Deadline: 2015-04-28

PhD candidate in the project-Democratic Secrecy

Scholarship details:

The PhD Candidate will work within a research project entitled: Democratic Secrecy: A Philosophical Study of the Role of Secrecy in Democratic Governance, which aims to explore the legitimacy of secrecy in democratic politics. The project is funded by the European Research Council by means of an ERC Starting Grant. The Principal Investigator of this project is dr. Dorota Mokrosinska (Philosophy, Leiden University).
Short description of the project
Transparency in politics is the mantra of democratic governance. Despite its revered status, many feel that complete transparency would undermine effective functioning of governments. If both complete secrecy and complete transparency are to be rejected, what balance of secrecy and transparency in politics should we seek? Democratic theory leaves this question unanswered. This project (1) formulates a theory regarding the democratic legitimacy of political secrets in executive and legislative power, (2) develops criteria for political accountability with regard to wielding political secrets and (3) criteria for assessing responsibility for unauthorized disclosures by civil servants and the media.
PhD project Legislative Secrecy and Democratic Accountability
For the PhD position we are looking for a philosopher or a political scientist with specialization in political theory to explore the place of secrecy in the legislative process, and in particular parliamentary decision – making.
The starting hypothesis of the project is that secrecy is not always inimical to democratic decision – making as conventional wisdom has it. More accountability does not necessarily require more openness. The PhD project explores (1) the idea that secrecy is often related to the strategic dimension of political decision – making and examines (2) the impact of the strategic uses of secrecy in decision – making on political accountability of representatives. In this context, some experience with social choice theory is an advantage. The results of the project are to be subsequently applied to the issue of institutional design of the existing mechanisms of political accountability (preferably in the Dutch political context).

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Key responsibilities

  • Writing a Ph.D. thesis within 4 years;
  • Submitting research results for publication in international peer – reviewed academic journals (either individually or co – authored);
  • Presenting papers at (international) conferences and workshops;
  • Some assistance in organizing international conferences and workshops with the PI and other members of the ERC project;
  • Participating in activities within the remit of the ERC Starting Grant project, the interdepartmental research cluster Political Legitimacy as well as the Departmental activities.

Selection criteria

  • A relevant master degree;
  • An outstanding record of undergraduate and Master’s degree work;
  • Some experience with or willingness to familiarize himself/herself with core concepts of social choice theory, and issues related to strategic reasoning in democratic deliberation;
  • Strong oral and written communication skills in English and the ability to publish the results of research in scientific journals are a must;
  • Capacity to collaborate across the academic disciplines;
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of the team with good organizational and social skills.





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