspective a topical issue, namely the relationship between freedom and democracy, discussing how free can human society be today.
Addressed to those passionate about philosophy or to those interested in a debate on these two fundamental concepts of society, the conference “How free can the society of free and rational people be? Freedom and democracy” invites us to think and discuss without prejudice both about rights and freedoms, as well as about the obligations of the individual in today’s society.
As the philosopher Dorina Pătrunsu points out, democracy promises neither truth, nor happiness, nor justice. It does not “ensure” any expectation in the horizon required by these ideals, nor does it intend to do so. Moreover, democracy does not have a control over the means by which all these expectations could be met, nor any special power to establish it. In fact, democracy is the peak of all this “ineffectiveness”, this way of thinking and understanding democracy being found not only in the effects encountered on the ground, but even in the reasons and grounds used in its election. It is what we know about democracy, therefore, any argument in favor of the desirability of democracy and any plausible request should neither exclude these “truths” nor take into account reality.
So how do we assess the benefits of democracy or how do we justify the desirability of democracy?
One of the stakes of this approach is to show that the freedom of individuals, contrary to common expectations and beliefs, is not necessarily ensured in a democracy, the link between freedom and democracy being neither necessary nor causal, but rather an empirical one, easily “breakable” if democracy is not governed by the “rule of law” and if freedom in turn does not weigh its “drive” to initiate regulations in “areas of non-interference”. Such a stake could be considered as devoid of practical value, even dangerous, inaccurately, and uncritically assuming that the undeclared intention is rather to take away from democracy the privilege it enjoys, making it dispensable not only in its choice of freedom, but in any choice in connection with a prosperous, secure life, free from existential worries.
But things are exactly the opposite: precisely because democracy would give real chances to the freedom of individuals, it is important not to miss the real expectations from it. In order to avoid this, we must take into account not only the possibilities available to democracy in achieving the conditions conducive to the exercise of individual freedom, but especially its limits in activating these possibilities. Democracy, in other words, is and remains credible because of these limitations and not because of the success it would have in obtaining the “goods” desired by either a vocal majority or a minority that has always been restricted throughout history.
The full recording of the conference can be accessed here.
Dorina Mihaela Pătrunsu holds a PhD in philosophy and is an associate professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest. She is the author of numerous studies and articles in her fields of interest (political and social philosophy, democracy, institutionalism, etc.), as well as of two volumes published by the University of Bucharest Publishing House: Effectiveness or Democracy? Philosophical Dilemmas on the Role of Democratic Political Institutions (2016) and Evolutionism vs. Institutional Constructivism. Perspectives on Institutional Change in Post-Communist Romania (2017).