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Democratic Secrecy: A Philosophical Study of the Role of Secrecy in Democratic Politics

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 DEMSEC project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the DEMSEC project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "DEMSEC" about.

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Project "DEMSEC" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: RAPENBURG 70
city: LEIDEN
postcode: 2311 EZ

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Netherlands [NL]
 Project website
 Total cost 1˙075˙109 €
 EC max contribution 1˙075˙109 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2014-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2015
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2015-08-01   to  2020-07-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN NL (LEIDEN) coordinator 1˙075˙109.00


 Project objective

Transparency in politics is the mantra of democratic governance. Should state secrecy, such as classified intelligence programs or closed-door political bargaining be abolished? Despite its revered status, many feel that complete transparency would undermine effective functioning of governments. Take the public responses to the Wikileaks disclosures: many of the disclosures were assessed favorably, but few people defended the idea of total transparency that inspired them.

If both complete secrecy and complete transparency are to be rejected, what ratio of secrecy and transparency in politics should we seek? Democratic theory leaves this question unanswered: no systematic assessment of the role of secrecy in a democracy is available. This project solves this problem. By employing the tools of analytic political philosophy, social choice and game theory, we develop a theory of democratic secrecy centred around three theses: 1. Secrecy in exercising executive and legislative power can be democratically authorized; 2. Secrecy protects the integrity of democratic decision-making processes; 3. Balancing secrecy and transparency is an exercise in balancing the values underlying democratic authority and democratic decision-making mechanisms.

The results of this philosophical study set a new course in democratic theory by demonstrating that democratic governance requires less openness than traditionally assumed. To complement the theory, criteria for political accountability for wielding political secrets and criteria for assessing responsibility for their unauthorized disclosure are designed. Our results have practical relevance: understanding when and why secrecy is morally acceptable may change the policy approach to transparency provisions, and provide a better fit between the “public right to know” and the needs of governments. Scholars from Poland and the Netherlands assess the use of governmental secrecy in these two, respectively old and new, EU member states.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2017 Eric R. Boot
Classified Public Whistleblowing: How to Justify a pro tanto Wrong?
published pages: , ISSN: 0037-802X, DOI:
Social Theory and Practice 43(3) 2019-05-29
2018 Eric R. Boot
No Right to Classified Public Whistleblowing
published pages: 70-85, ISSN: 0952-1917, DOI: 10.1111/raju.12192
Ratio Juris 31/1 2019-05-29
2017 Eric R. Boot
Review of the book Conscience and Conviction: The Case for Civil Disobedience. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012
published pages: 395-401, ISSN: 2352-1244, DOI:
Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 109 2019-05-29
2018 Dorota Mokrosinska
Privacy and Autonomy: On Some Misconceptions Concerning the Political Dimensions of Privacy
published pages: 117-143, ISSN: 0167-5249, DOI: 10.1007/s10982-017-9307-3
Law and Philosophy 37/2 2019-05-29
2017 Dorota Mokrosinska
Tajna polityka – proba uzasadnienia
published pages: 141-160, ISSN: 1428-2631, DOI:
Civitas. Studia z Filozofii Polityki 20 2019-05-29
2018 Dorota Mokrosinska
The People’s Right to Know and State Secrecy
published pages: 87-106, ISSN: 0841-8209, DOI: 10.1017/cjlj.2018.4
Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence 31/01 2019-05-29

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The information about "DEMSEC" are provided by the European Opendata Portal: CORDIS opendata.

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