Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Masterclass & lecture by Habermas in Heidelberg

On February 11-14, Jürgen Habermas will give a masterclass in international law at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg:

"Recht und Demokratie in der postnationalen Konstellation"
* Description [pdf]
* Programme [pdf]

As part of the masterclass, Habermas will give a lecture on:
„Der technokratische Sog. Eine zerrissene Union verharrt an der Schwelle zur Solidarität“

Monday, January 28, 2013

Erasmus Prize 2013 awarded to Habermas

The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation in Amsterdam has awarded the Erasmus Prize 2013 to Jürgen Habermas.

Here is the statement of the foundation:

"The theme of the Erasmus Prize this year is ‘the future of democracy’. For over 50 years, Jürgen Habermas has been one of the leading thinkers in the fields of sociology, philosophy and politics. Central in his thinking is democracy and the commitment of the citizens. He is sharp and critical in his political analysis, but at the same time optimistic about the future of a democratic Europe. He beliefs in the debate, in ratio as the source of politics and in the equality of man. With his humanistic views and commitment to the future of Europe he embodies the Erasmian values the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation holds so dear."

The Erasmus Prize is an annual award for a person who has made an exceptional contribution to culture, society or social science. The prize money is a sum of Euro 150.000.

Past award winners include: Karl Jaspers, Martin Buber, Claude Levi-Strauss, Vaclav Havel, Isaiah Berlin, Leszek Kolakowski, Adam Michnik, and Daniel C. Dennett.

The award ceremony will take place in the autumn of 2013.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Neues Buch: "Strukturwandel der Anerkennung"

Strukturwandel der Anerkennung
Paradoxien sozialer Integration in der Gegenwart

von Axel Honneth, Ophelia Lindemann & Stephan Voswinkel

(Campus Verlag, 2013)

303 S. 


Anerkennung ist ein Schlüsselbegriff unserer Zeit geworden. Gesellschaftliche Konflikte werden von den Beteiligten als Kämpfe um Anerkennung beschrieben. Unterdrückte und benachteiligte gesellschaftliche Gruppen fordern nicht nur materielle Besserstellung, sondern sie ringen auch um soziale Anerkennung. Indem sie das tun, beziehen sie sich zugleich auf eine normative Ordnung, die regelt, wofür in einer Gesellschaft Anerkennung zugewiesen wird oder wofür man mit Missachtung rechnen muss. Im Band wird die zentrale Gegenwartskategorie vor ihrem historischen Hintergrund erschlossen. Die Autoren beleuchten Veränderungen sozialer Anerkennungsbeziehungen in den Feldern Arbeit und Konsum, Recht, Medien und Familie und fragen nach der normativen Legitimation von Anerkennungsansprüchen. Ein Wandel wird sichtbar: Tradierte Anerkennungsformen geraten unter Druck, während um die Anerkennung neuer Ansprüche gerungen wird.


Stephan Voswinkel & Ophelia Lindemann

1. Verwilderungen des sozialen Konflikts [pdf]
Axel Honneth

2. Anerkennung – Verheißung und Zumutungen der Moderne
Thomas Welskopp

3. Vermessung der Anerkennung. Die Bearbeitung unsicherer Anerkennung in Organisationen
Stephan Voswinkel & Gabriele Wagner

4. Gekaufte Wertschätzung? Anerkennung durch Konsum
Stephan Voswinkel

5. Die Liebe und der häusliche Alltag. Überlegungen zu Anerkennungsstrukturen in Paarbeziehungen
Kai-Olaf Maiwald

6. Ein Modell legitimen Scheiterns. Der Kampf um Anerkennung als Opfer
Klaus Günther

7. Opfergeschichten. Paradoxien der Anerkennung zwischen Erzählen und Zuhören
Ophelia Lindemann

8. Wandel der Anerkennung [Abstract]
Axel Honneth & Titus Stahl

Friday, January 11, 2013

Henry S. Richardson reviews Rainer Forst

In "Ethics & International Affairs"(Winter 2012), Henry S. Richardson reviews "The Right to Justification: Elements of a Constructivist Theory of Justice" (Columbia University Press, 2011) by Rainer Forst:

