Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Conference on Habermas' Legal Theory, May 26-27

An international conference on Jürgen Habermas' Legal Theory in "Between Facts and Norms", May 26 - 27, 2023, at the University of Buffalo:

"Critical Encounters with Habermas' Legal Theory"

Zoom access is available.

Keynote speaker: Seyla Benhabib.

Also: Isabelle Aubert, David Ingram, Matthew Specter, Cristina Lafont, William Scheuerman, John D. Abromeit, Phillip Hansen, Brian Caterino, Rurion Melo, Matthew Dimick, and Erin Pineda.

Further information here (location, schedule, abstracts).

Monday, May 22, 2023

Habermas's dissertation on Schelling (free access)

Jürgen Habermas's dissertation from 1954 is now available online:

Das Absolute und die Geschichte. Von der Zwiespältigkeit in Schellings Denken [Free access] (Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg)

Thanks to Hannes Kerber for the pointer!

See links to 165 free online texts by Jürgen Habermas at HabermasForum.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

New book: Free and Equal

Free and Equal

What Would a Fair Society Look Like?

by Daniel Chandler

(Penguin/Allen Lane, 2023)

416 pages


Imagine: you are designing a society, but you don't know who you'll be within it - rich or poor, man or woman, gay or straight. What would you want that society to look like? This is the revolutionary thought experiment proposed by the twentieth century's greatest political philosopher, John Rawls. As economist and philosopher Daniel Chandler argues in this hugely ambitious and exhilarating intervention, it is by rediscovering Rawls that we can find a way out of the escalating crises that are devastating our world today.

Taking Rawls's humane and egalitarian liberalism as his starting point, Chandler builds a careful and ultimately irresistible case for a progressive agenda that would fundamentally reshape our societies for the better. He shows how we can protect free speech and transcend the culture wars; get money out of politics; and create an economy where everyone has the chance to fulfil their potential, where prosperity is widely shared, and which operates within the limits of our finite planet. This is a book brimming with hope and possibility - a galvanising alternative to the cynicism that pervades our politics. 

Contents [Preview]


1. What's Fair

2. A New Social Contract

3. Rawls and His Critics

4. Freedom

5. Democracy

6. Equality of Opportunity

7. Shared Prosperity

8. Workplace Democracy


Daniel Chandler is an economist and philosopher based at the London School of Economics. An interview with Daniel Chandler at Literary Hub (May 2023). 


* Jonathan Wolff (Times Literary Supplement)

* Alan Ryan (Literary Review)

* Stuart Jeffries (The Guardian)

* Jonathan Derbyshire (Financial Times)

Saturday, May 20, 2023

New book: A Critical Theory of Global Justice

A Critical Theory of Global Justice.

The Frankfurt School and World Society 

by Malte Frøslee Ibsen

(Oxford University Press, 2023)

384 pages


The idea of a critical theory is famous across the world, yet it is today rarely practised as originally conceived by the Frankfurt School. The waning influence of critical theory in the contemporary academy may be due to its lack of engagement with global problems and the postcolonial condition. This book offers the first systematic treatment of the idea of a critical theory of world society, advancing the conversation between critical theory and postcolonial and ecological thought. Malte Frøslee Ibsen develops a reconstruction of the Frankfurt School tradition as four paradigms of critical theory, in original interpretations of the work of Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, Jürgen Habermas, and Axel Honneth, and considers how the global context has featured in their work and what might be salvaged for a critical theory of contemporary world society. Along the way, Ibsen advances new interpretations of the relationship between critical theory and justice, the idea of communicative freedom, and three conceptions of power in the Frankfurt School tradition. He further offers extended discussions of two emerging paradigms in the work of Amy Allen and Rainer Forst and argues that a critical theory of world society must combine and integrate a Kantian constructivist approach in a critique of global injustice, as Forst defends, with the reflexive check of a self-problematizing critique of its blind spots and taken-for-granted assumptions regarding the postcolonial condition, as defended by Allen. Finally, Ibsen rethinks the relationship between society and nature in critical theory, with far-reaching normative and methodological implications.

