The notion of the Open Society is a pragmatic ideal for confident liberal democracies. Accepting that all knowledge is incomplete and fallible means such societies are always open to improvement and comfortable with cultural and religious pluralism.
Yet it is all too easy to conflate 'the open society' in its positive content with the institutions, economies and cultures of advanced liberal democracies. The animating ideals of critical and scientific reasoning have most value when questioning which aspects of such societies are becoming ossified or maladaptive in the face of social, economic and technological change. By failing to subject assumptions in these areas to critical scrutiny, advocates can at once alienate those that might have reasonable disagreements, and prevent the reform and sustainability of cherished ideals and institutions in conventionally open, but increasingly insecure societies.
The Open Society Dialogues explore the tensions, hidden assumptions and challenges to the ideals and institutions that are constitutive of openness: human rights, transparency, cultural tolerance and free markets. We bring together leading thinkers and critics to tease out and challenge the practices and values necessary for sustaining an open society that is secure enough to constantly challenge assumptions in the face of new evidence, knowledge and social change.
With Professor John Gray, philosopher
Professor Francesca Klug OBE, London School of Economics
Aryeh Neier, President of the Open Society Foundations
January 26 2011
With Evgeny Morozov, author of The Net Delusion,
Dan Hind, author of the Return of the Public
Ben Hammersley, Editor-at-Large of Wired UK
Tom Chatfield, author of Fun Inc.
May 27 2011
Tolerance: Is there a limit to how tolerant liberal societies can be?
Douglas Murray, writer and commentator
Trevor Philips, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission
Professor Shamit Saggar, University of Sussex
Other speakers to be confirmed
23 June 2011
John Kay, The Financial Times
Diane Coyle, Enlightenment Economics (chair)
17 August 2011
For more information, get in touch with Dan Leighton.