Solidarity and/or egality. How fair can the welfare state be?

Tuesday, 15. October 2013 | 11:45 Uhr


Georg Kohler


University Zurich


Professor Emeritus Georg Kohler of the University of Zurich initially pursued the question, “what does justice actually mean?”. According to Georg Kohler, there is formal justice, justice of distribution, and material justice. Subsequently, he explained the three principal motives which today’s welfare state can be traced back to: “First, the demand for justice, which is directly linked to the basic ideas of the liberal constitutional state. Second, the need for stability of all, including democratic forms of rule. And third, the citizens’ sense of solidarity, which is in the nature of the modern political nation. These three fundamental forces led in the second half of the last century to an unprecedented expansion of the welfare state’s responsibilities. Complementary thereto, strong criticism of these tendencies developed, which in turn can be justified for various reasons: the overburdened state budget is merely one of them; it is not least the effects of the ‘transnational constellation’ that today question the models of national social policies.”
Here you can find out which form of justice the current ‘1:12 initiative’ in Switzerland belongs to, his view on it, and what other important insights he passed on to the participants.

Georg Kohler

Georg Kohler studied philosophy in Zurich and Basel, and concluded with a study of Kantian aesthetics as lic. phil. Besides his work as an assistant to Hermann Luebbe and the drafting of his dissertation on Kant’s “Critique of Judgment” with Rudolf W. Meyer, he completed a second degree in law and graduated with a degree Lic. iur.

In 1980, he became the Dr. phil. doctorate. In the 1980s he worked in the private sector and as a freelance journalist. In 1988, he submitted his habilitation thesis’ «Handeln und Rechtfertigen. Untersuchungen zur Struktur der praktischen Rationalität» that got accepted. He was a lecturer at the University of Zurich.
After a Visiting Professor at the Geschwister-Scholl-Institut at the University of Munich, he was appointed in 1994 as a successor to Hermann Luebbe as full professor at the Department of political philosophy to Zurich, where he taught until he became Professor emeritus.

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