Contents [Preview]


Part I: Horkheimer

1. Max Horkheimer and the Original Paradigm of Critical Theory

2. Horkheimer's Original Paradigm and the Idea of a Critical Theory of World Society

Part II: Adorno

3. Theodor W. Adorno and the Negativist Paradigm of Critical Theory

4. Adorno's Negativist Paradigm and the Idea of a Critical Theory of World Society

Part III: Habermas

5. Jürgen Habermas and the Communicative Paradigm of Critical Theory

6. Habermas's Communicative Paradigm and the Idea of a Critical Theory of World Society

Part IV: Honneth

7. Axel Honneth and the Recognition Paradigm of Critical Theory

8. Honneth's Recognition Paradigm and the Idea of a Critical Theory of World Society

Part V: Allen and Forst

9. Amy Allen's Contextualist Paradigm of Critical Theory

10. Rainer Forst's Justification Paradigm of Critical Theory



"In this excellent book, Ibsen offers a critical reconstruction of the Frankfurt School tradition that is alert to its Eurocentric blindspots and aims to articulate the theoretical basis of a critical theory of global justice that is adequate to contemporary world society. Intellectually rich, philosophical acute and lucidly written, this is a work that should be read by all of those engaged with critical theory broadly conceived, whether within the Frankfurt School tradition or outside of it." - David Owen, Professor of Social and Political Philosophy, University of Southampton.

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Axel Honneth & Alexandra Schauer: What's critical about critical theory?

A discussion between Axel Honneth & Alexandra Schauer: What is critical about Critical Theory (The Frankfurt School)? Is Critical Theory still relevant to today's problems?

Audio: Was ist kritisch an der Kritischen Theorie? (Deutschlandsfunk Kultur, May 7, 2023; 47 minutes)

Presentation: Simone Miller.

Professor Axel Honneth is former director of the "Institut für Sozialforschung" in Frankfurt (2001-2018) . He has recently published "Der arbeitende Souverän: Eine normative Theorie der Arbeit" (Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2023). 

Dr. Alexandra Schauer is a research associate at the "Institut für Sozialforschung", Frankfurt. She is the author of "Mensch ohne Welt: Eine Soziologie spätmoderner Vergesellschaftung" (Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2023).

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Omri Boehm on radical universalism

Omri Boehm’s talk on “radical universalism” in Berlin, April 16, 2023:

Video: Radical universalism (You Tube; 2 hours)

* Carolin Emcke's introduction

* Omri Boehm’s talk (in English) (9:37 – 45:00) 

* Dialogue with Martin Saar & Carolin Emcke (45:44 – 2:05:00).

Omri Boehm is Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy at The New School for Social Research, New York. He is the author of “Radikaler Universalismus. Jenseits von Identität” (Propyläen Verlag, 2022).

Saturday, April 01, 2023

Forthcoming: Vernünftige Freiheit und öffentliche Vernunft

Forthcoming on Suhrkamp Verlag (March 2024):

Stefan Müller-Dohm, Smail Rapic & Tilo Wesche (eds.): 

Vernünftige Freiheit und öffentliche Vernunft

Beiträge zum Spätwerk von Jürgen Habermas

Die Texte dieses Bandes setzen sich mit dem monumentalen Versuch von Jürgen Habermas in "Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie" auseinander, in unkonventioneller Weise zweieinhalbtausend Jahre abendländischer Philosophie als Lernprozess zu rekonstruieren. Zentraler Diskussionspunkt ist dabei die Idee vernünftiger Freiheit, die als Leitfaden des Spätwerks entschlüsselt wird. Aus philosophischer, soziologischer, theologischer und rechtstheoretischer Perspektive wird diese Idee einer kritischen Prüfung unterzogen und das Anregungspotenzial von Habermas' Überlegungen für die weitere Forschung ausgelotet. Dieser bezieht in einer ausführlichen Replik Stellung zu den Beiträgen. 

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Symposium on "Ein neuer Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit"

In "Constellations" (vol. 30, no.1, March 2023):

Symposium on Jürgen Habermas's "Ein neuer Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit und die deliberative Politik" (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2022):

* Peter J. Verovšek - Authorship and individualization in the digital public sphere

* William E. Scheuerman - A not-very-new structural transformation of the public sphere

* Hubertus Buchstein - Being a master of metaphors

* Claudia Ritzi - The hidden structures of the digital public sphere

* Simone Chambers - Deliberative democracy and the digital public sphere: Asymmetrical fragmentation as a political not a technological problem

* Thorsten Thiel - A polarizing multiverse? Assessing Habermas’ digital update of his public sphere theory [open access]

* Cristina Lafont - A democracy, if we can keep it. Remarks on J. Habermas’ a new structural transformation of the public sphere

* Sebastian Sevignani - “Ideology and simultaneously more than mere ideology”: On Habermas’ reflections and hypotheses on a further structural transformation of the political public sphere

* Joshua Cohen &  Archon Fung - Democratic responsibility in the digital public sphere

An English translation of Habermas's book is scheduled to be out in November 2023 on Polity, translated by Ciaran Cronin.

