Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Onora O'Neill lecture on public reason

A lecture by professor Onora O'Neill on public reason is available as a podcast on the website of University of Oslo:

Making Reason Public:
Necessary Conditions for Dialogue and Discourse
[55 minutes]

The lecture was held on September 2, 2009, at "The Centre for Study of the Mind in Nature",
University of Oslo, Norway.

In her lecture, Onora O'Neill contrasts the leading conceptions of public reason of the late 20th century - Rawls and Habermas - with Kant's conception. She argues that Kant's "modal" conception of public reason - based on a distinction between private reasoning (addressing a limited audience) and public reasoning (addressing all citizens) - can give us a better understanding of the difference between quasi-communication and effective communication in modern democracies.

Professor Onora O'Neill is professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge and a cross bench member of the British House of Lords. She was formerly president of the British Academy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Symposium: Rawlsian Liberalism in Context(s)

Symposium: Rawlsian Liberalism in Context(s)
Engaging the Philosophical Foundations of Politics and Public Policy
at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Friday, February 26

David Reidy, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Tennessee
"John Rawls and 20th Century Analytic Philosophy"

Saturday, February 27

Paul Weithman, Professor of Philosophy, Notre Dame University
"John Rawls and Political Theology/Theological Ethics"

Jerry Gaus, James E. Rogers Professor of Philosophy, University of Arizona
"John Rawls and Political Economy/Economics In The 20th Century"

Richard Miller, Professor of Philosophy, Cornell University
"John Rawls and American Foreign Policy/International Relations"

Robert Talisse, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Political Science, Vanderbilt University
"John Rawls and American Pragmatism(s)"

Further information here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New collection of essays by Thomas Nagel

Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament

by Thomas Nagel

(Oxford University Press, 2010)

184 pages


This volume collects recent essays and reviews by Thomas Nagel in three subject areas. The first section, including the title essay, is concerned with religious belief and some of the philosophical questions connected with it, such as the relation between religion and evolutionary theory, the question of why there is something rather than nothing, and the significance for human life of our place in the cosmos. It includes a defense of the relevance of religion to science education. The second section concerns the interpretation of liberal political theory, especially in an international context. A substantial essay argues that the principles of distributive justice that apply within individual nation-states do not apply to the world as a whole. The third section discusses the distinctive contributions of four philosophers to our understanding of what it is to be human - the form of human consciousness and the source of human values.


Part I. Religion
1: Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament [paper]
2: Dawkins and Atheism
3: Why Is There Anything?
4: Nietzsche's Self-Creation
5: Public Education and Intelligent Design

Part II. Politics
6: The Problem of Global Justice
7: The Limits of International Law
8: Appiah's Rooted Cosmopolitanism
9: Sandel and the Paradox of Liberalism
10: MacKinnon on Sexual Domination

Part III. Humanity
11: Williams: The Value of Truth
12: Williams: Humanity and Philosophy
13: Wiggins on Human Solidarity
14: O'Shaughnessy on the Stream of Consciousness
15: Sartre: The Look and the Problem of Other Minds

The first essay has not been published before.

Thomas Nagel is University Professor, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Law at New York University. Among his books are The View from Nowhere (Oxford University Press, 1986), and Equality and Partiality (Oxford University Press, 1991).

Last month in Times Literary Supplement, Thomas Nagel recommended a book by the "intelligent design" apologist Stephen Meyer. See some reactions here, here and here. And Nagel's reply here.

Read David Gordon's review of Nagel's new book here at "The Mises Review".

Monday, December 21, 2009

Habermas's laudatio to Michael Tomasello

The American developmental psychologist Michael Tomasello received the Hegel Prize 2009, December 16, 2009, in Stuttgart, Germany.

The speeches are now available online:

1. Lord Mayor of Stuttgart Wolfgang Schuster: Text - Audio

2. Professor Jürgen Habermas: Text - Audio

3. Professor Michael Tomasello: Text - Audio

Excerpt from Tomasello's acceptance speech:
"And so the large scale and class-based stratification of modern societies, along with the fact that many different types of people from many different ethnic groups are all thrown together into one pot, creates new challenges for human cooperation. The question from the point of view of evolution is: will our evolved capacities for cooperation in small groups scale up successfully to large-scale modern civilization? The only answer from the point of view of evolution at the moment is: so far, so good. We are still here. But of course we are only a few nuclear bombs or a few more decades of rampant environmental degradation away from not being here. It is possible that our skills and motivations for cooperation in small homogeneous groups will not sustain cooperation in the large-scale complexities of the modern world. But there are many signs that we will be able to adjust. New prosocial norms for being careful with our environment and for recognizing the dignity and value of all peoples from all ethnic groups seem to be spreading in influence, not receding, and we are continually finding new ways for creating more cooperative and open arrangements for communication and coalition-building in large-scale societies, as Professor Habermas has argued. These new social norms and new forms of communication – in combination with our inherent prosocial tendencies - can only help us to overcome the difficulties of cooperating in large, heterogeneous groups and across societies. There is plenty of reason for both concern and optimism. Scientific research and evolutionary analyses do not, indeed cannot ever, provide direct answers for societal problems - this is clear. But they often provide useful information or new perspectives on things that can help us to make better decisions and to create better societal arrangements for fostering the kinds of cooperative and moral attitudes that will hopefully sustain us and help us to thrive in an uncertain future."

See my previous post on the event here.

