Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Onora O'Neill's Essays on Global Justice

Justice across Boundaries
Whose Obligations?

by Onora O'Neill

(Cambridge University Press, 2016)


Who ought to do what, and for whom, if global justice is to progress? In this collection of essays on justice beyond borders, Onora O'Neill criticises theoretical approaches that concentrate on rights, yet ignore both the obligations that must be met to realise those rights, and the capacities needed by those who shoulder these obligations. She notes that states are profoundly anti-cosmopolitan institutions, and that even those committed to justice and universal rights often lack the competence and the will to secure them, let alone to secure them beyond their borders. She argues for a wider conception of global justice, in which obligations may be held either by states or by competent non-state actors, and in which borders themselves must meet standards of justice. This rich and wide-ranging collection will appeal to a broad array of academic researchers and advanced students of political philosophy, political theory, international relations and philosophy of law.

Contents [pdf]

Introduction [pdf]

Part I. Hunger across Boundaries
1. Lifeboat Earth [preview]
2. Rights, Obligations and World Hunger
3. Rights to Compensation [abstract]

Part II. Justifications across Boundaries
4. Justice and Boundaries
5. Ethical Reasoning and Ideological Pluralism [preview]
6. Bounded and Cosmopolitan Justice [preview]
7. Pluralism, Positivism and the Justification of Human Rights [abstract]

Part III. Action across Boundaries
8. From Edmund Burke to Twenty-First-Century Human Rights
9. From Statist to Global Conceptions of Justice
10. Global Justice: Whose Obligations? [abstract]
11. Agents of Justice [abstract]
12. The Dark Side of Human Rights [abstract]

Part IV. Health across Boundaries
13. Public Health or Clinical Ethics: Thinking beyond Borders [preview]
14. Broadening Bioethics: Clinical Ethics, Public Health and Global Health [lecture, pdf] [video]

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dietmat Hübner on Apel's & Habermas's discourse theory

A lecture by Professor Dietmar Hübner (University of Hannover) on Karl-Otto Apel's and Jürgen Habermas's discourse theory:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Essays on "Religion, Secularism, and Constitutional Democracy"

Religion, Secularism, and Constitutional Democracy

Ed. by Jean L. Cohen & Cécile Laborde

(Columbia University Press, 2016)

464 pages


Polarization between political religionists and militant secularists on both sides of the Atlantic is on the rise. Critically engaging with traditional secularism and religious accommodationism, this collection introduces a constitutional secularism that robustly meets contemporary challenges. It identifies which connections between religion and the state are compatible with the liberal, republican, and democratic principles of constitutional democracy and assesses the success of their implementation in the birthplace of political secularism: the United States and Western Europe.

Approaching this issue from philosophical, legal, historical, political, and sociological perspectives, the contributors wage a thorough defense of their project's theoretical and institutional legitimacy. Their work brings fresh insight to debates over the balance of human rights and religious freedom, the proper definition of a nonestablishment norm, and the relationship between sovereignty and legal pluralism. They discuss the genealogy of and tensions involving international legal rights to religious freedom, religious symbols in public spaces, religious arguments in public debates, the jurisdiction of religious authorities in personal law, and the dilemmas of religious accommodation in national constitutions and public policy when it violates international human rights agreements or liberal-democratic principles. If we profoundly rethink the concepts of religion and secularism, these thinkers argue, a principled adjudication of competing claims becomes possible.

Contents [preview]

Introduction - Jean L. Cohen

Part I: Freedom of Religion or Human Rights

1. Religious Freedom and the Fate of Secularism - Samuel Moyn
2. Religion: Ally, Threat, or Just Religion? [draft] - Anne Phillips
3. Regulating Religion Beyond Borders: The Case of FGM/C - Yasmine Ergas
4. Pluralism vs. Pluralism: Islam and Christianity in the European Court of Human Rights - Christian Joppke

Part II: Non-Establishments and Freedom of Religion

5. Rethinking Political Secularism and the American Model of Constitutional Dualism - Jean L. Cohen
6. Is European Secularism Secular Enough? [abstract] - Rajeev Bhargava
7. State-Religion Connections and Multicultural Citizenship - Tariq Modood
8. Breaching the Wall of Separation - Denis Lacorne
9. Transnational Nonestablishment (Redux) [2012-paper] - Claudia Haupt

