Friday, April 20, 2012

Book: "From Global Poverty to Global Equality"

From Global Poverty to Global Equality
A Philosophical Exploration

by Pablo Gilabert

(Oxford University Press, 2012)

345 pages


This book argues that there are basic positive duties of justice to help eradicate severe global poverty; that global egalitarian principles are also reasonable even if they cannot be fully realized in the short term; and that there are dynamic duties to enhance the feasibility of the transition from global poverty to global equality in the face of nonideal circumstances such as the absence of robust international institutions and the lack of a strong ethos of cosmopolitan solidarity. The very notion of feasibility is crucial for normative reasoning, but has received little explicit philosophical discussion. This book offers a systematic exploration of that concept as well as of its application to global justice. It also arbitrates the current debate between humanist and associativist accounts of the scope of distributive justice. Drawing on moral contractualism (the view that we ought to follow the principles that no one could reasonably reject), this book provides a novel defense of humanism, challenges several versions of associativism (which remains the most popular view among political philosophers), and seeks to integrate the insights underlying both views.

Contents [preview]

1: Introduction: The Complexity of the Debate on Global Justice

Part I: Beyond Global Poverty

2: Basic Positive Duties of Justice: A Contractualist Defense
3: Negative Duties and the Libertarian Challenge
4: The Feasibility of Global Poverty Eradication in Nonideal Circumstances

Part II: Toward Global Equality

5: Humanist versus Associativist Accounts of Global Equality
6: A Humanist Defense of Global Equality
7: The Feasibility of Global Equality
8: Conclusion: Exploring Responsibilities of Global Justice

Pablo Gilabert is Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Concordia University, Montreal.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Book: "Perfecting Justice in Rawls, Habermas and Honneth"

Perfecting Justice in Rawls, Habermas and Honneth
A Deconstructive Perspective

by Miriam Bankovsky

(Continuum, 2012)

256 pages


Miriam Bankovsky shows how the pursuit of justice requires two orientations. The first is a practical commitment to the possibility of justice, which is the clear starting point for the broadly constructive theories of Rawls, Habermas and Honneth. Indeed, if justice were not possible, it would be difficult to see why it is worthwhile for human beings to live on this earth. However, a second orientation qualifies the first. It can be expressed as a deconstructive attentiveness to the impossibility of determining justice’s content. This impossibility results from the tension between the appeal for individual consideration and the appeal for impartiality, demands that Derrida believes our historical concept of justice includes. Framed by these two orientations, this ambitious book explores the promise and shortcomings of the constructive theories. Attentive to concrete experiences of injustice that these thinkers tend to overlook, Bankovsky provocatively challenges Rawls’ account of civil disobedience, Habermas’ defence of rational consensus, and Honneth’s ideal of mutual recognition, providing new insights into deconstruction’s relevance for contemporary theories of justice.

Contents [preview]

1. Perfecting Justice: an Art of the Im/possible

Part I. Justice as Fairness: a Project to Pursue

2. Rawls and the Possibility of ‘Ideal Theory’
3. Rawls and the ‘Undecidability’ of the Original Position Procedure

Part II. Rational Consensus: Open to Contestation in Principle

4. Habermas and the Possibility of Popular Sovereignty
5. Habermas and the Perfectibility of Deliberative Outcomes

Part III. Perfecting Recognition Relations

6. Honneth and the Possibility of Mutual Recognition
7. Honneth and Moral Progress in the Quality of Recognition Relations
8. Im/possibility and the Cultivation of Deconstructive Civic Attitudes

Miriam Bankovsky is Lecturer in Political Theory for the Politics program at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. She is co-editor (with Alice Le Goff) of "Recognition Theory and Contemporary French Moral and Political Philosophy" (Manchester University Press, 2012).

Her thesis from 2008 is available online: "Social Justice after Kant: Between Constructivism and Deconstruction (Rawls, Habermas, Levinas, Derrida)" [pdf].

Monday, April 16, 2012

Symposium on 'Cosmopolitanism Contested' in Copenhagen

Symposium on "Cosmopolitanism Contested" at the University of Copenhagen on May 3, 2012.