Rüdiger Safranski on the Sloterdijk/Honneth debate

From the German radio station "Deutschlandsfunk" (December 20, 2009):

Interview with the German philosopher Rüdiger Safranski - "Zeiten-Wende im Diskurs? Die neue Sloterdijk-Debatte" [Audio, 23 minutes]

Links to the Sloterdijk/Honneth debate here.

Since 2002, Rüdiger Safranski hosted along with Peter Sloterdijk, the show "Philosophical Quartet" on the German television station ZDF.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Charles Beitz on "The Idea of Human Rights"

The Idea of Human Rights

by Charles R. Beitz

(Oxford University Press, 2009)

256 pages


The international doctrine of human rights is one of the most ambitious parts of the settlement of World War II. Since then, the language of human rights has become the common language of social criticism in global political life. This book is a theoretical examination of the central idea of that language, the idea of a human right. In contrast to more conventional philosophical studies, the author takes a practical approach, looking at the history and political practice of human rights for guidance in understanding the central idea. The author presents a model of human rights as matters of international concern whose violation by governments can justify international protective and restorative action ranging from intervention to assistance. He proposes a schema for justifying human rights and applies it to several controversial cases--rights against poverty, rights to democracy, and the human rights of women. Throughout, the book attends to some main reasons why people are skeptical about human rights, including the fear that human rights will be used by strong powers to advance their national interests. The book concludes by observing that contemporary human rights practice is vulnerable to several pathologies and argues the need for international collaboration to avoid them.


1. Introduction
2. The Practice
3. Naturalistic Theories
4. Agreement Theories
5. A Fresh Start
6. Normativity
7. International Concern
8. Conclusion

Charles R. Beitz is Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics at Princeton University and the Editor of Philosophy & Public Affairs.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Forthcoming books from Suhrkamp Verlag

From Suhrkamp Verlag's spring/summer 2010 catalog:

Jan-Werner Müller - Verfassungspatriotismus

Niklas Luhmann - Politische Soziologie

Luc Boltanski - Soziologie und Sozialkritik

Axel Honneth - Das Ich im Wir: Studien zur Anerkennungstheorie

Hans Blumenberg - Theorie der Lebenswelt

John Rawls - Über Sünde, Glaube und Religion

Rainer Forst - Kritik der Rechtfertigungsverhältnisse

Thomas Bedorf & Kurt Röttgers
(eds.) - Das Politische und
die Politik

Günter Frankenberg
- Staatstechnik

Christoph Broszies & Henning Hahn (eds.) - Globale Gerechtig-

Peter Sloterdijk
- Wissenschaft als Übung

Hans-Georg Gadamer - Über die Verborgenheit der Gesundheit

Michel Foucault - Der Mut zur Wahrheit

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Honneth talks about his controversy with Sloterdijk

In "Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger", December 17, 2009:

An interview with professor Axel Honneth on his controversy with Peter Sloterdijk.

"Ich bezweifle, dass Peter Sloterdijk mit seinen verqueren Überlegungen irgendwelche politische Absichten verfolgt hat - es hieße, seinen politischen Realitätssinn und Pragmatismus zu überschätzen, wollte man ihm derartige Strategien unterstellen. Ich glaube überhaupt nicht, dass er in politischen Lagerkategorien denkt, ihn interessiert der Überraschungs-, ja der Überrumpelungswert von Diagnosen, mögen sie schlechter oder besser begründet sein."

Links to the Sloterdijk/Honneth debate here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Axel Honneth honors Amitai Etzioni

The American sociologist Amitai Etzioni received the Meister Eckhart Prize 2009 at the University of Cologne, December 9, 2009.

Professor Axel Honneth, Frankfurt University, gave the Laudatio. Read it here.

Amitai Etzioni spoke on "Diversity and Unity in the Development of Identity".

See Markus Schwering's report on the event is Frankfurter Rundschau.

Amitai Etzioni is Director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, George Washington University. His latest books are "From Empire to Community" (Palgrave, 2004) and "Security First: For a Muscular, Moral Foreign Policy" (Yale University Press, 2007). Etzioni was born in Cologne in 1929.

The Meister Eckhart Prize goes to individuals whose work “addresses existential questions of personal, social and intercultural identity and who through their work stimulate broad public and international discourse”. Past award winners are Richard Rorty, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Ernest Tugendhat, and Amartya Sen.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Moshe Halbertal reviews Amartya Sen's book on justice

Professor Moshe Halbertal reviews Amartya Sen's "The Idea of Justice" (Harvard University Press, 2009) in The New Republic:

"The Ideal and the Real"


"Following Sen, when we examine different grand theories we realize that each of them has a point, that there is an aspect - but no more than an aspect - of their respective claims that is convincing. Grand theories become perverse when they postulate themselves as exclusive, when they wish to solve all the complex issues with one decisive and final principle. Rights-based libertarians have a point, but their complete disregard of outcomes makes their position flawed. Utilitarians make an important contribution to the conversation, but their exclusive interest in outcomes is wrong. Egalitarians are deeply attractive for the principle that moves them, but their principle cannot withstand critical scrutiny when it is the only principle of justice there is." (.....)

