In this book, Laura Valentini offers an in-depth critique of the two most prominent answers to this question, cosmopolitanism and statism, and develops a novel normative framework for addressing it. Central to this framework is the idea that, unlike duties of assistance - which bind us to help the needy - duties of justice place constraints on the ways we may legitimately coerce one another. Since coercion exists domestically as well as internationally, duties of justice apply to both realms. The forms of coercion characterizing these two realms, however, differ, and so the content of duties of justice varies across them. Valentini concludes that given the nature of existing international coercion, global justice requires more than statist assistance, yet less than full cosmopolitan equality.
Professor Christine Korsgaard will give the Royal Institute of Philosophy Annual Lecture on March 16 at the University College London.
Her lecture is called "On Having a Good" and it is free and open to the public. Ted Honderich will preside.
Abstract In recent work I have defended the idea that the good is relational, that is, that the notion of good-for someone is prior to the notion of good, and that the idea of a good that is not good for anyone is incoherent. In this lecture I take up some issues raised by that account of the good. I ask what kinds of things can have a good, in what sense groups can have a good, how goods can and cannot be aggregated, and how we draw the line between changes in someone's identity and improvements in his/her condition.
The 2012 Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize will be awarded to Professor Seyla Benhabib (Yale University). The prize is awarded annually in recognition of outstanding achievement in the fields of Theology, History or Philosophy, focusing on individuals whose work promotes tolerance among nations and religions. Seyla Benhabib will receive the prize at the University of Tübingen, Germany, on May 8, 2012.
The Leopold Lucas Prize honors the memory of the Jewish rabbi and scholar Dr. Leopold Lucas, murdered at Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943.
Past award winners are Karl Popper, Paul Ricœur, Michael Walzer, Michael Theunissen, Peter L. Berger, and Avishai Margalit.
An audio excerpt of her talk is available here (26 minutes).
Excerpts from a report from the event: As knowledge of history, culture, language, and religion can prepare students for political engagement, it can also help them cope with the struggles inherent to the human psyche. Experiments have shown the surprising degree to which people are prone to peer pressure, bullying, and deference to authority. Studies such as professor Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment illustrate how little it takes for us to quickly dehumanize our fellow man and see him as subordinate or as “the other.” [....] In closing, Nussbaum reiterated the idea that arts and humanities education (....) not only “shape people who are able to see other human beings as full people with thoughts and feelings,” but also build “nations that are able to overcome fear and suspicion in favor of sympathetic and well reasoned debate.”
Abstrabt: "Ob und in welchem Sinn muss eine immanent ansetzende Gesellschaftskritik eine bestimmte Art von sozialer Praxis voraussetzen, in der sie sich selbst verankert weiß und auf die sie orientierend Einfluss zu nehmen versucht? Zunächst wird dargelegt, worin die "Immanenz" einer Gesellschaftskritik besteht. Darunter wird verstanden, dass die Standards der Kritik nicht irgendwelchen externen, moralisch gerechtfertigten Normen entnommen werden. Die Normen einer immanent ansetzenden Gesellschaftskritik besitzen vielmehr über ihre moralische Gültigkeit hinaus auch soziale Geltung in der betreffenden Gesellschaft. In dieser Hinsicht verweist die Gesellschaftskritik auf eine soziale Praxis, die in Rollenerwartungen, Idealen und impliziten Verpflichtungen verankert ist. In einem zweiten Schritt wird gezeigt, dass Gesellschaftskritik auch die Deutungskämpfe umfasst, die um die angemessene Auslegung der bereits akzeptierten Normen geführt werden. Im dritten Schritt geht es dann schließlich um die schwierige Frage, ob die Gesellschaftskritik zwischen den entgegenstehenden, differierenden Auslegungen der Normen selbst Partei ergreifen kann: Gibt es ihrerseits interne Maßstäbe, die es uns erlauben, zwischen angemessenen und unangemessenen, zwischen besseren und schlechteren Deutungen der gesellschaftlich institutionalisierten Normen zu unterscheiden?"
See a recent interview from with Axel Honneth here (video + audio).
Abstract: The idea of “promoting democracy” is one that goes in and out of favor. With the advent of the so-called “Arab Spring,” the idea of promoting democracy abroad has come up for discussion once again. Yet, an important recent line of thinking about human rights, starting with John Rawls’s book The Law of Peoples, has held that there is not human right to democracy, and that nondemocratic states that respect human rights should be “beyond reproach” in the realm of international relations. This is, for obvious reasons, a controversial view, especially given the powerful and important arguments purporting to show that democracies do significantly better than nondemocracies in promoting internal peace and equality, and in engaging in peaceful international cooperation. Both proponents and opponents of the Rawlsian view of human rights have argued that the view implies that democracies may not “promote democracy” in nondemocratic societies. But, given that all parties to this dispute agree that democracy is necessary for justice, and given the important instrumental goods provided by democracy, the Rawlsian view has seemed deeply implausible to many. In this paper I blunt this challenge to the Rawlsian view by showing how, even if there is no human right to democracy, we may still rightfully promote democracy in a number of ways and cases. Showing this requires investigating what it might mean to “promote democracy,” and looking more carefully at when various methods of democracy promotion are appropriate than has been done by most political theorists working on human rights. When we look carefully, we can see that acceptable forms and instance of democracy promotion are compatible with the Rawlsian view of human rights, and that this view is therefore not vulnerable to the “instrumentalist” challenge. We also see how, if political philosophy is to be useful, it must be willing to be less abstract and to look closely at actual cases.