Part III: Religion, Liberalism, and Democracy

10. Liberal Neutrality, Religion, and the Good - Cécile Laborde
11. Religious Arguments and Public Justification [dissertation] - Aurelia Bardon
12. Religious Truth and Democratic Freedom: A Critique of the Religious Discourse of Anti-Relativism [dissertation] - Carlo Invernizzi Accetti
13. Republicanism and Freedom of Religion in France - Michel Troper

Part IV: Sovereignty and Legal Pluralism in Constitutional Democracies

14. Sovereignty and Religious Norms in the Secular Constitutional State - Dieter Grimm
15. Religion and Minority Legal Orders - Maheila Malik
16. The Intersection of Civil and Religious Family Law in the U.S. Constitutional Order: A Mild Legal Pluralism - Linda C. McClain
17. Religion-Based Legal Pluralism and Human Rights in Europe - Alicia Cebada Romero

Conclusion: Is Religion Special? - Cécile Laborde

A book launch for “Religion, Secularism, & Constitutional Democracy” at Columbia University on February 1, with Jean Cohen, Courtney Bender, Mamadou Diouf, Jeremy Kessler,and Rosalind Morris. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Onora O'Neill's Essays on Kant

Constructing Authorities
Reason, Politics and Interpretation in Kant's Philosophy 

by Onora O'Neill

(Cambridge University Press, 2016)

262 pages


This collection of essays brings together the central lines of thought in Onora O'Neill's work on Kant's philosophy, developed over many years. Challenging the claim that Kant's attempt to provide a critique of reason fails because it collapses into a dogmatic argument from authority, O'Neill shows why Kant held that we must construct, rather than assume, the authority of reason, and how this can be done by ensuring that anything we offer as reasons can be followed by others, including others with whom we disagree. She argues that this constructivist view of reasoning is the clue to Kant's claims about knowledge, ethics and politics, as well as to his distinctive accounts of autonomy, the social contract, cosmopolitan justice and scriptural interpretation. Her essays are a distinctive and illuminating commentary on Kant's fundamental philosophical strategy and its implications, and will be a vital resource for scholars of Kant, ethics and philosophy of law.

Contents [pdf]

Introduction [pdf]

Part I. Authority in Reasoning
1. Vindicating Reason
2. Kant: Rationality as Practical Reason
3. Kant's Conception of Public Reason
4. Constructivism in Rawls and Kant
5. Changing Constructions

Part II. Authority, Autonomy and Public Reason
6. Autonomy: The Emperor's New Clothes
7. Self-legislation, Autonomy and the Form of Law
8. Autonomy and Public Reason in Kant, Habermas and Rawls

Part III. Authority in Politics
9. Orientation in Thinking: Geographical Problems, Political Solutions
10. Kant and the Social Contract Tradition
11. Historical Trends and Human Futures
12. Cosmopolitanism Then and Now

Part IV. Authority in Interpretation
13. Kant on Reason and Religion I: Reasoned Hope [pdf]
14. Kant on Reason and Religion II: Reason and Interpretation [pdf]

See also:
- Lecture by Onora O'Neill on "Making Public Reason" (2009)
- Two lectures by Onora O'Neill on Human Rights (2014)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cristina Lafont on Sovereignty and Human Rights

New paper by Cristina Lafont:

"Sovereignty and the International Protection of Human Rights" (pdf)
(To appear in The Journal of Political Philosophy)

An earlier version of the paper was presented at a conference on “Justification beyond the State” (December 2014) at Yale University. See the conference papers here.

See also Cristina Lafont's Spinoza Lecture Series on "Global Governance and Human Rights" (pdf, 2012).

Cristina Lafont is Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University, Evanston. She is the author of  "The Linguistic Turn in Hermeneutic Philosophy" (MIT Press, 1999) and co-editor (with Hauke Brunkhorst and Regina Kreide) of "Habermas Handbuch" (Metzler Verlag, 2009).