"Sen’s range is amazing. His intimacy with the Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim cultures of India, which is beautifully woven into the book, gives him access to a far greater range of argumentation and reasoning than is common among philosophers who were educated exclusively in the Western analytical tradition. His knowledge of this vast cultural history, and his profound respect for it, is an important source of Sen’s humility in recognizing the essential plurality of legitimate claims - in rejecting any sort of monism in the life of the mind. This larger scope, I should add, enables Sen to teach - by example: he is not a preacher of any kind - a more nuanced sense of the complexity and the richness of Eastern and Islamic cultures. Though Sen is steeped in other traditions (some of which are, of course, his own traditions), his syncretism carries no threat of a clash of civilizations. Nor does it propound any kind of superficial harmony. Instead his work - in its simultaneous affirmation of the universal and the particular - serves as an eloquent and humane testimony to the power of reason, which respects (when it is honest and attends to the integrity of its arguments) the multiplicity of voices and traditions."

Moshe Halbertal is Professor of Jewish Thought and Philosophy at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Michael Tomasello receives Hegel Prize 2009

On December 16, the American developmental psychologist Michael Tomasello receives the Hegel Prize 2009, awarded by the city of Stuttgart.

Jürgen Habermas will give the Laudatio.

The programme:

Teil I:
Wissenschaftliches Programm des Forschungsverbunds Sprachwissenschaft und Kognition der Universität Stuttgart
(Universität Stuttgart)

15:30-16:00 Uhr:
- Grußwort des Rektors Prof. Dr.-Ing. Wolfram Ressel
- Vorstellung des Forschungsverbunds und Einführung zum Werk von Prof. Dr. Tomasello durch Prof. Dr. Klaus von Heusinger

16:00-17:00 Uhr:
Vortrag Prof. Dr. Michael Tomasello: "Communication Before Language"

Teil II:
Feierliche Verleihung des Hegel-Preises 2009
(Rathaus der Stadt Stuttgart)

Ab 19:00 Uhr:
- Urkundenübergabe durch Oberbürgermeister Dr. Wolfgang Schuster
- Laudatio: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Habermas
- Dankesrede des Preisträgers
- Stehempfang

Past winners of the Hegel Prize include Jürgen Habermas, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, Niklas Luhmann and Charles Taylor.

On November 20, 2009, Michael Tomasello received the Oswald Külpe Award at the University of Würzburg, Germany. Read Wolfgang Schneider's Laudatio here (in English).

See my previous posts on Michael Tomasello here, here and here.

Read reports from the event:
- in Stuttgarter Nachrichten, December 18, 2009.

- in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, December 18, 2009.

The speeches by
Wolfgang Schuster, Jürgen Habermas, and Michael Tomasello here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Michael Tomasello: "Why We Cooperate"

Why We Cooperate

by Michael Tomasello

(MIT Press, 2009)

208 pages


In "Why We Cooperate", Tomasello's studies of young children and great apes help identify the underlying psychological processes that very likely supported humans' earliest forms of complex collaboration and, ultimately, our unique forms of cultural organization, from the evolution of tolerance and trust to the creation of such group-level structures as cultural norms and institutions.

Drop something in front of a two-year-old, and she's likely to pick it up for you. This is not a learned behavior, psychologist Michael Tomasello argues. Through observations of young children in experiments he himself has designed, Tomasello shows that children are naturally—and uniquely—cooperative. Put through similar experiments, for example, apes demonstrate the ability to work together and share, but choose not to.

As children grow, their almost reflexive desire to help—without expectation of reward—becomes shaped by culture. They become more aware of being a member of a group. Groups convey mutual expectations, and thus may either encourage or discourage altruism and collaboration. Either way, cooperation emerges as a distinctly human combination of innate and learned behavior.

Scholars Carol Dweck, Joan Silk, Brian Skyrms, and Elizabeth Spelke respond to Tomasello's findings and explore the implications.

Table of Contents


Why We Cooperate
1. Born (and Bred) to Help
2. From Social Interaction to Social Institutions
3. Where Biology and Culture Meet

1. Joan B. Silk
2. Carol S. Dweck
3. Brian Skyrms
4. Elizabeth S. Spelke

View inside the book here.

Reviewed by Nicholas Wade in New York Times, November 30.

Michael Tomasello is an American developmental psychologist, and since 1998 co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Two recent papers by Tomasello et.al. [pdf files]:

Liszkowski, U., Schäfer, M., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2009). Prelinguistic Infants, but not Chimpanzees, Communicate about Absent Entities. Psychological Science, 20(5), 654-660.

Vaish, A., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2009). Sympathy Through Affective Perspective Taking and its Relation to Prosocial Behavior in Toddlers. Developmental Psychology, 45(2), 534–543.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Habermas reviews book by Tomasello

In this week's edition of "Die Zeit" (December 10, 2009), Jürgen Habermas reviews "Die Ursprünge der menschlichen Kommunikation" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2009) by the American developmental psychologist Michael Tomasello.

It is a German translation of "Origins of Human Communication" (MIT Press, 2008).

Excerpt from the review:
"Mit dem sozialpragmatischen Ansatz lenkt Tomasello die Kognitionsforschung in eine andere Richtung, als es das heute vorherrschende Paradigma nahelegt. Er nimmt Wittgensteins Einsicht ernst, die Hilary Putnam auf den Punkt bringt, dass Bedeutungen nichts sind, was "in einem einzelnen Kopf steckt". Hingegen scheinen Schimpansen nicht aus den Schranken ihrer selbstbezogenen, von jeweils eigenen Interessen gesteuerten Sicht ausbrechen zu können. Sie sind zwar außergewöhnlich intelligent und können intentional handeln... Aber sie können keine interpersonale Beziehung mit einem anderen eingehen. Aus sozialpragmatischer Sicht besteht die entscheidende evolutionäre Errungenschaft in der komplexen Fähigkeit, sich auf einen Artgenossen so einzustellen, dass beide in der gestenvermittelten Bezugnahme auf objektive Gegebenheiten dieselben Ziele verfolgen, also kooperieren können."

