Jakob Huber

I am a political philosopher, currently based at the Cluster of Excellence The Formation of Normative Orders at Goethe University Frankfurt/Main.

Prior to that, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Studies Justitia Amplificata.

I came to Frankfurt from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where I received my PhD in 2017.


In my research, I attempt to make themes from Kant’s philosophy fruitful for a variety of issues in contemporary political philosophy. Prior work (including my Phd thesis, which is available here) focused on Kant’s cosmopolitanism and its relation to topical debates at the intersection of migration, membership and boundaries. My current project develops a Kant-inspired framework for thinking about the role and significance of hope specifically in the context of democratic politics.

Democratic Hope

In times of a prevailing sense of crisis and disorder in modern politics, there is a growing sentiment that anger and despair or at least resignation and apathy are more appropriate attitudes to navigate the world than hope. Political theorists have long shared this suspicion and shied away from theorising hope systematically. While for some hope is a gritty fact of political practice that does not belong in normative theory, others see it as expressing a doe-eyed approach to the world that detracts from what is to be done ‘here and now’ and leads to disappointment or even more destructive sentiments by inflating our ideas of what is possible.

The aim of my project is to resist this tendency by vindicating hope as a vital component of democratic life. In making this argument, I will draw on Immanuel Kant’s account of hope. For Kant, hope is a foundational kind of state that plays an important role in our practical engagement with the world in general. In particular, hope allows us to retain our resolve to act when the odds of making a difference are dim. Hence, it is not something we take refuge with once there is nothing else left to do but it is intricately intertwined with contexts of action.

I will set out to show that hope, conceived along these lines, is particularly indispensable for democratic agents. For they often find themselves torn precisely between the democratic promise that they can make a difference on the one hand, and the seeming futility of their efforts amidst institutions and processes that are often experienced as slow and unresponsive, on the other. Active engagement in democratic practices thus requires agents to find ways of fending off despair, frustration and demoralisation in the face of their own ostensible inefficacy. This motivates my attempt to develop a systematic account of democratic hope that is sensitive to its unavoidability as much as its dangers.


normative orders

Since July 2018 I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Cluster of Excellence The Formation of Normative Orders at Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, where I work on a project on democratic hope.

Justitia Amplificata

In 2017/18, I was a postdoctoral fellow with the Centre for Advanced Studies Justitia Amplificata at Goethe University Frankfurt/Main.


I received my PhD in Political Theory from the London School of Economics and Political Science (Department of Government) in 2017. My thesis was supervised by Prof Katrin Flikschuh.

University of Toronto

In 2015, I spent some time as a visiting graduate student at the University of Toronto’s Philosophy Department (invited by Arthur Ripstein).

University of Oxford

I graduated with an MPhil in Political Theory (with Distinction) from the University of Oxford in 2013.


I also hold an MSc in International Relations Theory (with Distinction) from the LSE.

Freie Universität Berlin

As an undergraduate, I studied Political Science (BA) at the Free University of Berlin


  • In August 2019, I will be at the 13th International Kant Congress in Oslo.
  • In August 2019, I will participate in a roundtable discussion of Annie Stilz’s Territorial Sovereignty: A Philosophical Exploration at APSA in Washington, DC.
  • During September and October 2019, I will be a Visiting Scholar with the Research Group on Global Justice at McGill University in Montreal.
Research group on global justice
October 2019


Peer-Reviewed Articles

Defying Democratic Despair: A Kantian Account of Hope in Politics

in European Journal of Political Theory [published version] [preprint]

EU Citizens in Post-Brexit UK: The Case for Automatic Naturalisation

forthcoming in Journal of European Integration [published version] [preprint]

Legitimacy as Public Willing: Kant on Freedom and the Law

in Ratio Juris 32(1), 2019, 102-116. [published version]  [preprint]

Gentrification and Occupancy Rights (co-authored with Fabio Wolkenstein)

in Politics, Philosophy & Economics 17(4), 2018, 378–397. [published version]

Kant’s cosmopolitanism as a task set to humankind

in History of Philosophy Quarterly 35(1), 2018, 39-57. [published version] [preprint]

Pragmatic Belief and Political Agency

in Political Studies 66(3), 2018, pp. 651–666. [published version] [preprint]

Theorising from the Global Standpoint: Kant and Grotius on Original Common Possession of the Earth

in European Journal of Philosophy 25(2), 2017, pp. 231–249 [published version] [preprint]

Cosmopolitanism for Earth Dwellers: Kant on the Right to be Somewhere

in Kantian Review 17(1), 2017, pp. 1-25. [published version] [preprint]

No right to unilaterally claim your territory: on the consistency of Kantian statism

in Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 20(6), 2017, 677-696. [published version] [preprint]

What makes Human Rights ‘Political’? A Kantian Critique

in Journal for Human Rights / Zeitschrift für Menschenrechte 7(2), 2013, pp. 127-141. [published version]

Book Chapters

The Underrated Premium of Territorial Arrival

forthcoming 2020 in The Shifting Border: Ayelet Shachar in Dialogue, part of the „Critical Powers“ series edited by Antony Simon Laden, Peter Niesen and David Owen (Manchester: Manchester University Press).

Hoffnung und Utopie (co-authored with Claudia Blöser)

forthcoming in Handbuch Religionsphilosophie, edited by Heiko Schulz, Christian Wiese, Catherina Wenzel (Stuttgart: Metzler Verlag).