The symposium seeks responses from critical social theory on cosmopolitanism in light of the current challenges to European democracy. How do the various expressions of anti-cosmopolitanism manifest themselves in contemporary Europe? How to discern the proper boundaries between cosmopolitanism and reactions to it (‘anti-cosmopolitanism’)? Is there an intrinsic link between Europeanisation and re-nationalisation (which, in fact, occurs simultaneously and is increasingly constraining the development of European integration)? Does cosmopolitanism beget resistance?


Seyla Benhabib (Yale University)
Richard Wolin (New York University)
John Erik Fossum (University of Oslo)
Adrian Favell (Sciences Po, Paris)
Gerard Delanty (University of Sussex)

The symposium is open to the general public. Further information here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Eight Lectures on the Work of Charles Taylor (audios)

Eight audio files from an international conference on the work of Charles Taylor, held on March 29-31, 2012, in Montréal:

Richard J. Bernstein -
"Taylor’s Engaged Pluralism" (mp3)

Ronald Beiner -
"Taylor, Rawls, and Secularism" (mp3)

Nancy Hirschmann -
"What’s Right With Positive Liberty" (mp3)

Craig Calhoun -
"Social Imaginaries, Human Action, and History" (mp3)

K. Anthony Appiah -
"Self-Creation or Self-Discovery?" (mp3)

Joseph Heath -
"The Status of Abstract Moral Concepts" (mp3)

James Tully -
"Charles Taylor on Deep Diversity" (mp3)

Cécile Laborde -
"Protecting Freedom of Conscience in the Secular Age" (mp3)

See the complete programme here [pdf].

All audio files of the presentations - including Charles Taylor's replies - are available here.

(Thanks to ABC Democracy for the pointer!)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Amartya Sen: Democratic Failure in Europe

In an interview in the German newspaper "Handelsblatt" (April 12, 2012), Professor Amartya Sen talks about the EU crisis and the neoclassical macro economists.

"Viele Ökonomen nehmen ihre simplen Modelle zu ernst

Here is an English version:

"There is a democratic failure in Europe"

"One result of European monetary integration, without a political integration, is that the population of many of these countries has no voice. Economics is de-linked from the political base. That I think is a mistake and it goes completely against the big European movement that began in the 40s and fostered the idea of a democratic, united Europe."

Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor at Harvard University. His most recent book is "The Idea of Justice" (Harvard University Press, 2009).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thomas Pogge talks about John Rawls

On January 19, 2012, Professor Thomas Pogge visited Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and talked with Julia Taylor Kennedy about Rawls's theory of justice, inequality, the pharmaceutical industry, and human rights.

In this except Thomas Pogge describes what it was like to study under John Rawls.

(Thanks to "The Social Rationalist" for the pointer.)

Read a transcript of the complete conversation with Thomas Pogge here.

Thomas Pogge is Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University. He is the author of "John Rawls: His Life and Theory of Justice" (Oxford University Press, 2007), "World Poverty and Human Rights" (Polity Press, 2008, 2nd, expanded edition) and "Politics as Usual: What Lies Behind The Pro-Poor Rhetoric" (Polity Press, 2010).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New book: The Post-Secular in Question

The Post-Secular in Question
Religion in Contemporary Society

Ed. by Philip Gorski, David Kyuman Kim, John Torpey & Jonathan VanAntwerpen

(New York University Press, 2012)

375 pages


The Post-Secular in Question considers whether there has in fact been a religious resurgence of global dimensions in recent decades. This collection of original essays by leading academics represents an interdisciplinary intervention in the continuing and ever-transforming discussion of the role of religion and secularism in today’s world. Foregrounding the most urgent and compelling questions raised by the place of religion in the social sciences, past and present, The Post-Secular in Question restores religion to a more central place in social scientific thinking about the world, helping to move scholarship “beyond unbelief.”


