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Compromised truth: political and philosophical relativism in Hans Kelsen’s foundation of Democracy

by Ernesto C. Sferrazza Papa

pp. 129-142 Issue 20 (10, 2) - July-December, 2023 ISSN (online): 2539/2239 ISSN (print): 2389-8232 DOI:


This essay briefly investigates the relationship between truth and democracy in Hans Kelsen’s political philosophy. Especially in The Essence and Value of Democracy (1920–1929) and Foundations of Democracy (1955–1956), Kelsen discusses the connection between democratic pluralism and epistemological and moral relativism, arguing that one cannot be given without the other. In the essay, I analyze Kelsen’s argument, focusing on the critical and problematic implications of the absolute relativism he defends.


relativism, politics, democracy
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