On December 16, 2009, Michael Tomasello receives the 2009 Hegel Prize at a ceremony in Stuttgart. See more here.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Stephen E. Toulmin dies at 87

The University of Southern California informs:

Stephen Edelston Toulmin, University Professor Emeritus and one of the most influential ethical philosophers of the latter half of the 20th century, has died. He was 87.

Read the obituary in USC News here

Obituary in the New York Times here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Reappraising Nozick's "Anarchy, State, and Utopia"

From The Brooks Blog:

Reappraising "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" conference

January 8-9, 2010, at King's College London.


(Titles to be confirmed)

Friday, January 8, 2010
Michael Otsuka (University College London) - `Nozickian Side-Constraints'
Peter Vallentyne (Missouri) - 'Liberty and Self-ownership'
Eric Mack (Tulane) - 'The Emergence of the State'
David Schmidtz (Arizona) - 'Entitlement and Desert'

Saturday, January 9, 2010
Barbara Fried (Stanford) - 'Nozick's Theory of Property'
John Meadowcroft (King's College London) - 'The Critique of Rawls'
Serena Olsaretti (Cambridge) - 'Equality and Arbitrariness'
Ralf Bader (St. Andrews) - 'The Framework for Utopia'
Chandran Kukathas (LSE) - 'Diversity and the Minimal State'

Attendance is free.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Book on Habermas's discourse theory on democracy

Der Sinn von Demokratie.
Die Diskurstheorie der Demokratie und die Debatte über die Legitimität der EU

by Daniel Gaus

(Campus Verlag, 2009)

[from here]

The discourse-theoretical argument on democracy is often criticised for being utopian, in that it provided a blueprint for a just political order and missed institutional reality in actual democracies. Daniel Gaus argues that this criticism is based on a misreading of Habermas’ theory. He argues that, contrary to some interpretation, discourse theory on democracy and law does not aim to normatively justify a certain model of a democratic society.

Instead, it seeks to describe and explain real-world political practice in modern democracies with a focus on a specific object of analysis: collective belief systems regarding the legitimacy of political rule. The main hypothesis of discourse theory is, that during a socio-historical learning process, the concept of the democratic constitutional state has evolved into the normative ideal of political order. Or, in other words, within the collective consciousness of modern societies, the concepts of democracy, statehood and law together cover the necessary conditions for legitimate political rule.

Seen as a contribution to a reconstructive sociology of democracy, Habermas’ discourse theory needs further elaboration to substantiate its central hypotheses. Gaus argues that European integration could be seen as a test case in this regard. However, the question, then, would not be whether or how the EU could or should become a constitutional state. Instead, empirical analysis of justificatory practices of political rule would be necessary to answer the question, whether the ideal of the democratic constitutional state actually orients legitimacy judgments – in the political practice of the nation-states as well as in the political practice of the European Union.



Die Habermassche Theorie

Exemplarische Analyse zweier Rechtfertigungen der Rechtsordnung
der Europäischen Union

Schlussbetrachtung und Ausblick

Daniel Gaus is Senior Researcher at ARENA, Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo, Norway.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Judith Butler and Cornel West in conversation

From the conference on "Rethinking Secularism: The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere" (New York University, October 22, 2009), a discussion between Judith Butler and Cornel West, in which they exchange thoughts on the ethics and limitations of citizenship, as well as temporality, memory, and the problematics of progress;

Audio and transcript here (at the blog "The Immanent Frame")

Listen to Butler's and West's paper presentations that preceded this discussion here.

From the same conference: Jürgen Habermas and Charles Taylor in conversation here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Links to the Sloterdijk/Honneth debate

Peter Sloterdijk: "Die Revolution der gebenden Hand"
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 13, 2009)

Peter Sloterdijk: "Aus Steueruntertanen müssen Bürger werden"
(Die Welt, July 12, 2009)

Axel Honneth: "Fataler Tiefsinn aus Karlsruhe"
(Die Zeit, September 24, 2009) Update: English translation here

Jürgen Kaube: "Der Vermögensverwalter"
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, September 25, 2009)

Peter Sloterdijk: "Das elfte Gebot: die progressive Einkommenssteuer"
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, September 27, 2009)

Jürgen Kaube: "Gespräch mit Jürgen Kaube über den Honneth Sloterdijk Streit"
(Interview in Radio Bremen, September 29, 2009)

Christoph Menke: "Wahrheit - Nicht Stil"
(Die Zeit, October 15, 2009)

Karl Heinz Bohrer: "Lobhudeleien der Gleichheit"
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, October 21, 2009)

Harry Nutt: "Eingrenzung der Kampfzone"
(Frankfurter Rundschau, October 22, 2009)

Axel Honneth: "Gesprächszeit"
(Interview in Radio Bremen, October 26, 2009)

Peter Sloterdijk: "Aufbruch der Leistungsträger"
(Cicero, November 2009)

Franz Sommerfeld: "Die neuen Sozialliberalen"
(Frankfurter Rundschau, November 4, 2009)

Paul Kirchhof: "Die Steuer ist ein Preis der Freiheit"
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, November 7, 2009)

