Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A call for a more democratic Europe

A number of German researchers and members of the labour movement have signed a proclamation for a more democratic Europe:

"Ein Aufruf: Europa neu begründen!"

Among the supporters of the proclamation are Jürgen Habermas, Rudolf Hickel, Karl Georg Zinn, and Gustav Horn.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lectures from symposium on Liberal Democracy, Berlin (Videos)

Videos at "You Tube" of lectures from the international symposium on "Liberal Democracy in Hard Times: Transitions, Dilemmas, and Innovations" - a symposium at the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, March 22, 2012, to honour Professor Claus Offe and celebrate his prominent academic career.

Claus Offe (Berlin)

Panel I.
Transitions to democracy – conditions, modes, quality of outcomes

Micheline Ishay (Denver)

Stephen Holmes (New York)

Ivan Krastev (Sofia/Vienna)

Jacques Rupnik (Paris)

Panel II:
Crises and dilemmas of democracy – diagnoses and prospects

Ulrich K. Preuß (Berlin)

Jürgen Habermas (Frankfurt)

Philippe Schmitter (Florence)

Wolfgang Streeck (Cologne)

Panel III:
Innovations of democracy – new modes of forming collective decisions

Claus Offe (Berlin)

Jon Elster (New York/Paris)

Robert E. Goodin (Canberra)

Lea Ypi (London/Canberra)

From the Habermas conference in Wuppertal

Reports from the conference on "Habermas und der Historische Materialismus" at the University of Wuppertal, Germany, March 23 - 25, 2012:

Micha Brumlik - "Sich im Unbehaglichen einrichten"
(Die Tageszeitung, March 26, 2012)

Christian Surrey - "Habermas lockt hunderte Zuhörer an"
(Westdeutsche Zeitung, March 26, 2012)

Petra Kappe - "Da scheitert jeder Gedanke an Revolution"
(Der Westen, March 25, 2012)

Claudia Wiese - "Habermas und die Occupy-Bewegung" (mp3)
(WDR 5, March 26, 2012)


Michael Stallknecht - "Es ist ja doch egal, was Marx so wollte"
(Süddeutsche Zeitung, March 27, 2012)

Peter Leusch - "Kapitalismuskritik in der Diskussion"
(Deutschlandsfunk, March 29, 2012) [ + audio mp3]

"Wer definiert die Spielregeln in unserer Demokratie?"
(Blickfeld - Campus Zeitung, Wuppertal)

"Gegen die Verzweiflung anzudenken ist eine Verpflichtung"
(, April 13, 2012)

"Habermastagung an der BU" (video - 4 minutes)
(Engelzunge, Studentisches Videomagazin, April 14, 2012)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Essay by Axel Honneth on Social Criticism

SSRC's blog "Transformations of the Public Sphere" features an essay by Professor Axel Honneth:

"Idiosyncrasy as a Tool of Knowledge: Social Criticism in the Age of the Normalized Intellectual"

The essay has been published in Axel Honneth's "Pathologies of Reason. On the Legacy of Critical Theory" (Columbia University Press, 2009). It is a comment on Michael Walzer's preface to the second edition of his "The Company of Critics" (Basic Books, 2002).
Axel Honneth is Professor of Social Philosophy at the Goethe University Frankfurt and Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Paper on Dworkin and Rights, Harms, and Duties

Robin L. West (Georgetown University Law Center) has posted a paper on SSRN:

"Rights, Harms, and Duties: A Response to Justice for Hedgehogs"

(Published in "Boston University Law Review", vol. 90 no. 2 (April 2010)).

