The ethics of history in a pluralistic democracy

Start - End 
2013 - 2016 (ongoing)
Department of Philosophy and moral sciences



The aim of this project is to study the ethical and political presuppositions of public forms of historical representation. I will do this by focusing on three important ways in which the general public comes into contact with history. First, I will study historiographical debates that extend beyond the borders of the university. Second, I will develop and apply the idea of 'moral anachronisms', which, roughly put, are objects or traditions from the past which express or symbolise moral values that do not seem to fit in with current-day society. Statues of morally contested persons (such as former dictators or war criminals) are typical examples. My third topic concerns the re-enactment of the past, both virtual and real-life. In all three topics, my aim is both descriptive and evaluative. First of all, I will investigate what these phenomena can tell us about the way society deals with the past, and how our representation of and relation with the past is connected to ethical and political presuppositions. Second, I will also develop prescriptive principles which can be used to evaluate, judge and, if necessary, change certain ways in which we relate to the past.