Monday, September 27, 2010

Rainer Forst on "Two Stories about Toleration"

New paper by Professor Rainer Forst (Frankfurt):

"Two Stories about Toleration" (pdf)

In current social conflicts in European societies such as the ones concerning the crucifix in classrooms or the foulard or the burka worn in public, toleration is a concept claimed by all involved. The paper uncovers the historical and conceptual reasons for such ambivalence about the notion of toleration. It starts from a conceptual analysis and then reconstructs two stories about toleration which lead to two different conceptions of it – the hierarchical permission conception and the democratic respect conception. The paper applies these to current conflicts and argues for an understanding of toleration based on a certain form of mutual respect despite deep ethical disagreement.

Rainer Forst is Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main. He is author of "Kontexte der Gerechtigkeit" (1994) [English: "Contexts of Justice" (2002)], "Toleranz im Konflikt" (2003) and "Das Recht auf Rechtfertigung. Elemente einer konstruktivistischen Theorie der Gerechtigkeit" (2007) [An English translation is coming out on Columbia University Press.]

See also Rainer Forst's article on "Toleration" at Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Essays on Political Theory & Political Theology

From Political Theory to Political Theology
Religious Challenges and the Prospects of Democracy

edited by Péter Losonczi & Aakash Singh

(Continuum Books, 2010)

232 pages


During the last two decades we have witnessed what José Casanova has characterised as “religion going public”. This has not been a trend exclusive to traditionally religious nations. Rather, it has been visible in as diverse environments as that of the construction of the new Russian political identity or in the “post-9/11” political discourses of the USA. Surprisingly, important religious manifestations also influenced the political discourses in Britain and, more recently, in France. Partly as a consequence of these phenomena an intensive debate is now evolving about the compatibility of the neutrality of liberal democracy in relation to religiously motivated opinions in public discourses, and the conditions under which such religiously driven contributions could viably “go public”.

This book offers a collection of essays, which critically discusses the most important questions that characterize these debates at the points of their intersection within political theory, political theology and the philosophy of religion, and considers both the challenges and the prospects of this new era which, following Habermas, one may call post-secular.

The book is based on papers presented at a conference in 2008 on "Religion and Democracy: Challenges and Prospects", organized by IRNRD (International Research Network on Religion and Democracy).


Foreword - Graham Ward & Michael Hoelzl

Part One: Liberal Accommodations to the Religious Challenge

1. Religion and Liberalism: Public Reason, Public Sphere and Cultural Pluralism - Sebastiano Maffettone
2. Accommodating Pluralism through Public Justification - Eszter Kollár
3. Public Reason and Models of Judgement - Daniele Santoro
4. Hannah Arendt and the Problem of Public ReligionI - Gábor Gángó

Part Two: Challenging the Liberal Secular Paradigm From Within

5. Cultural Identity, Religion, Moral Pluralism and the Law - Herman De Dijn
6. Can Freedom of Religion Replace the Virtue of Tolerance? - Peter Jonkers
7. Democracy and Moral Relativism in a Post-Secular World - András Lánczi

Part Three: Radicalizing the Challenges: Recuperating Religion
8. Religion, Democracy and the Empty Shrine of Pluralism - Walter Van Herck
9. Religion after Auschwitz - Balázs M. Mezei
10. Politics without Dénouement, Faith without Guarantee - Theo de Wit

Part Four: Political Theology as Political Theory: Prospects

11. Reinhold Niebuhr and the Crisis of Liberalism - Alexander Rosenthal
12. Genuine or Elitist Democracy? - András Csepregi
13. The New Political Theology as Political Theory - Péter Losonczi

Péter Losonczi is Associate Professor at the Institute for Intercultural Studies at the University of West Hungary, Hungary. Aakash Singh is Research Professor at the Centre for Ethics and Global Politics at LUISS University, Rome, Italy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New book on Thomas Pogge and Poverty

Thomas Pogge and his Critics

ed. by Alison Jaggar

(Polity Press, September 2010)