Monday, January 18, 2016

Wolfgang Streeck reviews Jürgen Habermas

Wolfgang Streeck has uploaded a review of Jürgen Habermas's "The Lure of Technocracy" (Polity Press, 2015):

"What about capitalism? Jürgen Habermas’s project of a European democracy" [pdf]
[To appear in European Political Science]

An excerpt

"In Habermas’s world, the only possible explanation for today’s escalating crisis of European integration is cognitive and moral deficits on the part of both governments and the governed, while the only solution are stronger ‘pro-European’ leaders, wherever they may come from (Germany?), ready to stick ‘more Europe’ to the reluctant masses. That this might end up producing even more anti-Europe – something that a growing number of observers, surely not all of them ‘nostalgic fools’ (....), have for some time seen coming – is never even considered. Sadly enough, years of debate over the evolving empirical observables in Europe and the theories needed to make sense of them have had no impact on a political imaginary which, after all, must conceive of itself as dedicated to principles of discursive rationality.
The blind in Habermas’s anti-national Europeanism are interestingly linked to his system-theoretically neutered concept of capitalism. Having at some point in the evolution of his social theory granted immunity to a ‘globalized’ capitalist economy by redefining the interests vested in it into ‘problems’ calling for technically correct ‘solutions’, Habermas can treat really-existing politics – the rough and tumble of local, regional, national collective interests, histories, languages, experiences, identities, hostilities, cultures, idiosyncrasies and passions – as non-substantial illegitimate impediments on the way to democracy as it should be: universalistic, dispassionate, global, deliberative, cooperative, and apparently without any need to override obstinate interests in the unlimited accumulation of capital by use of collectively mobilized power and legitimate force (that is, of the very state capacity that Habermas, for whatever reason, denies his European democracy). What remains at the end are normative prescriptions of rational-cum-moral cosmopolitan political conduct for which there is no real world out there that could live by them. One must be afraid that all a theory of this sort can do is move the theorist into a position of moral superiority in relation to a political reality that has no chance but being found guilty of failing to verify theoretical predictions that are in fact moral commands."

See also
- Jürgen Habermas's critique of Wolfgang Streeck: "Democracy or Capitalism?" (2013)
- Wolfgang Streeck's response: "Small State Nostalgia?" (2015).

Wolfgang Streeck  is Emeritus Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. His most recent book is "Buying Time" (Verso, 2014).

Monday, December 28, 2015

Globalization, Religion, and the Secular (video)

A video of the roundtable conversation between Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor and José Casanova on ”Globalization, Religion, and the Secular” at The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, Georgetown University, September 30, 2015:

Globalization, Religion, and the Secular (1 hour & 30 minutes)

See also Habermas's lecture at the Library of Congress, Washington DC, September 29, 2015.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

New Book: "The Original Position"

The Original Position 

Ed. by Timothy Hinton 

Cambridge University Press (2015)

292 pages


At the centre of John Rawls's political philosophy is one of the most influential thought experiments of the twentieth century: which principles of justice would a group of individuals choose to regulate their society if they were deprived of any information about themselves that might bias their choice? In this collection of new essays, leading political philosophers examine the ramifications and continued relevance of Rawls's idea. Their chapters explore topics including the place of the original position in rational choice theory, the similarities between Rawls's original position and Kant's categorical imperative, the differences between Rawls's model and Scanlon's contractualism, and the role of the original position in the argument between Rawls and other views in political philosophy, including utilitarianism, feminism, and radicalism. This accessible volume will be a valuable resource for undergraduates, as well as advanced students and scholars of philosophy, game theory, economics, and the social and political sciences.