Christian Schlüter: "Sektkorkenknaller auf der Debattenparty"
(Frankfurter Rundschau, November 10, 2009)

Harald Jähner: "Almosen statt Steuern?"
(Berliner Zeitung, November 18, 2009)

Albrecht von Lucke: "Propaganda der Ungleichheit"
(Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 12/2009


Axel Honneth: "Nach neuen Formen suchen" (Interview)
(Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, December 17, 2009)

Rüdiger Safranski - Zeiten-Wende im Diskurs? Die neue Sloterdijk-Debatte [Audio]
(Interview in Deutschlandsfunk, December 20, 2009)

(Frankfurter Rundschau, December 29, 2009)

Peter Sloterdijk - Wider die Verteufelung der Leistungsträger (Interview)
(Süddeutsche Zeitung, January 6, 2010)

Lutz Wingert - Ab in die Dienerschule
(Die Zeit, January 7, 2010)

Jens Jessen - Jetzt heißt es betteln lernen
(Die Zeit, January 21, 2010)

Oskar Negt - Interview [Video]
(3sat, January 28, 2010)

Peter Sloterdijk - The Grasping Hand
(City Journal, Winter 2010, vol. 20 no. 1)

Albrecht von Lucke - Abschied vom "Aufstiegsversprechen der Republik" (Interview)
(Deutschlandsradio, February 15, 2010)

Norbert Bolz - Ohne Ungleichheit kein Leistungsansporn (Interview)
(Deutschlandsradio, February 16, 2010)

Manfred Frank - "Die spätgriechische Dekadenz"
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 10, 2010)

Peter Sloterdijk - "Die nehmende Hand und die gebende Seite"
(Book, Suhrkamp Verlag, 2010)

Peter Sloterdijk - "Warum ich doch recht habe"
(Die Zeit, December 2, 2010)

Elke Brüns - "Der gute Mensch aus Karlsruhe"
(Frankfurter Rundschau, December 11, 2010)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Essays on the philosophy of Iris Marion Young

Dancing with Iris:
The Philosophy of Iris Marion Young

by Ann Ferguson & Mechtild Nagel

(Oxford University Press, 2009)

280 pages


Iris Marion Young (1949-2006) was a world-renowned feminist moral and political philosopher whose many books and articles spanned more than three decades. She explored issues of social justice and oppression theory, the phenomenology of women's bodies, deliberative democracy and questions of terrorism, violence, international law and the role of the national security state. Her works have been of great interest to those both in the analytic and Continental philosophical tradition, and her roots range from critical theory (Habermas and Marcuse), and phenomenology (Beauvoir and Merleau Ponty) to poststructural psychoanalytic feminism (Kristeva and Ingaray). This anthology of writings aims to carry on the fruitful lines of thought she created and contains works by both well-known and younger authors who explore and engage critically with aspects of her work.


Homage to Iris Marion Young
1. Introduction - Ann Ferguson & Mechthild Nagel
2. When I think about myself as politically engaged, I think of myself as a citizen: Interview with Irish Young - Vlasta Jalusic & Mojca Pajnik
3. Letter to Iris Young - Karsten J. Struhl

Embodiment, Phenomenology and Gender
4. Iris Young and the Gendering of Phenomenology - Sandra Bartky
5. Resonance and Dissonance: The Role of Personal Experience in Iris Marion Young's Feminist Phenomenology - Michaele Ferguson
6. Throwing Like a Girl, Dancing Like a Feminist Philosopher - Susan Leigh Foster
7. Iris Marion Young: Between Phenomenology and Structural Injustice - Bonnie Mann

Theorizing the State: Method, Violence and Resistance
8. L'Imagination au pouvoir: Comparing John Rawls's Method of Ideal Theory with Iris Marion Youngs Method of Critical Theory - Alison M. Jaggar
9. Thinking Between Democracy and Violence - Bat-Ami Bar On
10. Engendering [In]Security and Terror: On the Protection Racket of Security States - Margaret Denike

Justice: Ethics and Responsibility
11. Iris Young's Last Thoughts on Responsibility for Global Justice - Martha Nussbaum
12. Injustice, Evil, and Oppression - Claudia Card
13. The Faces of Animal Oppression - Lori Gruen
14. Making Character Disposition Matter in Young's Deliberative Democracy - Desirée Melton

Justice: Democracy and Inclusion
15. Iris Young, Global Responsibility and Solidarity - Ann Ferguson
16. Varieties of Global Responsibility: Social Connection, Human Rights, and Transnational Solidarity - Carol C. Gould
17. On Immigration Politics in the Context of European Societies and the Structural Inequality Model - Máriam Martinez
18. Womens Work Trips and Multifaceted Oppression - Ibipo Johnston-Anumonwo

Ann Ferguson is Emerita Professor of Women's Studies and Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Mechthild Nagel is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies at the State University of New York, College at Cortland.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

German translation of Rawls's book on religion

A German translation of John Rawls's "A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith" (Harvard University Press, 2009) is coming out on Suhrkamp Verlag in spring 2010.

The German title: "Über Sünde, Glaube und Religion".

Jürgen Habermas will write an afterword to the German edition.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rawls and Habermas are the "leaders" of political theory

The Oxford University Press has published a 10-volume "Oxford Handbooks of Political Science" (2006-2009), edited by Robert E. Goodin. In a new supplementary volume with selected chapters from the ten volumes, Robert Goodin has written a chapter on "the state of the discipline" which contains lists of the "leaders" of the sub-disciplines of political science (defined as the 1 percent of people whose names appear most frequently in the indices of the volumes).