Review: The Right to Justification

"The Right to Justification, a thoughtfully selected, tightly knit, and wide-ranging collection of Rainer Forst’s essays in moral and political theory, provides a useful introduction to the thought of one of the most exciting political philosophers working today. By lineage and position, Forst is heir to the Critical Theory school of Horkheimer and Adorno, and more recently of Jürgen Habermas and Axel Honneth. A highly systematic philosopher who has a unified moral and political theory, he is more firmly neo-Kantian than are most others of the Critical Theory school and more thoroughly engaged with work in the Anglo-American tradition.
For readers of this journal the last part of the book, devoted to human rights and transnational justice, would be of most interest. In part three, Forst explains how his unified theory provides a universal and indubitable basis for “constructing” human rights, by which he means both justifying them and generating their content. In addition, he stakes out what he calls a “transnational” position, according to which neither domestic justice (as “statists” urge) nor international justice (as “cosmopolitans” urge) has primacy; rather, each share the same moral foundation. From this foundation, which I come to shortly, he derives some definite and potentially radical implications for transnational distributive justice: Minimally, members of societies plagued by multiple types of domination have a legitimate claim on the various dominators for “the resources necessary to establish a (minimally) justified democratic order” (p. 263). Beyond that, at the “maximal” level he defends a dialogic analogue of Rawls’s Difference Principle: The transnational “basic structure” must be such that it survives the “(qualified) veto right of the worst off” (p. 265)."

Henry S. Richardson is Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. He is the author of "Democratic Autonomy: Public Reasoning about the Ends of Policy" (Oxford University Press, 2002) and co-editor (with Melissa Williams) of "Moral Universalism and Pluralism" (New York University Press, 2008).

See my post on Rainer Forst's book here. And my post on Rainer Forst here.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Capabilities Approach and Political Liberalism

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

"The Capabilities Approach and Political Liberalism"

[forthcoming in "The Capabilities Approach and Political Liberalism" (Columbia University Press, 2013) edited by Thom Brooks and Martha Nussbaum.]

"John Rawls argues that A Theory of Justice suffers from a “serious problem”: the problem of political stability. His theory failed to account for the reality that citizens are deeply divided by reasonable and incompatible religious, philosophical, and moral comprehensive doctrines. This fact of reasonable pluralism may pose a threat to political stability over time and requires a solution. Rawls proposes the idea of an overlapping consensus among incompatible comprehensive doctrines through the use of public reasons in his later Political Liberalism.
Rawls’s proposed solution to the problem of political stability has received much criticism. Some, such as Kurt Baier, Brian Barry, George Klosko, and Edward McClennen, argue that an overlapping consensus is relatively unnecessary. Rawls should have acknowledged existing resources in his account that might secure political stability over time without major changes to his original views about justice. Others, including Kent Greenawalt, Michael Sandel, Leif Wenar, and Iris Marion Young believe that an overlapping consensus is too fragile to secure political stability. Rawls correctly identifies a major problem for his original account, but he fails to provide a satisfactory solution.
I believe these objections rest on a mistake easily overlooked. Each objection claims that, for Rawls, the possibility of future political stability is to be guaranteed by an overlapping consensus alone. This perspective fails to recognize the central importance of the social minimum in securing political stability. There is, in fact, more resources to secure political stability than Rawls or his critics have recognized.
My discussion will begin with a brief explanation of why the problem of political stability raises an important challenge to Rawls’s views on justice and why he argues for an overlapping consensus as a solution to it. I will next consider the more important objections to Rawls’s solution and why these fail. I will argue that the social minimum might better support political stability if it is broadly understood in terms of the capabilities approach. This approach is compatible with Rawls’s political liberalism and it provides a more robust understanding of a just social minimum. Political stability does not rely upon an overlapping consensus alone—and it may be better secured where the capabilities approach plays a more central role. Therefore, Rawls does provide a illuminating solution to the problem of political stability that is more compelling if we incorporate the capabilities approach into political liberalism."

Thom Brooks is Reader in Law at Durham University. He is the author of "Hegel’s Political Philosophy: A Systematic Reading of the Philosophy of Right" (Edinburgh University Press, 2012).

