Prof. Dr. Rainer Forst

Curriculum Vitae

Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy
Department of Political Science and Department of Philosophy, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main

Rainer Forst studied philosophy, political science, and American studies in Frankfurt/Main, New York, and at Harvard University. After his involvement in the Leibniz research group on legal theory with J. Habermas in Frankfurt, Forst received his Ph.D. with a study on theories of political and social justice: “Kontexte der Gerechtigkeit. Politische Philosophie jenseits von Liberalismus und Kommunitarismus”, was published in 1994 with Suhrkamp (translated 2002 into English as “Contexts of Justice” with University of California Press; German 2004 German reprint edition; published in Portuguese with Paidós Verlag, 2010; a translation into Chinese is in preparation).

In the following years, Forst was an assistant professor at the Otto-Suhr-Institute for political science at Freie University in Berlin and since 1996 assistant professor at the department of philosophy at Goethe-University in Frankfurt/Main. In 1995/96 and 1999 he was visiting professor at the Graduate Faculty of New York's New School for Social Research. Forst received his Habilitation (second dissertation) in 2003 with his book “Toleranz im Konflikt. Geschichte, Gehalt und Gegenwart eines umstrittenen Begriffs” (published the same year with Suhrkamp, 5th reprint 2017; translated 2013 into English as “Toleration in Conflict” with Cambridge UP; translations into Spanish and Chinese are in preparation).

Forst had further visiting positions in Frankfurt and Gießen and received a Heisenberg grant from the German research association (DFG) before becoming full professor for philosophy and political theory at Goethe-University in Frankfurt in 2004 (succeeding I. Maus, prior to that I. Fetscher). In 2005/06 he was Theodor-Heuss-Professor at the New School for Social Research and since 2006 he is a board member and permanent fellow at the newly founded Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften in Bad Homburg. Forst rejected an offer to become full professor at the University of Chicago in 2007.

In 2007, he became co-director (with Prof. Dr. Klaus Günther) of the cluster of excellence Normative Orders at Goethe-University Frankfurt. His next book “Das Recht auf Rechtfertigung” was published in the fall of 2007 with Suhrkamp (2nd reprint edition in 2010) (published in English as »The Right to Justification« with Columbia UP in 2012; published in Swedish with Daidalos Press in 2007; a translation into Chinese is in preparation).

Forst was offered a visiting professorship from Harvard University in 2008 (not accepted). In 2009, he was “Harris Distinguished Visiting Professor” at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. At the same time, he was invited as a fellow by the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin and since 2009 he is co-director of the Centre for Advanced Studies Justitia Amplificata. His book “Kritik der Rechtfertigungsverhältnisse” was published 2011 with Suhrkamp (translated into English as “Justification and Critique” with Polity Press 2013; published in Italien with Trauben in 2013 and in Spanish with Katz 2015)

In 2012, the German research association (DFG) awarded Rainer Forst the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz-Prize for his academic work.

Forst was Senior Emile Noël Fellow at the Monnet Center at New York University's Law School in the fall term 2013/14. His debate with Wendy Brown was published in 2014 as “The power of Tolerance. A Debate” with Columbia UP. In the same year, “Justice, Democracy and the Right to Justification” was published with Bloomsbury, including essays from critics and a comprehensive reply. In 2015, he accepted visiting positions at Rice University (Housten) and at the University of Washington (Seattle). In that year, he published the book “Normativität und Macht” with Suhrkamp in 2015 (published in English as “Normativity and Power” with Oxford UP in 2017). Moreover, since 2017, Forst is research professor for political theory at the Wissenschaftszentrum für Sozialforschung (WZB) in Berlin. Quite recently he has rejected several international and national calls to universities. 

His work is often discussed internationally. In 2019 "Justification and Emancipation. The Critical Theory of Rainer Forst" with Pennsylvania State UP and "Constitutionalism Justified. Rainer Forst in Discourse" with Oxford UP were published, again with essays from critics and a reply. That year, he was also a Thomas E. Sunderland Faculty Fellow and Visiting Professor at the Law School of the University of Michigan. The year after, "Toleration, power and the right to justification. Rainer Forst in Dialogue" (Manchester UP) and "Theorising Noumenal Power. Rainer Forst and his Critics" (Routledge) were published. Additionally, his theory was under discussion in many symposiums of journals, such as Philosophy and Social CriticismPolitical TheoryNetherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy and Journal of Political Power.

Rainer Forst is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften and the Wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft at Goethe-University in Frankfurt. Furthermore, he is a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy for the Promotion of Historical, Philosophical and Philological Studies.

Further Academic Positions and Services:

  • 2010-2018: Associate Editor of Ethics. An International Journal of Moral, Political and Legal Philosophy (University of Chicago Press)
  • Member of the Executive Editorial Committee of Political Theory (Sage)
  • Member of the Editorial Council of Constellations. An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory (Blackwell)
  • Associate Editor of the European Journal of Political Theory (Sage)
  • Member of the Editorial Board of Contemporary Political Theory (Palgrave)
  • Consulting Editor of Philosophy & Social Criticism (Sage)
  • Member of the Editorial Council of Philosophisches Jahrbuch (Alber)
  • Member of the Editorial Council of Zeitschrift für Menschenrechte (Wochenschau)
  • Member of the Editorial Board of Politica & Società (Carocci)
  • Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Global Constitutionalism (Cambridge University Press)
  • Member of the Editorial Board of European Political Science Review (Cambridge University Press)
  • Member of the Editorial Board of Ethics and Global Politics (Coaction Publishers)
  • Member of the Advisory Board of Public Reason. Journal of Political and Moral Philosophy (University of Bukarest)
  • Member of the Editorial Board of Jus Cogens. A Critical Journal of Philosophy of Law and Politics (Springer)
  • Member of the Editorial Board of Moral Philosophy and Politics (de Gruyter)

  • Co-Editor of the book series "Theorie und Gesellschaft", Campus Verlag, Frankfurt/M. and New York
  • Co-Editor of the book series "Normative Orders" of the Cluster of Excellence, together with K. Günther, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt/M. and New York
  • Member of the Editorial Board of the "European Consortium for Political Research Press", which publishes four book series (ECPR Monographs, ECPR Classics, ECPR New Research, ECPR Essays)
  • Member of the Editorial Board of the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 3rd edition

Referee for further international Journals (Journal of Political Philosophy, American Political Science Review, etc.) and presses (Cambridge UP, Oxford UP, Columbia UP, Stanford UP, Penn State UP, etc.)

Director of the International MA-Program in Political Theory, funded by the German Academic Exchange Service