The author responds to the three jurisprudential positions that Ronald Dworkin discusses in his book - albeit briefly - so as to integrate them into his hedgehoggian program.
The first is that we should think of rights as political trumps, such that the individual liberty protected by the right, and hence the behavior protected by the right, trumps in importance and in effect, both in law and in popular imaginings, the various collective goals with which the right might be in conflict.
Second, we should think about our collective life, and the principles that should guide it, through the lens of the rights of individuals understood capaciously. Rights may be positive or negative, legal, constitutional, political, institutional, or moral, and might have either libertarian and regressive or egalitarian and redistributive consequences. Regardless, we should think about our collective life through the lens of individual rights rather than through the lens of the moral duty of legislators, state actors, lawmakers, or, simply, sovereigns, to make good law in the interest of the governed: the duty of lawmakers to exercise their lawmaking power in morally responsible or virtuous ways. Rights of citizens, not the moral duties of lawmakers, should guide our thinking in both politics and law.
Third, the political principles that should inform our law are those which require us collectively to respect the rights of individuals to decide for themselves on the content of a good life, and do not permit or require us to collectively make those decisions and impose them on individuals through law. To live well, we must each decide for ourselves what it is to live a good life. Government must protect the individual latitude we need to live well, and that includes refraining from dictating or legislating on the basis of any state-generated understanding of the content of the good life.

Robin L. West is a Professor of Law and Philosophy at Georgetown University Law Center, Washington DC. She is the author of "Normative Jurisprudence: An Introduction" (Cambridge University Press 2011).

See my previous post on Ronald Dworkin's "Justice for Hedgehogs":
- On Ronald Dworkin's book (2010)
- Papers on "Justice for Hedgehogs" (2010)

Symposium in Berlin on Liberal Democracy

"Liberal Democracy in Hard Times: Transitions, Dilemmas, and Innovations" is the theme of the international symposium that is hosted by the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin on March 22, 2012, to honour Professor Claus Offe and celebrate his prominent academic career.

Programme [pdf]:

Panel I.
Transitions to democracy – conditions, modes, quality of outcomes

Micheline Ishay (Denver)
Stephen Holmes (New York)
Ivan Krastev (Sofia/Vienna)
Jacques Rupnik (Paris)

Panel II:
Crises and dilemmas of democracy – diagnoses and prospects

Ulrich K. Preuß (Berlin)
Jürgen Habermas (Frankfurt)
Philippe Schmitter (Florence)
Wolfgang Streeck (Cologne)

Panel III:
Innovations of democracy – new modes of forming collective decisions

Claus Offe (Berlin)
Jon Elster (New York/Paris)
Robert E. Goodin (Canberra)
Lea Ypi (London/Canberra)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Paper on Deliberation and Representative Institutions

The latest issue of the The Journal of Political Philosophy (vol. 20 no. 1, 2012) is free online.

Stefan Rummers's article on "Staging Deliberation: The Role of Representative Institutions in the Deliberative Democratic Process" (pdf)

"The proper institutionalization of the ideal of deliberative democracy remains a contested issue. Whereas discourse theory conjures up the ideal of democracy as based on face-to-face interactions - modeled for instance in terms of an ideal speech situation which is inclusive, symmetrical and free from power - it is clear that this ideal cannot be realized in any straight-forward manner in the complex, large-scale and increasingly globalized societies of today. Consequently, alternative ways of realizing in practice the promise of a more radical and deliberative democracy have to be devised."

[....] "the present analysis of representative politics does not aim to discredit the use of fora or networks as such. It aims, rather, to provide a critical rejoinder to theorists who focus one-sidedly on fora and networks and downplay the role of representative institutions in their deliberative designs or dispense with them altogether."

Stefan Rummens is Associate Professor of Philosophy, Centre for Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy, University of Leuven, Belgium.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tributes to Frank I. Michelman

After 49 years of service to Harvard Law School, Professor Frank I. Michelman retires in order to devote more time to his writing.

In the Harvard Law Review (February 2012) several scholars contribute to a tribute honoring Frank Michelman (pdf):
- Judge Guido Calabresi
- Judge Dennis Davis
- Rosalind Dixon
- Dieter Grimm
- Patrick O. Gudridge
- Martha Minow
- Margaret Jane Radin.

On February 10-11, 2012, a symposium was held in honor of Frank I. Michelman at the Harvard Law School. See videos of the panels on "Comparative Constitutional Law" and "Law and Philosophy" here.