See some of previous posts on Amartya Sen's and Martha Nussbaum's capabilities approach:
* "Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach" by Martha Nussbaum (2011)
* "Creating capabilities" - a lecture by Amartya Sen (video, 2010)
* "Creating capabilities" - a lecture by Martha Nussbaum (video, 2010)
* "Measuring Justice: Primary Goods and Capabilities" ed. by Harry Brighouse & Ingrid Robeyns (2010)

See also Ingrid Robeyns's entry on "The Capability Approach" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Hent de Vries's critique of Habermas on religion

Now available at the website of the Cogut Center for the Humanities at Brown University:

Hent de Vries -
"Global Religion and the Post-Secular Challenge: Habermas’s Recent Writings and the Case for Deep Pragmatism" [pdf]

The paper was presented at a symposium in New York City in October 2009 on Habermas's view on post-metaphysical thinking and religion. Habermas's comments on Hent de Vries's paper are published in his book "Nachmetaphysisches Denken II" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2012) pp. 178-179.

Hent de Vries is Professor at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of "Religion and Violence: Philosophical Perspectives from Kant to Derrida" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), and "Minimal Theologies: Critiques of Secular Reason in Theodor W. Adorno and Emmanuel Levinas" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), and he is the editor of "Religion: Beyond a Concept" (Fordham University Press, 2007).

Monday, January 07, 2013

Rainer Forst's "Toleration in Conflict" (now in English)

Toleration in Conflict
Past and Present

by Rainer Forst

(Cambridge University Press, January 2013)

528 pages



The concept of toleration plays a central role in pluralistic societies. It designates a stance which permits conflicts over beliefs and practices to persist while at the same time defusing them, because it is based on reasons for coexistence in conflict – that is, in continuing dissension. A critical examination of the concept makes clear, however, that its content and evaluation are profoundly contested matters and thus that the concept itself stands in conflict. For some, toleration was and is an expression of mutual respect in spite of far-reaching differences, for others, a condescending, potentially repressive attitude and practice. Rainer Forst analyses these conflicts by reconstructing the philosophical and political discourse of toleration since antiquity. He demonstrates the diversity of the justifications and practices of toleration from the Stoics and early Christians to the present day and develops a systematic theory which he tests in discussions of contemporary conflicts over toleration.


Introduction [pdf]

Part I. Between Power and Morality: The Historical Discourse of Toleration

1. Toleration: Concept and Conceptions
2. More Than a Prehistory: Antiquity and the Middle Age
3. Reconciliation, Schism, Peace: Humanism and the Reformation
4. Toleration and Sovereignty: Political and Individual
5. Natural Law, Toleration and Revolution
6. The Enlightenment – For and Against Toleration
7. Toleration in the Modern Era
8. Routes to Toleration

Part II. A Theory of Toleration:

9. The Justification of Toleration
10. The Finitude of Reason
11. The Virtue of Tolerance
12. The Tolerant Society.

The book was published in Germany in 2003: "Toleranz im Konflikt - Geschichte, Gehalt und Gegenwart eines umstrittenen Begriffs" (Suhrkamp Verlag).

Rainer Forst is Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at Goethe University in Frankfurt, and director of the research cluster on the “Formation of Normative Orders.” He is the author of "Contexts of Justice" (California University Press, 2002), "The Right to Justification. Elements of a Constructivist Theory of Justice" (Columbia University Press, 2011).

Forthcoming in 2013:
* "Justification and Critique: Towards a Critical Theory of Politics" (Polity Press)
* "Justice, Democracy and the Right to Justification: Rainer Forst in Dialogue" (Bloomsbury Academic)

See also by Rainer Forst:
* "Two Stories on Tolerance" (paper, 2010)
* "The Power of Tolerance" (video, 2008).
* "Pierre Bayle's Reflexive Theory of Toleration" (paper, 2009)
* "Tolerance Is a Fine Art" (interview, 2010)
* "Tolerance" (entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2012)
* "Tolerance and Democracy" (video, lecture 2012)

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Jeremy Waldron on Toleration, Dignity, Human Rights and Majority-decisions

Professor Jeremy Waldron has posted four new papers at SSRN:

"Toleration: Is There a Paradox?"

