Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Just Freedom" - new book by Philip Pettit

Just Freedom
A Moral Compass for a Complex World

by Philip Pettit

(W.W. Norton, 2014)

288 pages


In this rigorous distillation of his political philosophy, Philip Pettit, author of the landmark work Republicanism, champions a simple standard for our most complex political judgments, offering a challenging ideal that nevertheless holds out a real prospect for social and democratic progress.
Whereas many thinkers define freedom as the absence of interference—we are left alone to do as we please—Pettit demands that in their basic life choices free persons should not even be subject to a power of interference on the part of others. This notion of freedom as non-domination offers a yardstick for gauging social and democratic progress and provides a simple, unifying standard for analyzing our most entangled political quandaries.
Pettit reaffirms the ideal, already present in the Roman Republic, of a free citizenry who enjoy equal status with one another, being individually protected by a law that they together control. After sketching a fresh history of freedom, he turns to the implications of the ideal for social, democratic, and international justice.

Contents [preview]


Part 1: The Idea of Freedom
1. The Past and Present of Freedom
2. Freedom with Depth
3. Freedom with Breath

Part 2: The Institutions of Freedom
4. Freedom and Justice
5. Freedom and Democracy
6. Freedom and Sovereignty

Appendix: An Overview of the Argument

Philip Pettit is Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University. He is the author of "Republicanism" (Oxford University Press, 1997) and "On the People's Terms. A Republican Theory and Model of Democracy" (Cambridge University Press, 2012). 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

An Extensive Biography of Jürgen Habermas

An extensive biography of Jürgen Habermas will be published by Suhrkamp Verlag for his 85th birthday on June 18, 2014. The biography - "Jürgen Habermas: Eine Biographie" - is written by Stefan Müller-Doohm, Professor Emeritus at Oldenburg University, who in 2003 published a biography of Theodor Adorno.

See the table of content here [pdf]

See the book cover here [pdf]

An English translation will be published by Polity Press.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Book on Hyperpluralism and Political Liberalism

The Democratic Horizon

Hyperpluralism and the Renewal of Political Liberalism

by Alessandro Ferrara

(Cambridge University Press, 2014)

243 pages


Alessandro Ferrara explains what he terms "the democratic horizon" - the idea that democracy is no longer simply one form of government among others, but is instead almost universally regarded as the only legitimate form of government, the horizon to which most of us look. Professor Ferrara reviews the challenges under which democracies must operate, focusing on hyperpluralism, and impresses a new twist onto the framework of political liberalism. He shows that distinguishing real democracies from imitations can be difficult, responding to this predicament by enriching readers' understanding of the spirit of democracy; clearing readers' views of pluralism from residues of ethnocentrism; and conceiving multiple versions of democratic culture, rooted in the diversity of civilizational contexts.

Contents [preview]

Introduction [pdf]

1. Reasons That Move the Imagination: Politics at Its Best
2. Democracy and Openness
3. Reflexive Pluralism and the Conjectural Turn
4. Hyperpluralism and the Multivariate Democratic Polity
5. Cuius Religio, Eius Res Publica: On Multiple Democracies
6. Multiculturalism: Negation or Completion of Liberalism?
7. Beyond the Nation: Governance and Deliberative Democracy
8. Truth, Justification and Political Liberalism


Alessandro Ferrara is Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Rome. He is the author of "Reflective Authenticity: Rethinking the Project of Modernity" (Routledge, 1998) and "The Force of the Example: Explorations in the Paradigm of Judgment" (Columbia University Press, 2008).

See also Ferrara's paper "Judging Democracy in the 21st Century: Crisis or Transformation?" (2013, pdf).

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Tributes to Dworkin in NYU Law Review

The current issue of New York University Law Review (vol. 89 no. 1, 2014) features tributes to the late Ronald Dworkin. 

See all the tributes to Dworkin here [pdf].

* Jeremy Waldron - "The Enrichment of Jurisprudence"

* Lewis A. Kornhauser - "Ronald M. Dworkin"

* Stephen Breyer - "Professor Dworkin...and the Judges"

* T. M. Scanlon - "Three Thoughts About Ronnie"

* Rebecca L. Brown - "Making Democracy Safe for Justice"

* Liam Murphy - "A Joy to Hear Him Speak"

* Robert B. Silvers - "On Ronald Dworkin"

* Thomas Nagel - "In Memoriam: Ronald M. Dworkin".

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Review of "The Critical Theory of Axel Honneth"

At "Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews" Professor Lambert Zuidervaart reviews "The Critical Theory of Axel Honneth" (Lexington Books, 2013) by Danielle Petherbridge:

Review of "The Critical Theory of Axel Honneth"

Lambert Zuidervaart is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He is the author of "Social Philosophy after Adorno" (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and co-editor of "Truth Matters: Knowledge, Politics, Ethics, Religion" (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014).

See also my post on Danielle Petherbridge (ed.) - "Axel Honneth: Critical Essays" (Brill, 2011).

Monday, April 07, 2014

Paper on Religion, Equality, and Public Reason

Professor Micah Schwartzman has posted a new paper at SSRN:

"Religion, Equality, and Public Reason"

A growing number of critics have asked whether singling out religion for special treatment is morally justifiable. In Religion Without God, Ronald Dworkin sides with those who reject the distinctiveness of religion. In this essay, I situate Dworkin’s argument within the larger debate. I then argue that his view is driven toward replacing a distinction between religious and secular commitments with one that turns on the difference between public and nonpublic values. The latter distinction is central to the idea of public reason. Although Dworkin resisted this idea, his arguments against the distinctiveness of religion lead him inexorably to some conception of it, suggesting the inevitability of a commitment to public reason for those who occupy a certain place in the debate about whether religion is special.