Axel Honneth: Critical Essays brings together a collection of critical interpretations on the work of Axel Honneth, from his earliest writings on philosophical anthropology, his reappraisal of critical theory and critique of post-structuralism, to the development and extension of the theory of recognition, his debate with Nancy Fraser and his most recent work on reification. The book also includes a comprehensive reply by Axel Honneth that not only addresses issues and concerns raised by his critics but also provides significant insights and clarifications into his project overall.
Introduction: Axel Honneth’s Project of Critical Theory - Danielle Petherbridge
1. Situating Axel Honneth in the Frankfurt School Tradition [pdf] - Joel Anderson 2. Reflective Critical Theory - Jean-Philippe Deranty 3. Recognition and the Dynamics of Intersubjectivity - Johanna Meehan 4. Social Solidarity and Intersubjective Recognition - Max Pensky 5. Recognition, Pluralism and the Expectation of Harmony - Bert van den Brink 6. Power, Recognition, and Care - Robert Sinnerbrink 7. The Theory of Recognition and Critique of Institutions - Emmanuel Renault 8. Recognition: A Theory of the Middle? - Carl-Göran Heidegren 9. The Social Dimension of Autonomy - Antti Kauppinen 10. First Things First: Redistribution, Recognition and Justification [Abstract] - Rainer Forst 11. Recognition, Culture and Economy: Honneth’s Debate with Fraser - Nicholas H. Smith 12. Social Pathologies as Second-Order Disorders - Christopher Zurn 13. The Nugget and the Tailings. Reification Reinterpreted in the Light of Recognition - Alessandro Ferrara 14. Rejoinder - Axel Honneth
Abstract: This paper critically examines the familiar claim that the view John Rawls sets out in his The Law of Peoples is not really a cosmopolitan view. It develops Rawls's view as a coherent and attractive liberal cosmopolitanism and suggests that cosmopolitans not drawn to it ought to come clean about the extent to which they have abandoned some key liberal, or at least Rawlsian liberal, commitments.
Abstract This article offers a critical examination of theories that emphasize the importance of governmental provision of self-esteem to citizens. Self-esteem is the feeling that one’s abilities and achievements are positively appraised by the surrounding society, and in some cases the legal system. Such theories are becoming fashionable, following the influence of scholars such as Axel Honneth, Nancy Fraser, and others. The author argues that such theories face major challenges, on two accounts. First, trying to provide universal self esteem would imply that people would be under a duty to positively appraise the achievements of any given person, and that might violate the free exercise of judgment. Second, the dominant theories of recognition also emphasize the importance of self-respect. Such theories usually understand self-respect as ‘the relation of a person to herself/himself, that concerns their intrinsic worth’. The ability to positively or negatively appraise the conducts/achievements of other people is an integral part of this ‘intrinsic worth’. The attempt to provide universal positive appraisals (and therefore self-esteem) means therefore that a simultaneous achievement of self respect and self esteem is not possible as a social goal. Recognition theories face therefore not only an external critique by libertarian and (many) liberal approaches, but also internal problems of consistency between different parts of their own theories.
Nahshon Perez is a visiting assistant professor at the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies, Boston University.
Excerpts In Elements of Moral Cognition, John Mikhail clarifies and attempts to vindicate John Rawls' linguistic analogy, according to which moral cognition is usefully modeled on Chomsky's account of linguistic cognition. In the first part of the book, Mikhail explicates key aspects of Chomsky's theory of language, shows how these have analogues in moral theory, and demonstrates Rawls' awareness of the isomorphism via key quotes from early works. In drawing out these analogies with linguistics, Mikhail suggests a new framework for moral theorizing. In the second part, Mikhail attempts to ground the empirical significance of this new framework by showing how it allows for a provisional description of "the mature individual's system of moral knowledge," and thereby explains a number of commonsense moral intuitions. In the third part, Mikhail shows how the new framework allows for forceful responses to some early criticisms of Rawls' linguistic analogy.