In the sub-discipline "Political Theory", the leaders are:

1. John Rawls (86 entries)
2. Jürgen Habermas (50)
3. Michel Foucault (48)
4. Iris Marion Young (36)
5. Ronald Dworkin (35)
6. Will Kymlicka (34)
7. Charles Taylor (30)
8. Seyla Benhabib (29)
9. W. E. Connolly (28)
10. David Miller (24)
11. Hannah Arendt (23)
12. Brian Barry (23)
13. Leo Strauss (23)
14. Jeremy Waldron (22)
15. Sheldon S. Wolin (22)

All pre-20th century authors are excluded from the list.

Both W.E. Connolly and David Miller have authored a chapter in the volume on political theory.

On the list of the "leaders of the discipline" (defined as the most frequently names in the indices of the ten volumes), John Rawls is number 3 (132 entries) and Habermas number 9 (95 entries).

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Cosmopolitan Imagination

New book by Gerard Delanty:

The Cosmopolitan Imagination
The Renewal of Critical Social Theory

(Cambridge University Press, 2009)


Gerard Delanty provides a comprehensive assessment of the idea of cosmopolitanism in social and political thought which links cosmopolitan theory with critical social theory. He argues that cosmopolitanism has a critical dimension which offers a solution to one of the weaknesses in the critical theory tradition: failure to respond to the challenges of globalization and intercultural communication. Critical cosmopolitanism, he proposes, is an approach that is not only relevant to social scientific analysis but also normatively grounded in a critical attitude. Delanty’s argument for a critical, sociologically oriented cosmopolitanism aims to avoid, on the one hand, purely normative conceptions of cosmopolitanism and, on the other, approaches that reduce cosmopolitanism to the empirical expression of diversity. He attempts to take cosmopolitan theory beyond the largely Western context with which it has generally been associated, claiming that cosmopolitan analysis must now take into account non-Western expressions of cosmopolitanism.



1. The Rise and Decline of Classical Cosmopolitanism
2. Contemporary Cosmopolitanism and Social Theory
3. Global Ethics, Solidarity and the Problem of Violence
4. Cosmopolitan Citizenship and the Post-Sovereign State
5. Multiculturalism from a Cosmopolitan Perspective
6. Religion in a Cosmopolitan Society
7. Cosmopolitanism, Modernity and Global History
8. Cosmopolitanism and European Political Community
9. Europe as a Borderland
10. Conclusion: Intercultural Dialogue in a Post-Western World

Gerard Delanty is Professor of Sociology and Social & Political Thought, the Department of Sociology, University of Essex, UK.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Jürgen Habermas and Charles Taylor in conversation

From the conference on "Rethinking Secularism: The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere" (New York University, October 22, 2009), a discussion between Jürgen Habermas and Charles Taylor on the difference between religious and secular reasoning:

Audio and transcript here (at the blog "The Immanent Frame")


Jürgen Habermas: "I’m, in the first place, maintaining that there are differences in kind between religious and secular reasons. Secondly, I’m maintaining that religion makes, in relation to the legitimation of constitutional essentials and so forth, a difference because of the historical fusion of religion with politics that had to be differentiated out."

Charles Taylor: "I don’t see how you can track in different kinds of discourse—unless we are talking about other kinds of discourse, where I’m saying to you, “Well, I had this great experience, a vision of the Virgin or St. Therese,” and so on—Of course, at that point, that discourse is directly related to this kind of experience. Certain kinds of discourse, if I were trying to describe to you a religious experience, would be directly related to that experience. But the kind of discourse we’re sharing—Martin Luther King had a certain discourse about the U.S. Constitution and its entailments which weren’t being followed through. And then he had a very powerful Christian discourse, referring to Exodus, referring to liberation. Nobody had any trouble understanding this. They didn’t have to imagine or be able to understand or conceive the deeper experiences that he might have had—you know, the experience in the kitchen when he decided he had to go on."

Jürgen Habermas: "I do want to save also the imperative character of religious speech in the public sphere, because I’m convinced that there are buried intuitions that can be uncovered by a moving speech. Listening to Martin Luther King, it makes no difference whether you are secular or not. You understand what he means. He is speaking in the public and was killed for that. This is not our difference. Our difference is that in one of your phrases, at least in the paper, you said there is a call for a deeper grounding of a secular justification of constitutional essentials in terms of popular sovereignty and human rights. This is our difference. There I think I could not follow you...."

Jürgen Habermas: "I am raised as a Lutheran Protestant and now I am an agnostic...."

Charles Taylor: "If you want an emphasis on negotiation, where we put together our charter of rights from different people, it can’t be in Benthamite language, it can’t be simply in Kantian language, it can’t be in Christian language. What Jürgen calls “secular” I’ll call “neutral.” That’s how I see it. I see it as absolutely indispensable."

Listen to the paper presentations that preceded this discussion here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thomas Pogge at Oxford University, November 27

Professor Thomas Pogge (Yale) will deliver the second Society for Applied Philosophy Annual Lecture at Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, November 27.
The lecture's title is "Measuring Development, Poverty and Gender Equity".

The lecture will be chaired by Onora O'Neill, Honorary President of the Society for Applied Philosophy.

The paper will be published in issue 27:1 of Journal of Applied Philosophy.

