Radboud Reflects: Freedom and Democracy

Lecture and conversation by philosopher Lea Ypi
English program
Radboud Reflects

What does it  mean to be free? The world renowned philosopher Lea Ypi grew up in communist Albania and draws from her personal experience to investigate the complicated relation between freedom and democracy. She is the author of the prizewinning book  Free: Coming of Age at the End of History. Come and on learn on 6 November from Lea Ypi that true freedom, is not just about the absence of oppression but also about the presence of structures that enable equality and universal human flourishing.

A deeper understanding of freedom

Lea Ypi critiques both socialism and liberalism. Freedom is often characterized as the ability to exercise one’s right to vote, to express opinions freely, and to participate in the political process. However despite living in democracies, many individuals find their freedoms restricted by various factors such as economic disparities, social prejudices, and political corruption. This consequently hinders human flourishing which, according to Ypi, is precisely what constitutes true freedom.

The paradox of democracy

When citizens, disillusioned by politicians and the government, vote for populist parties as a form of protest, a significant dilemma arises. This expression of freedom, paradoxically, can potentially destabilize the very democratic structures it operates within. This raises concerns about democracy’s effectiveness and inclusiveness. Should we embrace such outcomes as part of the democratic process or see them as a threat to it? This paradox appears to threaten the very freedom that democracy is supposed to protect.

Lea Ypi’s perspective offers a critical reflection on our understanding of freedom and democracy, pushing for a broader conversation in a way that is respectful of both individual and collective needs. After her lecture, public administration scholar Marlies Honingh will interview Lea  Ypi and discuss her work. There will also be an opportunity for you to ask questions.

This lecture will be in English.

About the speakers

Lea Ypi is professor in Political Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Scienc. She is the author of several bestsellers. Her prizewinning philosophical memoir Free: Coming of Age at the End of History has been translated into more than twenty languages. Free was named a Book of the Year in (among others) the Sunday Times, New Yorker, Financial Times, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Spectator, New Statesman, and Daily Mail. Prospect Magazine has named Professor Ypi one of 2022’s ‘World’s Top Ten Thinkers’.

Marlies Honingh is an associate professor of Public Administration at Radboud University. Honingh’s research focuses on civic democracy. This concerns issues of governance, checks and balances, supervision, citizenship and co-production. She is also the co-founder and coordinator of The Hot Spot Sustainable Democracy, which focuses on interdisciplinary research on democracy.


Participation costs € 7,50 | RU employees, Alumni Benefits Card-holders pay € 5,-  | Students and pupils and Radboud Reflects-subscribers have free admittance.

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