Contents [pdf] [preview]

Introduction [pdf] - Timothy Hinton

1.   Justice as Fairness, Utilitarianism, and Mixed Conceptions [pdf] - David O. Brink
2.   Rational Choice and the Original Position [pdf] - Gerald Gaus & John Thrasher
3.   The Strains of Commitment - Jeremy Waldron
4.   Our Talents, our Histories, Ourselves - John Christman
5.   Rawls and Dworkin on Hypothetical Reasoning - Matthew Clayton
6.   Feminist Receptions of the Original Position [abstract] - Amy R. Baehr
7.   G. A. Cohen's Critique of the Original Position - David Estlund
8.   Liberals, Radicals, and the Original Position - Timothy Hinton
9.   The Original Position and Scanlon's Contractualism - Joshua Cohen
10. The "Kantian Roots" of the Original Position - Andrews Reath
11. Stability and the Original Position from Theory to Political Liberalism - Paul Weithman
12. The Original Position in The Law of Peoples - Gillian Brock

Timothy Hinton is Professor of Philosophy at North Carolina State University, Raleigh. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Peter Niesen on Discourse Ethics

Professor Peter Niesen (University of Hamburg) has uploaded a new paper on Habermas's discourse ethics:

"Discourse Ethics"

(Forthcoming in Cambridge History of Moral Philosophy ed. by Jens Timmermann & Sacha Golob (Cambridge University Press).

From the introduction:

Discourse ethics in both its generic and specific sense is perhaps best understood by focusing on its most influential formulation, that of Jürgen Habermas, in its revised version in and after Between Facts and Norms. In this work, Habermas continues and transforms the early modern program of “moral philosophy”, leading up to Kant's Metaphysics of Morals and comprising politics, natural law, morality and personal virtue. Habermas's discourse theory attempts to formulate a general account of various complementary normative orders, based on a single discourse principle (D). Practical normativity then is specified along two dimensions, along the lines of the types of reasoning employed (pragmatic, ethical, moral) and along the lines of the practical and institutional contexts in which these processes of reasoning take place (informal, legal, political). Discourse ethics in its core sense is then assigned the study of the moral use of reason in informal, non-coercive contexts of interaction. In what follows, I first delineate how the idea of a discourse theory is introduced in Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action (1). Then turn to the distinction between moral and ethical discourses (2) before commenting on the discourse principle (D) as neutral between various types of normativity (3). I finally turn to its instantiation in a theory of morality, i.e. as a discourse “ethics” in the narrow sense (4).

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Jonathan White on Habermas's "The Lure of Technocracy"

In "Boston Review" (December 1, 2015), Jonathan White reviews Jürgen Habermas's "The Lure of Technocracy" (Polity Press, 2014): 

The Riptide of Technocracy. Can there be a democratic EU?


"For Habermas, a straight choice between democracy and the EU must be refused. The losses incurred by renationalization—including losses to democracy itself—would simply be too great. “The national scope for action that has already been lost and is still shrinking can be made good only at the supranational level.” Only re-regulation “within an economic region of at least the size and importance of the Eurozone” can be effective in bringing market forces to heel. A more democratic order must proceed via, not in repudiation of, the interdependent condition in which Europe finds itself." (.....)

"Habermas consistently emphasizes national institutions as the legitimizing pillar of transnational politics. Repeatedly we are told that nation-state democracy is an achievement that, even if insufficient to the demands of the global economy, must not be sacrificed in the building of a transnational order. Popular hostility for the EU is cast as rightful recognition of this fact: “the fear of a superstate mainly betrays the desire to hold on to the democratic substance guaranteed by one’s own nation-state.” A significant passage in the book is devoted to a constitutional thought-experiment intended to clarify the proper balance between national and supranational sources of authority. With the concept of a “double sovereign,” he evokes a compound image of the EU in which the national and the supranational are mutually supporting. (......)"

"For Habermas and the wider Frankfurt School, political philosophy is not about imagining a better world from first principles: it must always proceed from the ideas and practices of the existing order. Rather than reflect on abstract ideals, it must look for the logic that is already present, however imperfectly, in existing institutions and explore how they may be reformed to better express it. It is a deliberately non-utopian approach and reflects a conscious rejection of grand theorizing. Indeed, for all the skepticism of Streeck and others, it may signal too great a concession to realism."

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Workshop in Berlin on "Global Constitutionalism"

The relationship between "Global Constitutionalism” and Critical Theory is the subject of an international workshop organized by Mattias Kumm, Rainer Forst and Seyla Benhabib on December 11 in Berlin. 

