Psychological categories such as authority and trust play an important role not only in the formation of values, but also in the interaction of the political actors.
The project examines the importance of authority in social and political contexts. Authority is understood psychologically as a phenomenon that is closely connected to emotions and emotion related phenomena such as recognition, esteem and trust: Authority is a position – ascribed and/or adopted –, that rests on emotions such as trust and in turn also creates such emotions. But although mechanisms of this kind are crucial to democratic processes, the dominant model of political philosophy, especially in debates about democracy, still relies heavily on purely formal reason: political philosophy in the second half of the 20th century and to the present day assumes that the foundation of democratic states, the cohabitation of free and equal citizens, can be described principally as a series of rational decisions and balance of interests. The project seeks to introduce a more differentiated mode of description by including the emotional mechanisms that belong to political opinion and decision making into a theory of political agency.