The Post-Secular in Question - Philip S. Gorski

1. What is Religion: Categorical Reconfigurations in a Global Horizon - Richard Madsen

2. Things in their Entanglements - Courtney Bender
3. Recovered Goods: Durkheimian Sociology as Virtue Ethics - Philip S. Gorski
4. "Simple Ideas, Small Miracles": The Obama Phenomenon - Hent de Vries
5. Post-Secular Society: Consumerism and the Democratization of Religion - Bryan S. Turner
6. Secular Liturgies and the Prospects for a "Post-Secular" Sociology of Religion - James K.A. Smith
7. Religion and the University before the Post-Secular Age - Tomoko Masuzawa
Religion and Knowledge in the Post-Secular Academy [pdf] - John Schmalzbauer & Kathleen Mahoney
9. Jürgen Habermas and the Post-Secular Appropriation of Religion - Michele Dillon
10. Religion and Secularization in the United States and Western Europe - John Torpey
Spiritual Politics and Post-Secular Authenticity: Foucault and Habermas on Post-Metaphysical Religion [pdf] - Eduardo Mendieta
12. Time, World, and Secularism - Craig Calhoun.

The essays are based on papers presented at a confence on "Exploring the Post-Secular" at Yale University, April 3-4, 2009.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Habermas and the philosophy of education

The latest issue of "Studies in Philosophy and Education" (March 2012) is a special issue on Jürgen Habermas - "The unfinished project of education: Habermas in conversation with others".

Introduction: From Fromm to Lacan: Habermas and Education in Conversation
by Mark Murphy & John Bamber

Schools as Ethical or Schools as Political? Habermas Between Dewey and Rawls
by James Scott Johnston

Fromm and Habermas: Allies for Adult Education and Democracy
by Ted Fleming

Discourse and Recognition as Normative Grounds for Radical Pedagogy: Habermasian and Honnethian Ethics in the Context of Education
by Rauno Huttunen & Mark Murphy

Crossing the Divide Within Continental Philosophy: Reconstruction, Deconstruction, Dialogue and Education
by Marianna Papastephanou

Habermas, Pupil Voice, Rationalism, and Their Meeting with Lacan’s Objet Petit A
by Paul Moran & Mark Murphy

Speaking Habermas to Gramsci: Implications for the Vocational Preparation of Community Educators
by John Bamber & Jim Crowther

See summaries and previews here.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Two new papers on Axel Honneth

Two papers from the symposium on "Towards a New Ethical Imagination: Political and social values in a cosmopolitan world society", Turku, Finland, February 2012:

* Arto Laitinen -
Social bases of self-esteem: Rawls, Honneth and beyond

This paper discusses Rawls’s thesis that the social basis of self-respect is one of the primary social goods. While the central element of the social basis consists in the attitudes of others (e.g. respect or esteem) the social basis may include also possession of various goods. Further, one may distinguish, following Honneth, universalistic basic respect from differential esteem and from loving care. This paper focuses on esteem, and further distinguishes three important varieties thereof (anti-stigmatization; contributions to societal goods, projects of self-realization), which all differ from recognition of cultural identity. The normative implications will differ in these different contexts.

* Jacob Dahl Rendtorff -
Axel Honneth: The law of freedom – Institutionalization of freedom in modern societies - A reconstruction and some remarks

This paper reconstructs the argument of Axel Honneth's recent book Das Recht der Freiheit as a theory of the institutionalization of freedom in modern society. In particular, it looks at Honneth's argument for the realization of freedom in law and morality that is proposed as a contemporary re-interpretation of Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Then I discuss Honneth's argument for the reality of freedom in the ethical spheres of civil society, in particular in the family, the market and in democracy. Finally, the paper proposes some critical remarks to Honneth's theory.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Honneth talks at University College London

On April 19, 2012, Professor Axel Honneth talks at a conference on Rousseau at the University College London.

His keynote lecture is entitled "The vicissitudes of recognition: The legacy of J-J Rousseau".

Among the other participants are Philip Pettit, Tracy Strong, Richard Bellamy, Cécile Laborde, Quentin Skinner, and Gareth Stedman-Jones.

