Dr.  David Lanius

Dr. David Lanius

  • Karlsruher Institut für Technologie
    Institut für Philosophie
    Geb. 09.20
    Douglasstraße 24
    76133 Karlsruhe


The rise of populism is currently threatening democracy in many Western societies. Populism may simply be the symptom of a general disappointment in democracy or the changes in political and societal communication brought about by the internet. But it certainly is fueled by a social divide in our societies and a lack of inclusive debate and democratic deliberation. I strongly believe that argumentation and debate are the best means to solve conflicts, to coordinate (doxastic) differences, and to bridge the gap between people with different interests and convictions. In other words, I believe that argumentation and debate are our best chance to counter political polarization, populism, fake news, and hate speech.

My aim is to strengthen both deliberative and participatory democracy by uncovering the conditions for constructive conflict. I am particularly interested in how (and whether) people change their convictions based on rational argumentation. Are good arguments ultimately convincing also to someone who does not share one's beliefs already? How are we to argue with people who believe in "alternative facts?" Are there specific argumentative practices tied to modern populism? But the question that contains all the others is: How can the quality of public debates be improved? I work at DebateLab with Gregor Betz to answer this question.

I'm a member of the European Network for Argumentation and Public Policy Analysis (APPLY: Cost Action 17132), trying to improve the way European citizens understand, evaluate and contribute to public debate and political decision-making. Also, I'm running the Forum für Streitkultur with Romy Jaster to practically improve the standards of discourse in Germany. Finally, I'm member of DFG's Arguing in the School network organised by David Löwenstein.

At the moment I'm analyzing arguments used by and against right-wing populist political parties and leaders in Europe. I am especially interested in the use of fake news and “alternative facts” within populist arguments as well as the effectiveness of rational argumentation in general.

I am also more generally interested in how to make philosophy fruitful to societal issues and in how to teach philosophy to students in universities and schools. Part of my research concerns thus questions of applied philosophy, philosophy of education, and the didactics of philosophy.

Areas of expertise

Philosophy of language, philosophy of law, epistemology, logic, argumentation theory, and didactics of philosophy

Areas of interest (non-exclusive)

Linguistics, psychology, political philosophy, moral philosophy, and philosophy of education

Selected Publications



Short CV

2020  today Interim professor at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz  

2017 – today

PostDoc at DebateLab at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) with Gregor Betz and Michael Schefzcyk



Fellowship at Weizenbaum Institute in the project "News, Campaigns and the Rationality of Public Discourse" with Ulrike Klinger


2012 – 2017

PhD at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in the research project “Dealing Reasonably with Blurred Boundaries” under the supervision of Geert Keil and Ralf Poscher (summa cum laude)



Fellowship at University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles with Andrei Marmor


2010 – 2011

Logic Year at Institute of Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) at Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA) [thesis]


2007 – 2010

Magister Philosophiae (MPhil) at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich (with distinction) [thesis]


2008 – 2009

Research year at Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)


2005 – 2007

Basic studies of Magister Artium (MA) in philosophy and economics at Universität Regensburg