Thomas Pogge is Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University. His latest book is "World Poverty and Human Rights", 2nd, expanded edition (Polity Press 2008). In sping 2010, Cambridge University Press will publish his new book "Politics as Usual: What Lies behind the Pro-Poor Rhetoric". Polity Press plans a book with critical essays on Pogge - "Thomas Pogge and his Critics", edited by Alison Jaggar.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

R. Bruce Douglass reviews Rawls on religion

R. Bruce Douglass (Georgetown University) reviews John Rawls's "A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith" (Harvard University Press, 2009) in the November issue of "The Christian Century":

"Reasonable God"


"Reading his statement, one gets the sense that his initial movement away from the religion of his youth hardened into something much deeper—and more polemical—as he matured. By the end of his life, Rawls could find nothing good to say about Christianity. He even mounts a moral critique of the idea of salvation itself, on the grounds that it is a recipe for spiritual isolation and self-absorption. "Christianity is a solitary religion," he writes; "each is saved and damned individually, and we naturally focus on our own salvation to the point where nothing else might seem to matter.""

"In the introduction, Joshua Cohen and Thomas Nagel observe that "those who have studied Rawls's work, and even more, those who knew him personally, are aware of a deeply religious temperament that informed his life and writings." That may well have been the case. But the statement shows that Rawls was not religious in any conventional sense.
The book contains none of the sentiments generally expressed in religious practice—not even the reverence for "higher powers" that has often characterized the outlook of deists in the past. It's possible that Rawls simply does not express himself well on this subject, but I don't think it is any accident that he is silent about everything—including the question of creation—that might inspire a sense of indebtedness or gratitude. The affective side of religion was just what he wanted to get away from.
Would Rawls have liked his outlook on religion to be shared more widely? Did he think we would be better off if this were the case? Probably, but as an American living in the latter part of the 20th century, he could hardly have been under any illusions about the likelihood of this occurring. Nor does he seek to be a public advocate for the sort of alternative to conventional religion he favored. He kept that to himself, treating it as the private matter I am sure he thought religion should be."

Monday, November 16, 2009

New essays on Habermas and religion

Moderne Religion?
Theologische und religions-
philosophische Reaktionen
auf Jürgen Habermas

ed. by
Knut Wenzel & Thomas M. Schmidt

(Herder Verlag, 2009),
327 pages


Jürgen Habermas hat mit seinen Überlegungen zur postsäkularen Gesellschaft eine internationale und anhaltende Debatte ausgelöst. Sie trifft in eine Zeit, die von einer neuen, gesellschaftlichen und politischen Präsenz der Religionen im Weltmaßstab geprägt zu sein scheint. Sie wird deswegen gesellschaftlich geführt, aber auch in den "'zuständigen" Disziplinen der Philosophie und der Theologie. Der Band dokumentiert diese Debatte und führt sie weiter.

Back cover text

Während weithin ein Konsens darüber besteht, dass Beuzeit und Moderne vor allem als Entflechtung von Staat und Religion zu deuten sind, ist höchst fraglich, wie das neu entstehende Verhältnis zwischen beiden bestimmt werden kann: Wie weit braucht eine säkulare Gesellschaft womöglich die Religion zur lebensweltlichen Einbettung der sie tragenden Werte? Können religiöse Überzeugungen als vernünftige Argumente in der säkularen Öffentlichkeit geltend gemacht werden, oder müssen sie in eine allgemeine, "säkulare" Sprache übersetzt werden? Braucht es eine theologische Glaubensbegründung zu den Bedingungen nachmetaphysischen Denkens, oder muss umgekehrt die Philosophie ihre eigene Begrenztheit in der Anerkennung eines theologischen "Anteils" an der gemeinsamen Vernunft eingestehen? Sollen die Religionen schließlich nicht aus den Quellen der eigenen Glaubenüberlieferung eine Argumentation der grundsätzlichen Zustimmung zur Säkularität entwickeln? Es ist das Verdienst von Jürgen Habermas, hier entscheidende Denkangebote zu formulieren, welche die Diskussion in Gang setzen und halten und immer wieder unter dem Brennglas einer umfassenden Theoriebildung bündeln. Dies in kritischer Anknüpfung zu würdigen, ist Motiv dieses Buches.


1. Nachmetaphysische Religionsphilosophie - Thomas M. Schmidt

2, Religiöse Argumente im demokratischen Verfahren - Maeve Cooke

3. Offene Fragen im Universum öffentlicher Gründe - Hermann-Josef Große Kracht

4. Jenseits liberaler öffentlicher Vernunft - Maureen Junker-Kenny

5. Religion als kulturelle Praxis an der Grenze zwischen Glauben und Wissen - Michael Reder

6. "Religiös" oder "säkular"? Zu einer problematischen Underscheidung bei Jürgen Habermas - Gesche Linde

7. Ôffentliche Vernunft - religiöse Vernunft - Markus Knapp

8. Die religiöse Selbst- und Weltdeutung des bewussten Daseins und ihre Bedeutung für eine "moderne Religion" - Saskia Wendel

9. Religion und Politik - Ottmar John

10. Gott in der Moderne. Grund und Ansatz einer Theologie der Säkularität - Knut Wenzel

Knut Wenzel is Professor of Dogmatic Theology on the Roman Catholic Theological Faculty of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt.

Thomas M. Schmidt is Professor of Philosophy of Religion on the Roman Catholic Theological Faculty of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Habermas speaks in Moscow on November 16

Jürgen Habermas speaks at the UNESCO conference "Philosophy in the Dialogue of Cultures" in Moscow, November 16-19, 2009. The conference is part of the international celebration of UNESCO's "World Philosophy Day" on November 19.