See the programme of conference: "Rousseau 300 - Nature, Self, and State", University College London, April 19-21, 2012.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Now in English: Habermas's book on Europe

The Crisis of the European Union

by Jürgen Habermas

(Polity Press, 2012)


In the midst of the current crisis that is threatening to derail the historical project of European unification, Jürgen Habermas has been one of the most perceptive critics of the ineffectual and evasive responses to the global financial crisis, especially by the German political class. This extended essay on the constitution for Europe represents Habermas’s constructive engagement with the European project at a time when the crisis of the eurozone is threatening the very existence of the European Union. There is a growing realization that the European treaty needs to be revised in order to deal with the structural defects of monetary union, but a clear perspective for the future is missing. Drawing on his analysis of European unification as a process in which international treaties have progressively taken on features of a democratic constitution, Habermas explains why the current proposals to transform the system of European governance into one of executive federalism is a mistake. His central argument is that the European project must realize its democratic potential by evolving from an international into a cosmopolitan community. The opening essay on the role played by the concept of human dignity in the genealogy of human rights in the modern era throws further important light on the philosophical foundations of Habermas’s theory of how democratic political institutions can be extended beyond the level of nation-states.

Now that the question of Europe and its future is once again at the centre of public debate, this important intervention by one of the greatest thinkers of our time will be of interest to a wide readership.



The Crisis of the European Union in Light of a Constitutionalization of International Law - An Essay on the Constitution for Europe
I. Why Europe Is Now More Than Ever a Constitutional Project
II. The European Union Must Decide between Transnational Democracy and Post-Democratic Executive Federalism
III. From the International to the Cosmopolitan Community

The Concept of Human Dignity and the Realistic Utopia of Human Rights

Appendix: The Europe of the Federal Republic
I. After the Bankruptcy
II. The Euro Will Decide the Fate of the European Union
III. A Pact for or against Europe? (pdf)

Habermas's book was published last year in German: "Zur Verfassung Europas" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2011). See my post on the book here (with links to the original texts).

New Book: The Right to Have Rights

The Right to Have Rights
Citizenship, Humanity, and International Law

by Alison Kesby

(Oxford University Press, 2012)

192 pages


This book provides the first in-depth examination of the right to have rights in the context of the international protection of human rights. It explores two overarching questions. First, how do different and competing conceptions of the right to have rights shed light on right bearing in the contemporary context, and in particular on concepts and relationships central to the protection of human rights in public international law? Secondly, given these competing conceptions, how is the right to have rights to be understood in the context of public international law? In the course of the analysis, the author examines the significance and limits of nationality, citizenship, humanity and politics for right bearing, and argues that their complex interrelation points to how the right to have rights might be rearticulated for the purposes of international legal thought and practice.

Contents [pdf]


1: The Right to Have Rights as a 'Place in the World'
2: The Right to Have Rights as Nationality
3: The Right to Have Rights as Citizenship
4: The Right to Have Rights as Humanity
5: The Right to Have Rights as the Politics of Human Rights


Alison Kesby is a Research Fellow in public international law at St John's College, Cambridge.

Review in FT of Habermas's book on Europe

In "Financial Times" (April 7, 2012), Tony Barber reviews Jürgen Habermas's latest book "The Crisis of the European Union" (Polity Press, 2012):

Review: Continental drift - Europe’s integration has failed to engage its public

"Habermas denounces German politicians for failing to seize the debt crisis to inspire voters with a vision of European unity. He dismisses Angela Merkel as “a hard-nosed lobbyist” for German national interests with one eye fixed on poll ratings. “Popular opinion established by opinion polls is not the same thing as the outcome of a public deliberative process leading to the formation of a democratic will,” he comments acidly.
Some of these criticisms seem harsh. After all, Merkel and her government have kept the euro alive and defended the cause of European unity. Still, in pinpointing the lack of democratic participation, Habermas builds a case that Europe’s leaders will sooner or later have to answer."

Habermas's book was published last year in German: "Zur Verfassung Europas" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2011).

See my post on the book here - and links to reviews here.