This book is both enlightening and frustrating. It is incredibly well-informed and, consequently, incredibly dense. Press reviews for the book -- from Noam Chomsky, Gilbert Harman, and Frans De Waal -- accurately note the conceptual depth, careful execution, and great erudition with which Mikhail's central claims are developed. The text includes twenty-three epigraphs and only ten chapters. I worry that many readers will find the book overwhelming and tedious, wonder whether defending an analogy Rawls drew early in his career is worth all the effort, and abandon it midway. To abandon or ignore this book on that basis would be a mistake. (....)
I look forward to seeing his future work on the topic. Despite its limitations, readers will learn a lot from Elements of Moral Cognition.
See my previous post on John Mikhail's book here (with links to some of his papers).
Excerpt: Q: Was macht heute noch die Kritische Theorie aus?
A: Aus meiner Sicht ist das die Überzeugung, dass die Vernunft, auf die wir uns stützen, wenn wir gesellschaftliche Verhältnisse kritisieren, diesen bereits immanent sein muss – als ein Versprechen! (....) - das heißt ja nichts anderes, als dass es in unseren gesellschaftlichen Verhältnissen Ansprüche und Ziele gibt, die über die Gegenwart hinausweisen.
See also my posts on the Honneth/Sloterdijk debate in 2009 here and here.
The essays in this volume question whether democratic politics requires discussion of truth and, if so, how truth should matter to democratic politics. While individual essays approach the subject from different angles, the volume as a whole suggests that the character of our politics depends in part on what kinds of truthful inquiries it promotes and how it deals with various kinds of disputes about truth.
Political theorists Jeremy Elkins and Andrew Norris observe that American political culture is deeply ambivalent about truth. On the one hand, voices on both the left and right make confident appeals to the truth of claims about the status of the market in public life and the role of scientific evidence and argument in public life, human rights, and even religion. On the other hand, there is considerable anxiety that such appeals threaten individualism and political plurality. This anxiety, Elkins and Norris contend, has perhaps been greatest in the humanities and in political theory, where many have responded by either rejecting or neglecting the whole topic of truth.
1. Concerning Practices of Truth - Jeremy Elkins 2. Truth and Politics [Excerpt] - Linda M. G. Zerilli 3. Truth and Disagreement - Robert Post 4. Speaking Power to Truth - Wendy Brown
Part II: Authority and Justification
5. Cynicism, Skepticism, and the Politics of Truth [Excerpt] - Andrew Norris 6. Democracy as a Space of Reasons [pdf] - Michael P. Lynch 7. Truth and Democracy: Theme and Variations - William A. Galston 8. On Truth and Democracy, Hermeneutic Responses - David Couzens Hoy 9. Too Soon for the Counterreformation - Jane Bennett 10. Response to Norris, Lynch, and Galston - Martin Jay
Part III: Decision and Deliberation 11. Democracy and the Love of Truth - Bernard Yack 12. J. S. Mill on Truth, Liberty, and Democracy [Abstract] - Frederick Rosen 13. Can This Marriage Be Saved? The Relationship of Democracy and Truth - Rogers M. Smith 14. Democratic Politics and the Lovers of Truth - Nadia Urbinati
Part IV.: Truth and Public Reasons 15. Truth and Public Reason [First page] - Joshua Cohen 16. The Truth in Political Liberation [pdf] - David Estlund 17. Truth at the Door of Public Reason: Response to Cohen and Estlund - Josiah Ober 18. Just Gimme Some Truth: A Pragmatist Proposal - Robert Westbrook
Jeremy Elkins is Professor of Political Science at Bryn Mawr College.
Andrew Norris is Associate Professor of Political Science and Affiliated Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Excerpts: "Mehr Europa" ist die richtige Antwort auf eine Staatsschuldenkrise, die durch die vorangehende Bankenkrise ausgelöst worden ist. Die Krise hat das Verdienst, einen Konstruktionsfehler der Europäischen Währungs-gemeinschaft ans Licht gebracht zu haben – die fehlende politische Handlungsfähigkeit, die das Auseinanderdriften der nationalen Wirtschaftsentwicklungen hätte verhindern können. Die ökonomischen Ungleichgewichte können mittelfristig nur durch eine ausgleichende Koordinierung der länderspezifischen Steuer- und Wirtschaftspolitiken beseitigt werden. Der jetzt beschlossene Fiskalpakt ist ein Schritt in die richtige Richtung.
(....) ich stelle nur fest, dass wir als Nationalstaat alleine nicht mehr zurechtkommen. Auch Bündnisse auf der Grundlage internationaler Verträge reichen für die Lösung der jetzt anstehenden Probleme nicht mehr aus. Das zeigt sich gerade daran, dass sich die Staaten der Europäischen Währungsgemeinschaft aus dem Würgegriff der Finanzmärkte nur durch eine gemeinsame Politik befreien können. Auch die längst überfällige Regulierung des Bankensektors kommt nicht zustande, weil die Weltgesellschaft ökonomisch zusammengewachsen ist, während sie politisch in Staaten, die ihren nationalen Interessen folgen, zersplittert bleibt.