224 pages


The massive disparity between the relative wealth of most citizens in affluent countries and the profound poverty of billions of people struggling elsewhere for survival is morally jolting. But why exactly is this disparity so outrageous and how should the citizens of affluent countries respond? Political philosopher, Thomas Pogge, has emerged as one of the world’s most ardent critics of global injustice which, he argues, is caused directly by the operation of a global institutional order that not only systematically disadvantages poor countries but is imposed on them by precisely those wealthy, powerful countries that benefit the most from the order’s injustice. In allowing their governments to perpetrate this injustice, Pogge contends that citizens of the wealthy countries collude in a monumental crime against humanity.

In this book Pogge’s challenging and controversial ideas are debated by leading political philosophers from a range of philosophical viewpoints.


Introduction -Alison M. Jaggar

1. Philosophy, Social Science, Global Poverty -Joshua Cohen
2. Rights, Harm, and Institutions -Kok-Chor Tan
3. How much is enough Mr Thomas? How much will ever be enough? -Neera Chandhoke
4. What Negative Duties? Which Moral Universalism? -Jiwei Ci

5. Non-Egalitarian Global Fairness -Erin I. Kelly & Lionel K. McPherson
6. Realistic Reform of International Trade in Resources - Leif Wenar
7. Realizing (Through Racializing) Pogge - Charles W. Mills
8. Responses to the Critics - Thomas Pogge

Alison Jaggar is Professor at the Philosophy and Women and Gender Studies, University of Colorado, Boulder.

See also my post on Thomas Pogge's new book "Politics as Usual. What Lies Behind The Pro-Poor Rhetoric" (Polity Press, April 2010).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Paper on Deliberation with Others

Now available on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN):

"Talking it Out": Deliberation with Others Versus Deliberation Within

by Hélène Landemore & Hugo Mercier

This paper uses a psychological theory of reasoning – the argumentative theory of reasoning – to support the normative appeal of the dialogical version of democratic deliberation at the heart of the deliberative democracy ideal. We use the argumentative theory of reasoning to defend democratic deliberation against two types of critique. Our main target is Goodin and Niemeyer’s claim that deliberation within rather than deliberation with others does most of the work in terms of changing people’s minds. We argue, on the contrary, that if the argumentative theory of reasoning is right that the normal context of reasoning is an exchange of arguments among differently-minded people, then it is more likely that talking things out with others, rather than thinking alone, will have epistemic and/or transformative properties. Our secondary target is Cass Sunstein’s claim that the phenomenon of “group polarization” noted to afflict groups of like-minded people casts serious doubts as to the epistemic properties of democratic deliberation. Against Sunstein, the argumentative theory of reasoning predicts that it is only groups of individuals that fail to deliberate properly that are likely to polarize. Where the normal conditions of reasoning are satisfied, dialogical deliberation of the kind favored by most deliberative democrats is likely to have epistemic and transformative properties.

Also available on Hugo Mercier's web site "The argumentative theory of reasoning", some very interesting papers:
- "Reasoning as a Social Competence" (with Dan Sperber).
- "Reasoning is for Arguing: Understanding the Successes and Failures of Deliberation (with Hélène Landemore).
- "The Argumentative Function of Reasoning".
- "On the Universality of Argumentative Reasoning".

See also Hélène Landemore's paper: "Democratic Reason: the Mechanisms of Collective Intelligence in Politics" (pdf, 2008).

Hélène Landemore is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University.

Hugo Mercier is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program, University of Pennsylvania.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

German Introduction to "Global Justice"

Globale Gerechtigkeit
Schlüsseltexte zur Debatte zwischen Partikularismus und Kosmopolitismus

Hg. von Christoph Broszies und Henning Hahn

(Suhrkamp Verlag, September 2010)

480 Seiten


Politische Gerechtigkeit ist längst mehr als eine Angelegenheit einzelner Nationalstaaten. Aber an welchen Kriterien orientiert sich globale Gerechtigkeit, welche Pflichten sind mit ihr verbunden und welche Rolle spielen nationale Grenzen? Zu diesen Fragen versammelt der Band Schlüsseltexte der aktuellen Diskussion, u. a. von Jürgen Habermas, John Rawls, Martha Nussbaum und Thomas Nagel. Er führt in die Grundpositionen ein, stellt die Protagonisten der Debatte vor und eignet sich damit hervorragend als Einführung in die wissenschaftliche und gesellschaftspolitische Debatte um eine neue Gerechtigkeitsordnung.


