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Centre for Political Theory

Person in charge of the Unit : Oui

The Center for Political Theory is a research unit attached to the Institute of Sociology within the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences.

The CTP is also affiliated with the Maison des Sciences Humaines (MSH) of the ULB. The CTP brings together researchers from the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Political Science.

This double orientation corresponds to the nature of political theory, a field of study located at the crossroads of these two disciplines.

Perelman Center for legal philosophy

Henri Buch, Paul Foriers and Chaim Perelman created the Center Perelman for Philosophy of Law in 1967. The history of the Center is linked to the ''School of Brussels'' which was born of the meeting between the observation of the legal practice and the new rhetoric of Perelman. The Centre jointed the Faculty of Law in 1982. The Centre carries on the ''Brussels School 's spirit'' The centre develops its activities in the respect of the philosophy of '' Free Examination'' and with the three concerns of excellence, independence, and openmindedness, especially, on the international level. Transdisciplinary approaches are prioritesed. The main goal of the Centre is to further collective and individual researches in the field of philosophy of law in a large sense. It includes the followings: theory of law and legal methodology, legal logic and rhetoric, natural law, philosophy of law and political philosophy, and in general, all the aspects of the practical reason dealing with law.



Etat des lieux des doctrines contemporaines relatives à la justice politique et au bien public: communautarismes, libéralismes, républicanismes.  Les ressources de l'intégration sociale et politique à l'échelle métanationale et les transformations de l'Etat moderne.  La question de l'Etat européen.  La citoyenneté postnationale.  Le problème de la démocratisation de l'Union européenne.

Critiques of Human Rights

European Research Council Starting Grant 2010-2015

RESIT. Human rights versus democracy? Towards a conceptual genealogy of skepticism about human rights discourse in contemporary political thought.

The aim of this research project is to outline a conceptual genealogy and a critical typology of the theoretical arguments that have been advanced, in the name of democracy, against the dominant human rights discourse of contemporary societies. In light of the prolific literature on human rights in general, we might expect the counter arguments made since the Declarations of 1776 and 1789 to have been widely explored as an area of interest. This is not, however, the case. Whereas the reactionary critique of human rights dates far back and is well known, its modern equivalent – which often draws in important ways from the liberal tradition – is far less familiar terrain to political theorists. However, the central hypothesis running through this project is that challenges to human rights discourse must not be confused with antiliberal or antidemocratic stances. The main types of critique will be outlined, with an emphasis on their complexity and diverse nature, thus resisting the temptation to generalise them as part of a tradition of opposition to legal-political modernity. This typology will then be supplemented with historical contextualisation. Contemporary examples of the democratic critique of the primacy of human rights will be compared with historical examples of thinkers who criticised human rights as such, notably Bentham, Burke, Marx, De Maistre, Comte and Schmitt. The key research question is whether a common critical aim can be articulated from different intellectual starting points that are otherwise far apart; and whether or not the structure of the arguments that run through these approaches significantly changes the type of critique advanced.

The Anti-Enlightenment: counter-revolutionary thought of the 19th century and its contemporary descendants.

The Anti-Enlightenment: counter-revolutionary thought of the 19th century and its contemporary descendants. The different types of criticism of human rights, liberalism and democracy: conservatism, radical traditionalism, political romanticism.

The links of politics and religion: religious conceptions of politics and political theorizations of religion. Political theology and secularism.

Political theology and secularism.

Why Lefort Matters A Conceptual Genealogy of Contemporary Normative Cleavages

Claude Lefort (1924-2010) may be seen today as one of the leading political theorists of the late twentieth century. Yet the secondary literature on his output remains peculiarly sparse, especially outside the French-speaking world. Except a few specialist circles that recognise the ‘matricial’ place of his work, Lefort’s threefold contribution to the history of contemporary ideas, democratic theory, and understanding of current political issues remains undervalued or even unknown. Our research project sets out to bridge this gap using an approach that marries the history of ideas with normative theory. The aim is neither to write Lefort’s intellectual biography nor to offer an analysis of his work itself, but rather to treat Lefort’s writings as a gateway to four goals.