Book Reviews

Review of „The Struggle for Democracy: Paradoxes of Progress and the Politics of Change“ by Christopher Meckstroth (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

in Constellations 18(4), 2018, 628-648. [published version]

Review of „As If: Idealization and Ideals“ by Kwame Anthony Appiah (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017).

forthcoming in Contemporary Political Theory. [online first]


I teach both in the history of political thought and contemporary political philosophy. Here are some of the seminars I currently teach or have taught in the past:

Hoffnung in der Politischen Philosophie (Hope in Political Philosophy)

MA Seminar, Goethe University Frankfurt SoSe 2019 (mit Claudia Blöser)

Während Hoffnung im politischen Leben allgegenwärtig ist, haben sich politische PhilosophInnen nur selten systematisch mit ihr auseinandergesetzt.

Ziel des Seminars ist es, sich dem Begriff sowie dem Phänomen der Hoffnung philosophisch zu nähern, wobei unser Augenmerk auf seiner Rolle in der Politik liegen wird. Was ist Hoffnung und was genau tun wir, wenn wir hoffen? Spielt Hoffnung in politischen Kontexten eine besondere Rolle, und welche Gefahren (wie etwa Wunschdenken) gehen mit ihr einher? Gibt es so etwas wie kollektive oder sogar genuin demokratische Hoffnungen? Wie verhält sich Hoffnung gegenüber Einstellungen wie Optimismus und Fortschrittsglaube auf der einen, Verzweiflung und Resignation auf der anderen Seite?

Um diese und weitere Fragen zu beantworten werden wir uns sowohl mit ideengeschichtlichen Texten zur Hoffnung (etwa Kant, Bloch, Rorty) also auch mit Beiträgen aus der gegenwärtigen politischen Philosophie auseinandersetzen.

Politische Utopien (Political Utopias)

MA Seminar, Goethe University Frankfurt 2018/19

Als Utopie bezeichnet man den imaginären Entwurf einer idealen gesellschaftlichen Ordnung, deren Realisierung als unmöglich oder sehr unwahrscheinlich eingeschätzt wird. Eine Utopie kann einen Spiegel darstellen, in dem die Defizite der Gegenwart hervortreten, oder einen idealen Zielpunkt der historischen Entwicklung und des politischen Kampfes markieren.

Utopien können aber auch die Risiken einer radikalen Veränderung thematisieren, indem sie die Utopie als Dystopie – den idealen als nicht wünschenswerten Zustand – entlarven. Das Seminar wird die normative und theoretische Relevanz von Utopien in ihren vielfältigen (zum Teil literarischen) Formen diskutieren. Dabei werden wir uns sowohl mit klassischen Utopien (Morus, Campanella, Bacon) also auch mit deren Kritikern (z.B. Popper, Marx) auseinandersetzen.

Abschließend wenden wir uns der Frage zu, ob das utopische Denken heute an ein Ende gekommen oder für die Diskussion alternativer gesellschaftlicher Ordnungen unverzichtbar ist. Dabei beziehen wir auch Debatten in der neueren anglo-amerikanischen politischen Philosophie mit ein.

Kants Politische Philosophie (Kant’s Political Philosophy)

BA Seminar, Hamburg University, 2017

Während Immanuel Kants Moralphilosophie seit jeher äußert einflussreich ist, erfreut sich seine politische Philosophie erst seit einigen Jahren zunehmender Beachtung. Das Seminar bietet eine systematische Einführung in Kants politisches Denken. Unser Ziel wird es sein, zentrale Ideen und Argumente zu verstehen, kritisch zu hinterfragen sowie zu diskutieren, inwieweit Kants Positionen etwa zu den Grundlagen politischer Herrschaft, der Legitimität zivilen Ungehorsams oder zu Völkerrecht und Migration auch für gegenwärtige Debatte in der Politischen Theorie noch relevant sind.

Neben genauer Lektüre der Primärtexte – wobei Ausschnitte aus Kants „Rechtslehre“ (Der Erste Teil der „Metaphysik der Sitten“) im Mittelpunkt stehen sollen – werden wir uns auch mit der (größtenteils englischsprachigen) jüngeren Sekundärliteratur auseinandersetzen.

Nach einer Einführung in wichtige Grundbegriffen des Kant’schen politischen Denkens wird der Fokus auf Kants Begründung von Eigentum und Staatlichkeit einerseits, sowie seiner kosmopolitischen Theorie globaler Ordnung andererseits liegen.

History of Political Philosphy

BA Seminar, King's College London, 2017 (Convenor: Prof David Owens)

The module will focus on key parts of three major texts from the history of modern political philosophy: Thomas Hobbes- Leviathan, John Locke - Second Treatise on Civil Government and David Hume - Treatise on Human Nature.
In this way, students will be introduced to a selection of the central texts, concepts, and debates in political philosophy.

Contemporary Political Theory

BA Seminar, LSE 2014/15 (Convenors: Dr Laura Valentini, Dr Kai Spiekermann)

This is a course in analytic normative political theory. It aims to introduce students to the main concepts that inform political discourse (i.e., liberty, equality, rights, justice, authority, and democracy) and the most prominent normative theories concerning those concepts; as well as some key substantive debates in contemporary political theory that invoke the above-mentioned concepts/theories, both at the domestic and at the global level (i.e., group rights, religious freedom, affirmative action, civil disobedience, democracy and judicial review, freedom of movement, global equality, climate change, territorial rights etc.).

Questions addressed during the course include: What is a free society? Are human beings morally equal? Do citizens have a duty to obey the law of their state? Why is democracy valuable? Should liberals respect illiberal minorities? Is affirmative action just? Is judicial review democratic? Should everyone in the world have equal opportunities? Should all those affected by the election of the U.S. president have a say in it?


Cluster of Excellence The Formation of Normative Orders
Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
60629 Frankfurt am Main

Mail: j.huber@em.uni-frankfurt.de

Phone: +49 (0)69 79831539

Dr. Jakob Huber