Die Kosmopolitismus-Partikularismus-Debatte im Kontext - Christoph Broszies & Henning Hahn

I. Partikularismus

1. Das Völkerrecht - John Rawls
2. Das Problem globaler Gerechtigkeit - Thomas Nagel
3. Vernünftige Parteilichkeit gegenüber Landsleuten - David Miller

II. Kosmopolitismus

4. Gerechtigkeit und internationale Beziehungen - Charles R. Beitz
5. Jenseits des Gesellschaftsvertrages - Martha C. Nussbaum
6. Für und wider eine Weltrepublik - Otfried Höffe
7. "Armenhilfe" ins Ausland - Thomas W. Pogge
8. Menschenwürde, Gleichheit und globale Gerechtigkeit - Darrel Moellendorf
9. Verantwortung und globale Gerechtigkeit - Iris Marin Young

III. Weltpolitik und Kritische Theorie

10. Hat die Konstitutionalisierung des Völkerrechts noch eine Chance? - Jürgen Habermas
11. Gibt es ein Menscherecht auf Demokratie? - Seyla Benhabib
12. Zu einer kritischen Theorie transnationaler Gerechtigkeit - Rainer Forst

Christoph Broszies ist wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Lehrstuhl für Internationale Politische Theorie und Philosophie, Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main.

Henning Hahn ist wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut für Philosophie, Universität Kassel.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Essays on "The Philosophy of Recognition"

The Philosophy of Recognition:
Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

edited by Hans-Christoph Schmidt am Busch & Christopher F. Zurn

(Lexington Books, 2010)

378 pages


The theory of recognition is now a well-established and mature research paradigm in philosophy, and it is both influential in and influenced by developments in other fields of the humanities and social sciences. From debates in moral philosophy about the fundamental roots of obligation, to debates in political philosophy about the character of multicultural societies, to debates in legal theory about the structure and justification of rights, to debates in social theory about the prospects and proper objects of critical theory, to debates in ontology, philosophical anthropology and psychology about the structure of personal and group identities, theories based on the concept of intersubjective recognition have staked out central positions. At the same time, contemporary theories of recognition are strongly, perhaps indissociably, connected to themes in the history of philosophy, especially as treated in German idealism.

This volume compromises a collection of original papers by eminent international scholars working at the forefront of recognition theory and provides an unparalleled view of the depth and diversity of philosophical research on the topic. Its particular strength is in exploring connections between the history of philosophy and contemporary research by combining in one volume full treatments of classical authors on recognition—Rousseau, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Marx, Freud—with cutting edge work by leading contemporary philosophers of recognition, including Fraser, Honneth, and others.

The book has been published in German: "Anerkennung" (Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie. Sonderband, 21; Akademie Verlag, 2009). Preview here.


Introduction (pdf) -Christopher F. Zurn

Rousseau and the Human Drive for Recognition (Amour Propre) -Frederick Neuhouser

Recognition and Embodiment (Fichte's Materialism) -Jay Bernstein

"The Pure Notion of Recognition": Reflections on the Grammar of the Relation of Recognition in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit -Michael Quante

Recognition in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit and Contemporary Practical Philosophy - Ludwig Siep

Recognition, the Right, and the Good -Terry Pinkard

Producing For Others -Daniel Brudney

"Recognition" in Psychoanalysis -Andreas Wildt

Rethinking Recognition -Nancy Fraser

Work and Recognition: A Redefinition -Axel Honneth

Taking on the Inheritance of Critical Theory: Saving Marx by Recognition? -Emmanuel Renault