Six Lectures in Frankfurt on Normativity (videos)

Videos of six lectures held at the Goethe University Frankfurt December 2011 - February 2012 on "Normativity":

Klaus Günther -
"Die Normativität des Rechts"

Rainer Forst -
"Zu einer Kritik der rechtfertigenden Vernunft"

Axel Honneth -
"Die Normativität der Sittlichkeit. Institutionelle Grundlagen von Autonomie"

Martin Seel -
"Ein Dialog zwischen Aristoteles und Kant über die Grundlagen der Moral"

Matthias Lutz-Bachmann -
"Praktische Vernunft, Diskurs und Gewissen"

Christoph Menke -
"Gesetz und Freiheit. Überlegungen im Anschluss an Hegel"

See the videos here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Papers on "Law and Morality: The Perspective of Robert Alexy"

Free articles in the new issue of the journal "Ratio Juris" (March 2012):

Papers from the seminar "Law and Morality: The Perspective of Robert Alexy", held on November 12, 2010, at the Bologna University School of Law.

Robert Alexy -
"Law, Morality, and the Existence of Human Rights" [pdf]

George Pavlakos -
"Correctness and Cognitivism. Remarks on Robert Alexy's Argument from the Claim to Correctness" [pdf]

José Juan Moreso -
"Ways of Solving Conflicts of Constitutional Rights: Proportionalism and Specificationism" [pdf]

Dennis Patterson -
"Alexy on Necessity in Law and Morals" [pdf]

See my post on a recent book of essays on the jurisprudence of Robert Alexy: "Institutionalized Reason" (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Karl-Otto Apel turns 90 today

In the German weekly "Die Zeit" (March 15, 2012), Matthias Kettner congratulates Karl-Otto Apel on his 90th birthday:

"Die Sorge ums Argument"
Dem Philosophen Karl-Otto Apel zum 90. Geburtstag

Apels Impulse für die Entwicklung der Philosophie in Deutschland nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg sind unschätzbar: Als Pionier des linguistic turn hat er Heideggers Existenzialanalytik verarbeitet, die philosophische Hermeneutik von Dilthey bis Gadamer und den sprachspielanalytischen Ansatz des späten Wittgenstein, und hier ist ihm der amerikanische Pragmatismus, besonders der des Zeichentheoretikers C. S. Peirce, hilfreicher als der überkommene Idealismus Kants. [....] In seiner wichtigsten Aufsatzsammlung, Diskurs und Verantwortung, zieht Apel die Konsequenzen für die Politik- und Moralphilosophie. Er kritisiert Postmodernisten und Dekonstruktivisten, Rorty, Vattimo, Derrida und Lyotard, aber auch Jürgen Habermas, dem er »Verklärung der Lebenswelt« und die Banalisierung des Begründungsdenkens vorwirft: mithin eine Vernunftkritik, die die Macht der Vernunft unnötigerweise schwächer erscheinen lässt, als sie ist.

See Karl-Otto Apel's personal website here.

Matthias Kettner is Professor of Philosophy at Witten/Herdecke University, Germany. He is co-editor of "Zur Anwendung der Diskursethik in Politik, Recht und Wissenschaft" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 1992), "Transzendentalpragmatik: Ein Symposion für Karl-Otto Apel" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 1993), and "Reflexion und Verantwortung: Auseinandersetzungen mit Karl-Otto Apel" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2003).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New book on Rawls and Property-Owning Democracy

Property-Owning Democracy
Rawls and Beyond

Ed. by Martin O'Neill & Thad Williamson

(Wiley-Blackwell, March 2012)

336 pages


Property-Owning Democracy: Rawls and Beyond features a collection of original essays that represent the first extended treatment of political philosopher John Rawls' idea of a property-owning democracy.

