Planning and Society – Assessing the Possibility of Institutional Design

  • Dennis Graemer

Student thesis: Phd


The thesis is concerned with the idea of political rationalism or Prometheanism. Prometheanism claims that institutions and even whole societies can and should be consciously planned, rationally designed, or deliberately constructed. This idea shall be defended against its critics. The thesis will explain what political rationalism is and how it has been attacked. It will explain, assess, and refute a number of anti-Promethean arguments that have been proposed by some of the most influential political thinkers of the modern age. Among the critics are the German irrationalists Ludwig Klages and Oswald Spengler, the British conservatives Edmund Burke and David Hume, and the Austrian economist F.A. Hayek. By showing that the arguments leveraged against political rationalism are flawed, this thesis demonstrates that the conscious design of society still deserves serious consideration. In addition, this thesis will illuminate the history of Prometheanism. It will highlight the role of political rationalism during the Enlightenment and its function as a legitimising principle of the American and French revolutions. It will also showcase how the critique of reason in politics motivated different political camps: conservatives, right-wing extremists, and liberals. Thereby, the thesis strives to establish the practical importance of its subject matter.
Date of Award1 Aug 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorThomas Uebel (Supervisor) & John O'Neill (Supervisor)


  • Spontaneous Order
  • Planning
  • Burke
  • Hayek
  • Institutional Design
  • Political Rationalism
  • Political Philosophy
  • Prometheanism

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