Can the Goals of the Frankfurt School be Achieved by a Theory of Recognition? -Hans-Christoph Schmidt am Busch

Critique of Political Economy and Contemporary Critical Theory: A Defense of Honneth's Theory of Recognition -Jean-Philippe Deranty

On the Scope of 'Recognition': The Role of Adequate Regard and Mutuality -Arto Laitinen

Making the Best of What We Are: Recognition as an Ontological and Ethical Concept -Heikki Ikäheimo


"This collection of superb essays shows the productivity of philosophical perspectives that understand individual and social life as constituted by relations of—successful or failed—recognition. With this approach, normative considerations and critical social analysis can be combined, opening up new paths for research." -- Rainer Forst, Goethe-University Frankfurt

"...the volume as a whole amply displays the richness and fecundity of the recognition paradigm for exploring fundamental questions in social and political theory, as well as in ontology, the metaphysics of human agency, and the study of human nature." - Amy Allen, Dartmouth College (see Amy Allen's review here)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New book: An Intellectual Biography on Habermas

An Intellectual Biography

by Matthew G. Specter

(Cambridge University Press, October 2010)

263 pages


This book follows postwar Germany's leading philosopher and social thinker, Jürgen Habermas, through four decades of political and constitutional struggle over the shape of liberal democracy in Germany. Habermas's most influential theories - of the public sphere, communicative action, and modernity - were decisively shaped by major West German political events: the failure to de-Nazify the judiciary, the rise of a powerful Constitutional Court, student rebellions in the late 1960s, the changing fortunes of the Social Democratic Party, NATO's decision to station nuclear weapons, and the unexpected collapse of East Germany. In turn, Habermas's writings on state, law, and constitution played a critical role in reorienting German political thought and culture to a progressive liberal-democratic model. Matthew Specter uniquely illuminates the interrelationship between the thinker and his culture.


1. The Making of a '58er: Habermas's Search for a Method
2. Habermas as Synthesizer of German Constitutional Theory, 1958–63
3. From the 'Great Refusal' to the Theory of Communicative Action, 1961–81
4. Civil Disobedience, Constitutional Patriotism, and Modernity: Rethinking Germany's Link to 'the West' (Westbindung), 1978–87
5. Learning from the Bonn Republic: Recasting Democratic Theory, 1984–1996

See a preview of the book here.

Matthew G. Specter is Assistant Professor of History at the Central Connecticut State University. See his excellent article on Habermas: "Habermas's Political Thought, 1984-1996: A Historical Interpretation", Modern Intellectual History, vol. 6, no. 1 (April 2009), pp. 91-119.

Also see Martin Beck Matustik's "Jürgen Habermas: A Philosophical-Political Profile" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Discussion of James M. Buchanan's work (video)

From a celebration of Nobel Laureate James M. Buchanan at George Mason University (GMU), September 9, 2010:

Video of the panel discussion of Professor Buchanan’s contributions to social philosophy and political economy [2 hours].

The panel discussants are
- Henry Manne (George Mason University)
- Amartya Sen (Harvard University)
- Elinor Ostrom (Indiana University)
- James M. Buchanan (George Mason University).

James Buchanan received the 5th Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Orders at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Andreas Føllesdal on "Human Rights as a Shared Political Identity"

Now available on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN):

Andreas Føllesdal:

Universal Human Rights as a Shared Political Identity: Necessary? Sufficient? Impossible?

[Originally published in "Metaphilosophy", Vol. 40, No. 1 (2009), pp. 78-91.]

Would a global commitment to international human rights norms provide enough of a sense of community to sustain a legitimate and sufficiently democratic global order? Sceptics worry that human rights cannot help maintain the mutual trust among citizens required for a legitimate political order, since such rights are now too broadly shared. Thus prominent contributors to democratic theory insist that the members of the citizenry must share some features unique to them, to the exclusion of others - be it a European identity (Habermas and Derrida 2003) or a national public culture generally shared only by the members (Miller 1995, 2000). This essay considers and rejects these arguments. While stable, democratic redistributive arrangements do require trust and institutionalised means of trustworthiness; they need not rely on norms or values that distinguish members from non-members: such exclusion is not required. Thus human rights may be part of a common political identity.