Content [preview]

Foreword - Joshua Cohen & Joel Rogers

Introduction - Martin O'Neill & Thad Williamson

Part One: Property-Owning Democracy: Theoretical Foundations

1. Justice or Legitimacy, Barricades or Public Reason? - Simone Chambers
2. Property-Owning Democracy: A Short History - Ben Jackson
3. Public Justification and the Right to Private Property - Corey Brettschneider
4. Free (and Fair) Markets without Capitalism - Martin O'Neill
5. Property-Owning Democracy, Liberal Republicanism, and the Idea of an Egalitarian Ethos - Alan Thomas
6. Property-Owning Democracy and Republican Citizenship - Stuart White

Part Two: Interrogating Property-Owning Democracy: Work, Gender, Political Economy

7. Work, Ownership, and Productive Enfranchisement - Nien-he Hsieh
8. Care, Gender, and Property-Owning Democracy - Ingrid Robeyns
9. Nurturing the Sense of Justice - Waheed Hussain
10. Property-Owning Democracy or Economic Democracy? - David Schweickart

Part Three: Toward a Practical Politics of Property-Owning Democracy: Program and Politics

11. Realizing Property-Owning Democracy - Thad Williamson
12. The Empirical and Policy Linkage between Primary Goods, Human Capital, and Financial Capital - Sonia Sodha
13. The Pluralist Commonwealth and Property-Owning Democracy - Gar Alperovitz
14. Is Property-Owning Democracy a Politically Viable Aspiration? - Thad Williamson

Martin O'Neill is Lecturer in Moral and Political Philosophy in the Department of Politics at the University of York.

Thad Williamson is Associate Professor of Leadership Studies and Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law, University of Richmond.

See also Martin's O'Neill's paper:
"Liberty, Equality and Property-Owning Democracy" (2009, pdf)

And Martin O'Neill & Thad Williamson:
"Property-Owning Democracy and the Demands of Justice" (2009, pdf).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Habermas on the Fiscal Compact

In an article in the web magazine "Reset - Dialogues on Civilizations" (March 12, 2012), Jürgen Habermas discuss the Fiscal Compact:

"Bringing the Integration of Citizens into line with the Integration of States"

“More Europe” is the correct answer to a crisis which has brought to light a construction flaw of the European Monetary Union. The political decision-making capability required to offset the economic imbalances that have arisen in the euro zone is lacking. The necessary convergence among the national economic developments that are drifting apart can be brought about in the longer term only by cooperation within the framework of a democratically organized community of joint liability in which certain forms of redistribution across national borders are also accepted as legitimate. The Fiscal Compact represents a first step in this direction.

[.....] what Merkel and Sarkozy envisage is in essence an intergovernmental form of cooperation, that is, a politically inconspicuous step toward further integration of the states, not of the citizens. The heads of state of the seventeen euro countries assembled in the European Council are supposed to remain firmly in control. In pursuing this course, however, they would be equipped with competences of economic governance that annul the budgetary prerogative of the national parliaments. We would then have to reckon with a post-democratic empowerment of the executive on an unprecedented scale. The unavoidable protest of the parliaments stripped of their powers will at least reveal the gap in legitimation that can be closed only through democratic reform of the interplay among the EU bodies.

Essays on Robert Alexy's legal philosophy

Institutionalized Reason
The Jurisprudence of Robert Alexy

Ed. by Matthias Klatt

(Oxford University Press, 2012)

384 pages


This volume gathers leading figures from legal philosophy and constitutional theory to offer a critical examination of the work of Robert Alexy. The contributions explore the issues surrounding the complex relations between rights, law, and morality and reflect on Alexy's distinctive work on these issues.

The focus across the contributions is on Alexy's main pre-occupations - his anti-positivist views on the nature of law, his approach to the nature of legal reasoning, and his understanding of constitutional rights as legal principles. In an extended response to the contributions in the volume, Alexy develops his views on these central issues.

The contributions are based on papers presented at a symposium at Oxford University in September 2008.


