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].

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