Open Societies and the Ordinary Virtues
Venue: Statenzaal, Maastricht University, Faculty of Law
The key values of open societies –democracy, rule of law, justice, tolerance, respect for knowledge– are increasingly under threat in Europe and across the globe. Constitutional democracies are rarely abolished overnight: much more often, democratic decline is incremental, and targets courts, media, independent institutions and NGOs, and, most clearly in the case of Hungary, (some) universities. The challenges to the key values call for a reconsideration of these very values: what are their main achievements and failures? What are their prospects? And what is the role of academics in protecting and upholding them?
Born in Canada, educated at the University of Toronto and Harvard, Michael Ignatieff is a university professor, writer and former politician. His major publications are The Needs of Strangers (1984), Scar Tissue (1992), Isaiah Berlin (1998), The Rights Revolution (2000), Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry (2001), The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (2004), Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics (2013), and The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World (2017).
Between 2006 and 2011, he served as an MP in the Parliament of Canada and then as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Leader of the Official Opposition. He is a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and holds twelve honorary degrees. Between 2012 and 2015 he served as Centennial Chair at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York. Between 2014 and 2016 he was Edward R. Murrow Chair of the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.
He is currently the Rector and President of Central European University in Budapest.
During the 43rd Dies Natalis Celebration on 25 January, an honorary doctorate will be awarded to Michael Ignatieff for his work.
Read more about Ignatieff's ideas in Lessons in freedom and hope from a preternatural optimist.