Andreas Føllesdal is Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo. He is co-editor of "Political Theory and the European Constitution" (Routledge, 2004). See an excerpt here.

Jürgen Habermas has responded to Føllesdal's critique. In his article "Human Dignity and the Realist Utopia of Human Rights" (Metaphilosophy vol. 41, no. 4, 2010, pp. 464-480), Habermas writes: "I must correct a grave misunderstanding in the introduction to the special issue of Metaphilosophy 40, no. 1 (2009), p. 2 (and in the article by Andreas Føllesdal in the same issue, pp. 85ff). I am, of course, defending the extension of collective political identities beyond the borders of nation-states and by no means share the reservations of liberal nationalists in this respect. Advocating a multilevel global system of a constitutionalized world society, I propose other reasons for why a world government is neither necessary nor feasible." (p. 475f).

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Stephen Macedo on Public Reason

Stephen Macedo (Princeton) has posted a new paper on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN):

Why Public Reason?

Some have recently argued that the ideal of public reason not only accords insufficient respect or freedom to some citizens, including some religious citizens, but in addition, it is superfluous. It is enough, according to Jeffrey Stout, Gerald Gaus, and others, if citizens converge on shared principles of justice. No practical purpose is served by the project of seeking to secure consensus on a common, public justification for such principles (what Rawls would call a shared “political conception”). This paper seeks to make the case that seeking to secure a common justification for our most basic principles does serve a variety of practical imperatives. These include greater guidance for public officials charged with interpreting and applying the principles, and greater stability based on deeper mutual assurance of our shared moral commitment to principles of justice. In addition, a shared moral justification can be expected to play an educative role over the course of time. I argue that all of these consequences are most important for the least well off (and most vulnerable) in society, who benefit most from the greater assurance that their fellow citizens are committed to justice.

Stephen Macedo is Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and Director of the University Center for Human Values. He is the editor of "Deliberative Politics: Essays on Democracy and Dissagrement" (Oxford University Press, 1999).

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Luhmann and Habermas on religion

New article by Michael Reder on Niklas Luhmann's and Jürgen Habermas's view on religion and education:

"Luhmann vs. Habermas revisited. Zwei Funktionale Religionstheorien in ihrer Bedeutung für Bildung in säkularen Gesellschaften" [pdf]

From the online journal: Bildungsforschung 2010 no. 1 - "Religion als formative Funktion für Bildung".

"Die Wiederkehr der Religion ist heute ein wichtiges interdisziplinäres Thema – auch und gerade in den Debatten über Bildung. Habermas und Luhmann liefern hierfür zwei funktionale Religionsbestimmungen. Während Habermas auf die moralische Funktion von Religion fokussiert, thematisiert Luhmann deren Funktion, eine Kommunikation über die Kontingenz von Sinn zu ermöglichen. Beide Ansätze haben Konsequenzen für die Deutung von Religion in säkularen Bildungsprozessen. Diese rekonstruiert der Beitrag und diskutiert kritisch ihre Vor- und Nachteile."

Michael Reder is lecturer at the Munich School of Philosophy. He is co-editor of "Ein Bewusstsein von dem, was fehlt. Eine Diskussion mit Jürgen Habermas" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2008) [English: "An Awareness of What is Missing" (Polity Press, 2010)]. See my previous post here.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Amartya Sen on "Reducing Global Injustice" (video)

Professor Amartya Sen (Harvard University) in conversation with Matthew Taylor (The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, London):

Reducing Global Injustice (video, 33 minutes)

The conversation took place on July 7, 2010.

Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor at Harvard University. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998. His latest book is "The Idea of Justice" (Harvard University Press, 2009).