"Philosophers (Bernard Williams, for example) often talk of a paradox of toleration. They say that we can only be said to tolerate that which is acknowledged to be bad or wrong; but, thye continue, if something is acknowledged to be bad or wrong, the proper response is to suppress it or act against it. I think this appearance of paradox can very easily be dissolved. If something is bad or wrong, then the person who judges it so commits himself to avoiding it in his own actions and choices; but he does not by any logical implication of "bad" or "wrong," commit himself to acting coercively against it. Acting coercively is quite a distinctive response and it requires a myriad of reasons which are not generated by a simple moral condemnation. Practices of toleration flourish in the gap that this opens up. I also pursue a second line of argument which goes as follows: despite the philosophers' definitional announcement, it is not the case that we can only be said to tolerate that which we judge to be bad or wrong. The idea of toleration is much broader thnaa that. Philosophers tend to confine it stipulatively to the narrower sense in order to generate the alleged paradox. But since the paradox doesn't arisse anyway, there is no justification for the narrower definition."

"Is Dignity the Foundation of Human Rights?"

"The paper will consider the common claim that human rights are based on human dignity as a foundational value. I will make some criticisms of that idea, arguing instead that dignity is a status that comprises fundamental human rights rather than being a value that functions as a major premise of rights claims."

"Citizenship and Dignity"

"Theories of dignity have to navigate between two conceptions: the egalitarian idea of human dignity and the old idea of dignitas, connected with hierarchy, rank, and office. One possible way of bridging the gap between the two is to talk of the dignity of the citizen. In modern republics and democracies, the dignity of the citizen extends to a large sector of the population and connotes something about the general quality of the relation between the government and the governed. This chapter first explores Immanuel Kant’s account of the dignity of the citizen, and then it pursues the implications of the dignity of the citizen for modern society and modern theories of human dignity. Though the dignity of the citizen and human dignity are not the same concept, they are congruent in many respects and the former casts considerable light on the latter — in particular on the connection between dignity and responsibility and dignity and transparency in social and political relations."

"Five to Four: Why Majorities Rule on Courts"

"Courts, like the US Supreme Court, make important decisions about rights by voting and often the decision is determined by a bare majority. But the principle of majority-decision (MD) for courts has not been much reflected on. What justifies judges' reliance on MD? In democratic contexts, MD is usually defended either as (i) a way of reaching the objectively best decision or (ii) as a way of respecting the principle of political equality. Howerver, it is difficult to see how either of these arguments works for the judicial case. The only other argument is one of convenience, but that seems an odd basis for majoritarian authority on a court, given the momentousness of their decsions and given that the role of courts is to check popular majorities. The paper reflects on these and other matters and concludes that, at the very least, defenders of judicial authority should be more tentative in their denunciatiions of democratic majoritarianism."

Jeremy Waldron is University Professor at New York University School of Law.

See my post on his latest book "The Harm in Hate Speech" (Harvard University Press, 2012). The book is based on Jeremy Waldron's three 2009 Oliver Wendell Holmes Lectures. They were published in 2010 in "Harvard Law Review" [pdf].

Saturday, January 05, 2013

New Book: "Justice for Earthlings" by David Miller

Justice for Earthlings
Essays in Political Philosophy

by David Miller

(Cambridge University Press, January 2013)

264 pages


In the past few decades social changes have impacted how we understand justice, as societies become both more multicultural and more interconnected globally. Much philosophical thought, however, seems to proceed in isolation from these developments. While philosophers from Plato onwards have portrayed justice as an abstract, universal ideal, Miller argues that principles of justice are always rooted in particular social contexts, and connects these ideas to the changing conditions of human life. In this important contribution to political philosophy, it is argued that philosophers need to pay more attention to the way that people actually think about what's fair, and only defend principles that are feasible to apply in the real world. To understand equality of opportunity, for example, we must explore the cultural constraints that people face when presented with life choices. Justice for Earthlings also explains how national boundaries make justice at global level different from social justice.

