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Dorota Mokrosinska receives ERC Starting Grant

Assistant professor Political Philosophy Dorota Mokrosinska has received the ERC Starting Grant for her project Democratic Secrecy: A Philosophical Study of the Role of Secrecy in Democratic Governance. The project, running from 2015 to 2020 is funded by the European Research Council

Democratic secrecy

The starting hypothesis of the project is that secrecy is not always inimical to democratic governance as conventional wisdom has it. Whereas the importance of transparency seems undisputed, many feel that complete transparency would undermine effective functioning of governments, and that some degree of secrecy is needed. Take the public responses to the Wikileaks disclosures: many of the disclosures were assessed favorably, but few people defended the idea of total transparency that inspired them. 

Centered around two theses

If both complete secrecy and complete transparency are to be rejected, what ratio of secrecy and transparency in democratic politics should we seek? For example, does democratic commitment to transparency require that classified intelligence programs or closed-door political bargaining be abolished? Democratic theory leaves such questions unanswered. This project develops a theory of democratic secrecy centered around two theses: 

  1. Secrecy in exercising executive and legislative power can be democratically authorized; 
  2. Secrecy protects the integrity of democratic decision-making processes; 

To complement the theory, the project develops:

  1.  Criteria for establishing which trade-offs between claims of transparency and those of secrecy in politics are acceptable, and which are not; 
  2. Criteria for political accountability with regard to wielding political secrets;  
  3. Criteria for assessing responsibility for unauthorized disclosures by civil servants and the media.

 Dorota Mokrosinska

Dorota Mokrosinska obtained her PhD in philosophy ( cum laude) from the University of Amsterdam. Her dissertation won the 2008 National Biennal Dissertation Prize awarded by the Dutch Research School in Ethics. With the Rubicon grant awarded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, she spent time as a Visiting Scholar at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. On her return to the Netherlands, she took up a Postdoctoral Research position at the University of Amsterdam. In Spring/Summer 2013 she was a Departmental Guest at the Department of Politics at Princeton University. In 2014/2015 she worked as a Research Associate at the Department of Political Science of the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main.

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