Has the globalization of public law, that claims to be guided by basic commitments to human rights, democracy andthe rule of law, helped to realize the emancipatory potential of the constitutionalist tradition? Or has constitutionalist rhetoric merely legitimated new or helped to cover up old forms of repression? Furthermore, what role is there for legal scholarship that is critically guided by basic constitutionalist principles? As a practice that draws on the internal reflexivity of the law, to what extent might global constitutionalism serve as a framework for a critical theory of law?

Program [pdf]:

"Legitimacy, Democracy and Justice: On the Reflexivity of Normative Orders” [draft]
by Rainer Forst (Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Commentators: Seyla Benhabib (Yale), Mattias Kumm (Berlin/New York)

"New Border and Citizenship Constellations: Implications for Law and Justice”
by Ayelet Shachar (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen)
Commentators: Christoph Möllers (Berlin), Peter Niesen (Hamburg)

"Democracy Under Siege – Global Constitutionalization as Structural Transformation of the Public 
Sphere: the European Case"
by Hauke Brunkhorst (University of Flensburg)
Commentators: Cristina Lafont (Evanston), Antje Wiener (Hamburg)

"On Political and Pathological Self-Determination"
by Alexander Somek (University of Vienna)
Commentators: Richard Bellamy (Florence), Christopher McCrudden (Belfast/Michigan)


A report from the workshop:
Maximilian Steinbeis & Robert Poll: Krise, Kritik und Globaler Konstitutionalismus, VerfBlog, 2015/12/18.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Habermas on the terrorist attacks in Paris

A short interview with Jürgen Habermas in "Le Monde" (November 22, 2015):

"Le djihadisme, une forme moderne de réaction au déracinement"

An English translation:

"The Paris Attack And Its Aftermath"
(Social Europe, November 26, 2015)


I’m confident that the French nation will set an example as it did after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. There’s no need here for repulsing a fictive danger such as the looming “subjection” to an alien culture. The danger is much more concrete. Civil society must beware of sacrificing individual liberty, tolerance towards the diversity of life-styles and readiness to take on the perspective of the other – all these democratic virtues of an open society – on the altar of an imaginary stage of security that we cannot reach anyway. 
Given the fortified Front National that’s easier said than done. But there are good reasons over and above exhortations. The most important is staring us in the face: prejudice, mistrust and seclusion of Islam, fear of it and a preventive fight against it, are also down to sheer projection. For jihadi fundamentalism expresses itself in religious codes but it is no religion. Under other circumstances it could use any other religious language, indeed any other ideology to hand, that promises redemptive justice. The world’s great religions have roots going back a long way. On the other hand, jihadism is a thoroughly modern form of reaction to uprooted ways of life. Of course, a prophylactic pointer to the background of failed social integration or faltering social modernisation does not absolve the perpetrators of their personal guilt.

A summary in German (dpa):

Der Frankfurter Philosoph Jürgen Habermas warnt davor, dass durch schärfe Sicherheitsmaßnahmen nach den Terroranschlägen in Paris Werte verloren gingen. "Die Zivilgesellschaft muss sich davor hüten, alle demokratischen Tugenden einer offenen Gesellschaft auf dem Altar der Sicherheit zu opfern", sagte er in einem am Sonntag veröffentlichten Interview der Tageszeitung "Le Monde". Dazu gehörten auch die Toleranz gegenüber anderen Lebensweisen und die Bereitschaft, die Perspektive des Anderen einzunehmen.
Mit Blick auf eine verbreitete Islamfeindlichkeit mahnte Habermas, der dschihadistische, also der auf einen Heiligen Krieg bezogene Fundamentalismus der Terroristen des Islamischen Staats (IS), benutze zwar eine religiöse Sprache, sei aber selbst keine Religion. Während die großen monotheistischen Religionen vor vielen Jahrhunderten entstanden seien, sei der Dschihadismus eine sehr viel jüngere Erscheinung. Der Frankfurter Philosoph und Soziologe sieht darin "eine absolut moderne Form der Reaktion auf Lebensbedingungen, die von Entwurzelung geprägt sind".
Für die barbarischen Taten der Terroristen gebe es keine Entschuldigung, sagte Habermas. Es müsse nun aber auch nach dem "Versagen der Integration in den sozialen Brandherden unserer Großstädte" gefragt werden.