Dirk Verhofstadt

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Dirk Verhofstadt
Foto Dirk OK.jpg
BornDirk Verhofstadt
(1955-08-25) August 25, 1955 (age 63)
Dendermonde, Belgium
EducationMoral Philosophy (Ph.D. 2010)
Alma materUniversity of Ghent
Subjectphilosophy, liberalism, social liberalism, atheism
RelativesGuy Verhofstadt (brother)

Philosophy career
SchoolSocial Liberalism
Main interests
liberalism, social liberalism, atheism, moral philosophy, ethics

Dirk Verhofstadt (b. Dendermonde 1955) is a Belgian social liberal (Rawlsian) theorist and younger brother of former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt. He has a keen interest in political philosophy, and his philosophical outlook is influenced by Karl Popper, John Stuart Mill, Cesare Beccaria, Thomas Paine, Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum.


He graduated in law and press- and communication sciences, and obtained a PhD in moral philosophy at the University of Ghent. He is professor Media and ethics at the University of Ghent.

On 1 July 2010 he obtained the degree of Doctor of Moral Science at the University of Ghent with his doctoral dissertation "Pius XII and the extermination of the Jews. A moral and historical research into the moral responsibility of Pope Pius XII regarding the Final Solution to the Jewish Question."

Think tank[edit]

He is a member of Liberales, an independent think tank within the liberal movement. Its members consider liberalism as a progressive movement supporting individual freedom, justice and human rights. Liberales reacts against what it calls "narrow minded conservatism" related to social economic, ecological and ethical issues supported by "compartmentalized" parties and structures.

His thought is believed[who?] to have influenced the VLD in its shift from the center-right to the center-left in the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade) (mostly under the leadership of his brother Guy).


With his book Het menselijk liberalisme (Human Liberalism) he inspires politicians in Belgian liberal parties as well as in the Dutch parties Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie and Democraten 66. He defends liberalism against attacks by anti-globalists, by stating that liberalism implies / should imply solidarity and that green politics is not contradictory to liberalism. He wrote the books Pleidooi voor het individualisme (A Plea for Individualism) and De derde feministische golf (The Third Feminist Wave), much of it focusing on Islamic feminism and its impact in Europe. This book contains exclusive interviews with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji, Naima El Bezaz, Nahed Selim [nl], Naema Tahir [nl] and Yasmine Allas.

On 26 September 2008 he released his new book Pius XII and the extermination of the Jews in the Dutch language. In this book he examines the position of Pacelli, the later Pius XII, towards Adolf Hitler’s seizure of power, the downfall of the Catholic Zentrumspartei, the Reichskonkordat between Nazi-Germany and the Vatican, the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge (‘With Burning Concern’), paganism, the national-socialist education programs, the ‘T4-program’ (the murder of physically and mentally handicapped persons), the invasion of Poland, Operation Barbarossa, the Jews in the Netherlands, priest-president Jozef Tiso of Slovakia, the Ustasha in Independent State of Croatia, the deportation of Jews from Rome, the Hungarian Holocaust, the help offered to war criminals, the resistance against Nazism, the alleged refusal of the Church to "give back Jewish" children who had been in hiding, the failures of the Allies, alleged antisemitism after the Holocaust, and the moral question of alleged guilt of the Church and the pope.

Verhofstadt has often collaborated with Dutch jurist and philosopher Paul Cliteur.




  • In Naam van God (2018), co-authored with Paul Cliteur
  • De geschiedenis van het liberalisme (2017)
  • Theorieën over rechtvaardigheid. De John Rawlslezingen (Ed.) (2017)
  • Salafisme versus democratie (2016)
  • Het Atheïstisch Woordenboek (2015), co-authored with Paul Cliteur
  • De Liberale Canon (2015)
  • Cesare Beccaria. 250 jaar over misdaden en straffen (2014)
  • 1914. Het vervloekte jaar (2014)
  • Atheïsme als basis voor de moraal (2013)
  • Pius XII. und die Vernichtung der Juden (2013)
  • A Plea for Individualism (2013)
  • In gesprek met Paul Cliteur. Een zoektocht naar harmonie (2012)
  • De open samenleving onder vuur (Ed.) (2012)
  • Media en ethiek (2012)
  • De Laatste Getuigen (2011), co-author Luckas Vander Taelen
  • In gesprek met Etienne Vermeersch. Een zoektocht naar waarheid (2011)
  • A moral and historical research into the moral responsibility of Pope Pius XII regarding the Final Solution to the Jewish Question (2010)
  • Het liberale denken van Thomas Paine (Ed). (2009)
  • John Stuart Mill. 150 jaar over vrijheid (Ed). (2009)
  • Pius XII en de vernietiging van de Joden (2008)
  • De derde feministische golf (2006)
  • Pleidooi voor individualisme (2004)
  • Het menselijk liberalisme (2002)
  • Het einde van het BRT-monopolie (1982)

See also[edit]


External links[edit]