1. Matthias Klatt - Robert Alexy's Philosophy of Law as System

Section 1: The Nature of Law

2. John Gardner - How Law Claims, What Law Claims [pdf]
3. Mark C. Murphy - Defect and Deviance in Natural Law Jurisprudence
4. Stanley L. Paulson - A 'Justified Normativity' Thesis in Hans Kelsen's Pure Theory of Law?

Section 2: The Nature of Constitutional Rights

5. Larry Alexander - Legal Objectivity and the Illusion of Legal Principles
6. T.R.S. Allan - Constitutional Rights and the Rule of Law
7. Matthias Jestaedt - The Doctrine of Balancing
8. Jan Henrik Klement - Common Law Thinking in German Jurisprudence
9. Mattias Kumm - Alexy's Theory of Constitutional Rights and the Problem of Judicial Review
10. Ralf Poscher - The Principles Theory
11. Julian Rivers - Constitutional Rights and Statutory Limitations

Section 3: The Nature of Legal Argumentation

12. Maeve Cooke - The Dual Character of Concepts and the Discourse Theory of Law
13. Cristina Lafont - Correctness and Legitimacy in the Discourse Theory of Law
14. Frederick Schauer - Balancing, Subsumption, and the Constraining Role of Legal Text

Section 4: Comments and Responses

15. Robert Alexy - Comments and Responses

Matthias Klatt is a Professor of Public Law at the University of Hamburg, Germany. He is the author of "Making the Law Explicit. The Normativity of Legal Argumentation" (Hart Publishing, 2008).

Monday, March 12, 2012

New paper on Rawls and mutual recognition

Thom Brooks (Newcastle) has posted a new paper at SSRN:

"Reciprocity as Mutual Recognition"

"For Rawls, there is an important difference between competing forms of regimes and what he calls a ‘property-owning democracy’ and ‘liberal socialism’. This difference includes that only the latter best guarantees principles of justice and satisfy the criterion of reciprocity. In this article, I will focus on the importance of reciprocity for this account and what it reveals about the citizens found in property-owning democracies and liberal socialist regimes. These regimes do not merely correctly recognize and uphold the importance of central principles of justice, but they also correctly recognize each other in an identity-forming way. These citizens mutually recognize one another as free and equal, but also they identify with others in a common bond of citizenship. Rawlsian justice is more than about principles and reciprocity, but it is also about mutual recognition and shared identity. This becomes clearer when we look to the reasons why Rawls favours some regimes over others."

Thom Brooks is a Reader in Political and Legal Philosophy at Newcastle University. He is the author of "Hegel’s Political Philosophy" (Edinburgh University Press, 2007) and the co-editor (with Fabian Freyenhagen) of "The Legacy of John Rawls" (Continuum, 2005). He runs a blog: "The Brooks Blog".

Intellectuals urge UN to stop bloodshed in Syria

In an open letter addressed to the members of the UN Security Council, a group of 43 intellectuals and former statesmen urge UN Security Council to revoke Assad’s licence to kill.

See the letter here.

"One year after the start of the Syrian uprising, we are saddened to see divisions in the UN Security Council prevent a unified and proactive international response to the crisis. Responsibility for the current bloodshed ultimately rests with those in Syria ordering, permitting, or themselves committing horrific crimes. However, splits among the international community have provided the Assad government with a licence to kill. This licence must be withdrawn. [.....]

We urge members of the Security Council to unite and pass a resolution by consensus:

1. Calling on the Syrian authorities to cease all unlawful attacks against its population immediately, remove abusive military and security forces from cities and inhabited areas, guarantee peaceful protests do not come under attack and release all political prisoners and those held under arbitrary arrest from the beginning of the uprising to the present day. All other actors should also immediately cease all use of violence.

2. Urging the Syrian government to facilitate the delivery of independent and impartial emergency aid, ensure the evacuation of injured people in places of conflict, and call for effective access for humanitarian organisations." [.....]

The letter is signed by 43 intellectuals and former statesmen, including Kwame Anthony Appiah, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Hans van den Broek, Umberto Eco, Jürgen Habermas, David Miliband, Peter Singer, and Richard von Weizsäcker.