On the first day of the conference, Habermas will give a keynote lecture, entitled "Religion, Law and Politics - On Political Justice in a Multicultural World Society".

See the programme here.

The topic of Habermas's lecture was changed to ""The Internal Relationship Between Human Dignity and Human Rights". See my post on the event here.

Jeremy Waldron's Holmes Lectures on hate-speech laws

Professor Jeremy Waldron delivered the three-part Holmes Lecture series, the most prestigious talks at Harvard Law School, on October 5 through 7, 2009. They are available online:

"Dignity and Defamation - The Visibility of Hate"

First lecture: “Why Call Hate Speech Group Libel?”
[Paper] [Video]

Second lecture: “What Does a Well-Ordered Society Look Like?”
[Paper] [Video]

Third lecture: “Libel and Legitimacy”
[Paper] [Video]

Jeremy Waldron argued for the regulation of hate speech to reinforce society’s collective commitment to uphold one another’s personal dignity. In making his case, Waldron compared existing hate speech laws from advanced democracies around the world and concluded that they can be an effective way to deal with the “visible defamations of social groups". In the third lecture, Waldron addressed several important counter arguments to his view of hate speech regulation, including Ronald Dworkin's arguments in his foreword to "Extreme Speech and Democracy" (Oxford University Press, 2009), edited by James Weinstein and Ivan Hare.

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Amartya Sen at LSE November 20

Nobel Prize winner Professor Amartya Sen will discuss his latest book "The Idea of Justice" with LSE's Professor Richard Sennett at London School of Economics and Political Science, November 20, 5-6pm.

For details see here.

The event can be seen online at LSE Live.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Martha Nussbaum talks about Hellenistic ethics

On ABC National Radio, November 7, 2009, professor Martha Nussbaum talked with Alan Saunders about

The Therapy of Desire -
Epicureans and Stoics on the Good Life

Audio and transcript here.

Martha Nussbaum is Professor of Law and Ethics at the Department of Philosophy, School of Law, University of Chicago. In 1994, Martha Nussbaum published "The Therapy of Desire. Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics" (Princeton University Press, 1994). It has been re-issued this year with a new introduction by Nussbaum.

Monday, November 09, 2009

New book on democratizing the EU

The Unfinished Democratization of Europe

by Erik O. Eriksen

(Oxford University Press, 2009)

286 pages


The book analyzes the reforms undertaken to bring the EU 'closer to the citizens'. It documents elements of democratization and reduction of arbitrary power. However, democracy requires that the citizens can approve or reject the laws they are subjected to. Since the institutional as well as the civic conditions under which a public justification process would be deemed legitimate are not in place, European post-national democracy remains an unaccomplished mission.


1: Introduction: European Democracy in Transformation

Part I The Democratic Challenge
2: The Quest for Democratization
3: Democratic Legitimacy Through Deliberation?

Part II Elements of Democratization
4: Europe - On the Search for its Legitimacy
5: Chartering Europe
6: The Cosmopolitan Dimension
7: A layered European Public Sphere

Part III What Kind of Legitimate Order?
8: Government or Transnational Governance?
9: Government without a State
10: Parliamentary Democracy Without a Demos

Finale - An Unaccomplished Post-National Democracy

Erik O. Eriksen is Professor of Political Science and Director of ARENA - Centre for European Studies at the University of Oslo. Erik O. Eriksen is co-author with Jarle Weigard of "Understanding Habermas: Communicative Action and Deliberative Democracy" (Continuum, 2003).

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Amartya Sen in Oxford, November 19-20

The Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen visits Oxford University on November 19-20:

(1) Roundtable discussion: Economics and 'The Idea of Justice'

November 19, 1.30-4.30pm, Examination Schools, University of Oxford.

Do we need a new economic framework? This will be a large public event in which leading academics and practitioners will catalyse discussion on how economics must change in the light of the financial crisis and of criticisms that economic progress does not advance human well-being. Speakers will draw on proposals made in Sen’s recent book 'The Idea of Justice' as well as their own work. Confirmed speakers include Amartya Sen, John Broome, Stefan Dercon, Will Hutton, Peter Lilley, Avner Offer, James Purnell, Angus Ritchie, and Sabina Alkire. Input from the floor will be welcome. Chaired by Ngaire Woods and Frances Cairncross.

(2) Distinguished Public Lecture: "The Pursuit of Justice"
November 19, 5.00pm, Sheldonian Theatre, University of Oxford.

The lecture will be chaired by Lord Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of the University.

(3) Philosophy Seminar with Amartya Sen
November 20, 9:30-1:00pm, Lecture Room, Faculty of Philosophy, 10 Merton Street

Chair: John Gardner

9:30-11:00: Discussion of Amartya Sen’s lecture ‘The Pursuit of Justice’
This is a time for philosophers and political scientists in particular to express academic comments or questions to Professor Sen regarding his lecture the previous afternoon, or indeed regarding his recent book The Idea of Justice on which that lecture draws. Members of the Faculty of Philosophy will initiate the discussion, after which the floor will be open.

11:30-1:00: Key issues
In this session, brief papers will be presented to stimulate discussion on certain issues related to The Idea of Justice, including one paper entitled 'Sen on the nature of justice and the grounds of human rights' by John Tasioulas.

For further details see here.