Micah Schwartzman is Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. 

See also his papers on 

* "Religion as a Legal Proxy" (2014)

* "What if Religion Isn't Special?" (2012).

Sunday, April 06, 2014

New Book: "Religion and Public Reason" by Junker-Kenny

Religion and Public Reason
A Comparison of the Positions of John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas and Paul Ricoeur

by Maureen Junker-Kenny

(De Gruyter, 2014)

322 pages


This book compares three approaches to public reason and to the public space accorded to religions: the liberal platform of an overlapping consensus proposed by John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas’s discourse ethical reformulation of Kant’s universalism and its realization in the public sphere, and the co-founding role which Paul Ricoeur attributes to the particular traditions that have shaped their cultures and the convictions of citizens.
The premises of their positions are analysed under four aspects: (1) the normative framework which determines the specific function of public reason; (2) their anthropologies and theories of action; (3) the dimensions of social life and its concretization in a democratic political framework; (4) the different views of religion that follow from these factors, including their understanding of the status of metaphysical and religious truth claims, and the role of religion as a practice and conviction in a pluralist society. Recent receptions and critiques in English and German are brought into conversation: philosophers and theologians discuss the scope of public reason, and the task of translation from faith traditions, as well as the role they might have in the diversity of world cultures for shaping a shared cosmopolitan horizon.

Contents [pdf]


1. Public Reason as a Neutral Mediator in Pluralist Democracies in John Rawl's Political Philosophy

2. Practical Reason in the Public Sphere: Jürgen Habermas's Rehabilitation of Religion as a Resource Within the Project of Modernity

3. Religions as Co-foundational of the Public Space in Paul Ricoeur's Hermeneutical Philosophy

Conclusion of the Comparison of the Three Positions

Maureen Junker-Kenny is Professor of Theology at Trinity College, Dublin. She is the author of "Habermas and Theology" (Bloomsbury, 2011).

Saturday, April 05, 2014

On the Habermas/Streeck Debate

The current issue of "Politische Vierteljahresschrift" (2014/1) features an article on the Habermas/Streeck debate on democracy in the EU:

Thomas Biebricher / Frieder Vogelmann:
"Die Zukunft Europas zwischen Demokratie und Kapitalismus" [pdf]

"The European Union's ongoing "crisis" has forcefully turned attention to the problematic relation between democracy and capitalism. We use the discussion between Jürgen Habermas and Wolfgang Streeck as our point of departure to demonstrate how the blind spots of the debate obstruct an analysis that is neither utopian nor resigned but tries to identify those conflicts in which citizens may at least hope to democratically unsettle both their national states and the European Union to keep them from merely complying to economies every need."

See also my posts on the Habermas/Steeck debate here and here.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Habermas at Princeton University on May 1

Jürgen Habermas will speak on “Transnationalization of Democracy: A European Experiment,” on May 1, 2014, at Princeton University. 

More information here.

Habermas will speak at Notherwestern University on May 2, and at Boston College Law School on May 7.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sadurski on Public Reason

Professor Wojciech Sadurski has posted a new paper on SSRN:

Defending Public Reason

"The ideal of public reason has been criticized on the basis that it is, under available interpretations of the ideal, either “too thin” or “too thick”, and also that it creates perverse incentives for insincerity in public life. In the first part of the paper I consider, and rebut, the core case against Public Reason, as advanced by Ronald Dworkin and Jeremy Waldron. Against the charge that it is a toothless ideal (that it is “too thin”) which would eliminate nearly nothing from public discourse, I argue that this objection is tenable only if we adopt an implausibly subjectivist conception of reasonableness used in tandem with the ideal of public reason. Against the charge that it would lead to a drastic erosion of public discourse (hence, that it is “too thick”), I argue that this disregards a distinction between generalized public discourse and advocacy of laws which are to actually become legislation, broadly speaking. I also argue that the stricture of public reason rests on the same type of restrictions on public arguments which we adopt as legitimate in many spheres of argument and justification anyway. In the second part of the paper I argue, against the argument that the ideal of public reason is detrimental to the principle of candour in public, that one should not confuse “strategic” choice of argument, triggered by the concern for efficiency of persuasion or by the principle of respect to the audience, with deception and insincerity."

Wojciech Sadurski is Challis Professor in Jurisprudence at the University of Sydney. He is the author of "Equality and Legitimacy" (Oxford University Press, 2008) and co-editor (with David Kinley and Kevin Walton) of "Human Rights: Old Problems, New Possibilities" (Edward Elgar, 2013).

See also Wojciech Sadurski's paper on "Legitimacy of Law in a Liberal State: The Contours of Public Reason" and Sadurski's article "Reason of State and Public Reason" (pdf) in Ratio Juris vol. 27. no. 1 (March 2014).

The Irish President on Democracy in EU

The President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins held the keynote speech at a seminar on "Democracy and Popular Legitimacy in the EU" , the Dublin European Institute, March 20, 2014:

"Keynote Address by Michael D. Higgins"


"The rise of Eurosceptic populists in contemporary Europe, with national identity as their rallying cry, points very plainly to European citizens’ perceptions and growing discontent with the current course of the EU. Ironically, this national-populist upsurge might well force us, who care for the future of European integration, to engage more resolutely in an exercise of normative clarification, and articulate more clearly the significance of the European project, in order to go further on the basis of a set of economic pluralist models that are responsive to the varying conditions of our peoples in social and demographic terms."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Habermas: "In favour of a strong Europe" – what does this mean?

An English translation of Jürgen Habermas's speech at a SPD meeting in Potsdam (February 2, 2014) is published in "Juncture" - the journal of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) in London:

"In favour of a strong Europe" - what does this mean?

It has been published in German in "Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik" 2014/3. See my post here.