Richard J. Bernstein in memoriam

Out now in "Constellations": 

Richard J. Bernstein (1932-2022) in memoriam

Jürgen Habermas - "For my friend Richard J. Bernstein" (open access)

Rainer Forst - "Democratic faith. A philosophical profile of Richard J. Bernstein" (open access)

Also contributions by Seyla Benhabib, Axel Honneth, Nancy Fraser, Joel Whitebook, María Pía Lara, Philip Kitcher, and Judith Friedlander. 

English translation of Habermas's "Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie"

The English translation of Jürgen Habermas's "Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie" will be published by Polity Books in three volumes.

The first volume is scheduled to be out in September/November 2023.

See the table of contents here.

Friday, March 24, 2023

New book on "Democratic Respect"

Democratic Respect

Populism, Resentment, and the Struggle for Recognition

by Christian F. Rostbøll

(Cambridge University Press, 2023)

234 pages


"Democratic Respect" is about how democracy should recognize the people. The debate over the meaning and value of populism is essentially a debate over this question. Populism promises to provide the people the recognition that they deserve. We should not understand populist resentment as blindly emotional but as a struggle for recognition based on moral experiences that can be explained by people’s beliefs. By adopting a participant attitude and associating populist resentment with alleged violations of democratic principles, we can discuss what citizens and governments owe one another in terms of recognition and respect. Not all struggles for recognition contribute to the deepening of democracy, and we must distinguish between different kinds of recognition in order to understand why populism is often a threat to what this book calls democratic respect. How democracy should recognize the people relates to debates over the meaning and value of democratic procedures, rights, majority rule, compromise, and public deliberation. The book disputes the widespread assumption that populism is essentially democratic and only against liberal constraints on majority rule. The shortcoming of populism is not that its understanding of democracy lacks substantive constraints, but that it fails to appreciate the procedural value of democracy.

The book includes discussions of Jürgen Habermas, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, and John Rawls.

Contents [pdf] [Preview]

Introduction: Recognition of the People [Excerpt, pdf]

1. Recognition and the Politics of Resentment

2. Respect, Esteem, and Solidarity

3. Rights and the Populist Claim for Recognition

4. Procedures, Outcomes, or Identification? 

5. Respecting Disagreement

6. Publicity and Correcting Democracy

Christian F. Rostbøll is Professor of Political Theory at University of Copenhagen. He is author of "Deliberative Freedom. Deliberative Democracy as Critical Theory" (SUNY Press, 2008).

20% discount on this book: Enter the code DCR2023 at www.cambridge.org/9781009340878.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Rawls's critique of welfare state capitalism

Catherine Audard has written a new paper on John Rawls and the fight against structural injustices:

"Addressing the rise of inequalities: How relevant is Rawls's critique of welfare state capitalism?" (open access)

(forthcoming in "Journal of Social Philosophy")

From the Introduction:

In this article, I examine Rawls's "political" critique of WSC [welfare state capitalism] and of its inability to fight structural injustices together with his proposal for POD [property-owning democracy] as a realistic prospect and a credible alternative to WSC. Section 2 describes the rise of inequalities of wealth and power as a source of structural injustices, and Rawls's insight as to why WSC is unable to fight them. Section 3 presents Rawls's alternative proposal of POD with its two ambitions, to protect, but also to emancipate citizens and guarantee their full rights. Section 4 asks whether POD can fully articulate these two aims and answer Sen's criticism (Sen, 1999) that this is still a "resourcist" solution that fails to fully emancipate citizens. Section 5 tentatively suggests that the justification for POD must rest on a new paradigm that redefines the nature of the Self in developmental terms (Audard, 2019), both capable and vulnerable over time (Nussbaum, 2006). The fight against inequalities of wealth through POD can then be justified as it aims at increasing agency and social mobility for all, not simply consumption and utility maximization, and, most importantly, as a basis for democratic citizenship and the full value of political liberties (Thomas, 2017b; White, 2015; White, 2016).

Catherine Audard is a Visiting Fellow Fellow at the Department of Philosophy of the London School of Economics. She is the author of "John Rawls" (Acumen Press, 2007).