Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)

Mr U. (Ugur) Aytac


  • Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
    Programme group: Challenges to Democratic Representation
  • Visiting address
    REC BC
    Nieuwe Achtergracht 166  Room number: B10.01
  • Postal address:
    Postbus  15578
    1001 NB  Amsterdam
  • u.aytac@uva.nl

I am a PhD candidate in political theory at the University of Amsterdam. I received my BA in philosophy & economics from Bogazici University and my MA in philosophy & economics from the University of Bayreuth. My research interests lie primarily in methodological debates in political theory, legitimacy of political authority, and normative aspects of economic institutions. My secondary interests include moral philosophy, social theory, and epistemology.

Research Topic:

In my dissertation, I develop a realist account of legitimacy by modifying and applying Bernard Williams’ realism to the case of transnational capitalism. I start by elaborating on the empirical observations about the discourse of depoliticization of transnational capitalism (TNC) and ordinary citizens’ volatile judgments regarding the merits of TNC. One of the consequences I infer from these observations is that citizens’ attitudes toward TNC are a matter of context-dependent normative judgements in spite of the dominant discourse of depoliticization that systematically locates economic issues beyond normative disputes. Secondly, I provide a general conceptual framework to interpret these kinds of disputes between political elites and ordinary citizens over the boundaries of the political, (i.e. the controversy about what counts as an intelligible subject matter for normative political disagreement). I argue that these disputes constitute a dimension of the theory of political legitimacy because a particular conception of the political inevitably shapes the way state power is exercised over its citizens. When there is a mismatch between the state-favoured conception of the political and its citizen-favoured correlate, it leads to a legitimacy deficit that is not reducible to other kinds of normative deficiencies. After establishing the general theoretical model, I use it to discern the conditions under which TNC implies a similar kind of legitimacy deficit. This application mainly relies on the idea that the power of Multinational Corporations (MNCs) over citizens is the indirect product of the institution-making power of the states, even if it is claimed to be non-political (i.e. depoliticized). Thirdly, I discuss a possible institutional proposal that might be exploited to reform our democratic setting in a way where private economic power can effectively be held accountable. Furthermore, I also review and respond to the objection that the arbitrary power of MNCs is not avoidable because of the objective constraints imposed by globalization.

  • ‘Two Conceptions of Legitimacy: A Response to Fabian Wendt’s Moralist Critique of Political Realism’, Kriterion – Journal of Philosophy [European Reference Index for the Humanities, The Philosopher’s Index] 31(3), (2017), pp. 57-76
  • Co-founder of Bogazici Political Economy Society 2011-2014
  • Amsterdam Center for Political Thought 2018-present
  • OZSW Peer-review Circle in Practical Philosophy 2018-present
  • No ancillary activities

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