Contents [preview]

Introduction [pdf]

1. Political Philosophy for Earthlings
2. Two Ways to Think About Justice [abstract]
3. Social Justice in Multicultural Societies [preview]
4. Liberalism, Equal Opportunities and Cultural Commitments
5. Equality of Opportunity and the Family
6. Justice and Boundaries [paper, pdf]
7. Social Justice versus Global Justice?
8. 'Are They my Poor?': The Problem of Altruism [abstract]
9. Taking Up the Slack? Responsibility and Justice in Situations of Partial Compliance
10. A Tale of Two Cities, or Political Philosophy as Lamentation

All the essays have been published previously.

David Miller is Professor of Political Theory at the University of Oxford. He is the author of "On Nationality" (Oxford University Press, 1995), "Principles of Social Justice" (Harvard University Press, 1999), and "National Responsibility and Global Justice" (Oxford University Press, 2007).

See also David Miller's paper "The Responsibility to Protect Human Rights" (pdf, 2007).

Friday, January 04, 2013

A call for a solution of the Suhrkamp conflict

A large number of authors have signed a call for a solution of the Suhrkamp conflict. The appeal is directed toward both sides of the conflict: Ulla Unseld-Berkéwicz and Hans Barlach.

"Eigentum verpflichtet"

"Wir, Autorinnen und Autoren, Übersetzerinnen und Übersetzer im Wissenschaftsprogramm des Suhrkamp Verlages, sind fassungslos angesichts der rechtlichen Vorgänge, die gegenwärtig den Fortbestand einer herausragenden Institution des literarischen Lebens, aber auch eines der weltweit renommiertesten Wissenschaftsverlage bedrohen.

Es erfüllt uns mit großer Sorge, dass die Existenz des wichtigsten Forums für kritische Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften in Deutschland vom Ausgang eines Rechtsstreits abhängig gemacht wird, in dem zwei Parteien ihre Konflikte mit Mitteln zu lösen versuchen, die dafür ungeeignet sind. Der Suhrkamp Verlag bietet seit 60 Jahren die Gewähr nicht nur für die engagierte Pflege der vom Nationalsozialismus nicht korrumpierten Traditionen deutschsprachiger Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaft, sondern auch für die mutige Verbreitung französischer und angelsächsischer Theorien im deutschen Sprachraum. Damit ist es dem Verlag und dessen kompetenten Mitarbeitern gelungen, eine kritische Diskussion über die Grenzen von eingespielten Denkschablonen hinweg in Gang zu bringen und durch Entscheidungen, die nicht allein der Logik der Gewinnmaximierung folgen, am Leben zu erhalten. Wir appellieren an die beiden Parteien, dieses einzigartige Gebilde nicht leichtfertig aufs Spiel zu setzen; das kulturelle Vermächtnis, das sie in den Händen halten, ist für das intellektuelle Leben in Deutschland viel zu wichtig, als dass es den Risiken eines fortgesetzten Rechtsstreits ausgeliefert werden dürfte. Wir begrüßen die Suche nach einem Vermittler, der für beide Seiten akzeptabel ist."

The appeal is signed by 160 authors and translators, including Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, Axel Honneth, Ulrich Beck, Seyla Benhabib, Rainer Forst, Robert Pippin, Nancy Fraser, Richard J. Bernstein, Thomas Nagel, Herbert Schnädelbach,and Raymond Geuss.

For more information: "Power Struggle Threatens to Destroy Germany’s Suhrkamp Verlag".

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

John Milbank's critique of Habermas and Kant

In "Avello Publishing Journal" (vol. 2 no. 1), Professor John Milbank has a critical article on Jürgen Habermas:

"What Lacks is Feeling: Hume versus Habermas and Kant"

The article is based on a paper, presented at a symposium in New York City in October 2009 on Habermas's view on post-

metaphysical thinking and religion. Habermas's comments on John Milbank's paper are published in his book "Nachmetaphysisches Denken II" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2012) pp. 176-178.

John Milbank is Professor of Religion, Politics and Ethics at the University of Nottingham, and he is Director of the Centre of Theology and Philosophy. He is the author of "Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason" (Wiley-Blackwell, 1990) and he is co-editor (with Simon Oliver) of "The Radical Orthodoxy Reader" (Routledge, 2009).