Saturday, April 26, 2014

New interview: Habermas on European integration and democracy

The current issue of "Neue Gesellschaft/Frankfurter Hefte" (2014/4) features an interview with Jürgen Habermas:

"Das eigentliche Ziel ist die Transnationalisierung der Demokratie"

The interview is conducted by Thomas Meyer.

Thanks to Burkard Kircher for the pointer!

See also the new book by Hauke Brunkhorst: "Das doppelte Gesicht Europas" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2014).

Friday, April 25, 2014

Reviews of Thomas Piketty's "Capital"

A selection of reviews of Thomas Piketty's important book "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" (Belknap Press, 2014):

"The main driver of inequality — the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth — today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past and may do so again." [An excerpt from the introduction here. And Piketty's own presentation slides here (pdf).]

Updated June 10:

* Paul Krugman (The New York Review of Books)

* Robert M. Solow (New Republic)

Daniel Shucman (Wall Street Journal)

* Branko Milanovic [pdf] (The Journal of Economic Literature)

Robert Rowthorn [pdf] (University of Cambridge)

* Robert Skidelsky (Prospect)

* Clive Crook (Bloomberg)

* Steven Pearlstein (Washington Post)

James Pethokoukis (National Review)

* Michael Tanner (National Review)

James K. Galbraith (Dissent)

* Robert Paul Wolff (The Philosopher's Stone)

* Nick Pearce (New Statesman)

Will Hutton (The Observer)

* Robert J. Samuelson (Washington Post)

Tyler Cowen (Foreign Affairs)

Jeff Faux (The Nation)

Paul Krugman (New York Times)

* John Cassidy (The New Yorker)

* Justin Fox (Harvard Business Review)

Martin Wolf (Financial Times)

Jacob Hacker (The American Prospect)

Eric Alterman (The Nation)

Timothy Shenk (The Nation)

* Thomas Steinfeld (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Jedediah Purdy (Los Angeles Review of Books)

Gerald Braunberger (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

Paul Mason (Guardian)

Garett Jones (Reason)

Robert Kuttner (The American Prospect)

Brad DeLong (Washington Center for Equitable Growth)

David Smith (Sunday Times)

Kenneth Rogoff (Project Syndicate)

Heather Boushey [pdf] (Challenge Magazine)

* Mervyn King (Sunday Telegraph)

Kathleen Geier (Washington Monthly)

Cass R. Sunstein (Bloomberg)

Mike Konczal (Boston Review)

* Lawrence H. Summers (Democracy: A Journal of Ideas)

Martin Feldstein (Wall Street Journal)

Emily Eakin (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

* Thomas Frank (Salon)

* Hans-Werner Sinn (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

Stefan Homburg (Die Welt)

Stefan Homburg [pdf] [UK] (Leibniz University of Hannover)

* Dani Rodnik (Project Syndicate)

David Harvey (City University of New York)

* Debraj Ray (New York University)

Guillaume Allègre & Xavier Timbeau [pdf] (OFCE, Paris)

Alexander J. Field (Journal of Economic History)

* Randall Holcombe (The Independent Institute)

Robert J. Shiller (Project Syndicate)

* Ricardo Hausmann (Project Syndicate)

* Christel Lane (LSE Review of Books)

See also four of the many videos:

* Thomas Piketty, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Steven Durlauf

* Paul Krugman (interviewed by Bill Moyers)

Piketty answers his critics (Juncture interview)

* Chris Giles & Ferdinando Giugliano: Doubts over Piketty inequality data (Financial Times)

+ Piketty's response [pdf] to the criticism in the Financial Times.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

New Book: "Transnationalizing the Public Sphere"

Transnationalizing the Public Sphere

by Nancy Fraser et. al.

(Polity Press, 2014)

176 pages


Is Habermas’s concept of the public sphere still relevant in an age of globalization, when the transnational flows of people and information have become increasingly intensive and when the nation-state can no longer be taken granted as the natural frame for social and political debate? This is the question posed with characteristic acuity by Nancy Fraser in her influential article ‘Transnationalizing the Public Sphere?’ Challenging careless uses of the term ‘global public sphere’, Fraser raises the debate about the nature and role of the public sphere in a global age to a new level. While drawing on the richness of Habermas’s conception and remaining faithful to the spirit of critical theory, Fraser thoroughly reconstructs the concepts of inclusion, legitimacy and efficacy for our globalizing times. 

This book includes Fraser’s original article as well as specially commissioned contributions that raise searching questions about the theoretical assumptions and empirical grounds of Fraser’s argument. They are concerned with the fundamental premises of Habermas’s development of the concept of the public sphere as a normative ideal in complex societies; the significance of the fact that the public sphere emerged in modern states that were also imperial; whether ‘scaling up’ to a global public sphere means giving up on local and national publics; the role of ‘counterpublics’ in developing alternative globalization; and what inclusion might possibly mean for a global public. Fraser responds to these questions in detail in an extended reply to her critics.

Contents [preview]


1. Transnationalizing the Public Sphere - Nancy Fraser

2. Towards Transnational Democratization? - Kate Nash 

3. Time, Politics and Critique - Kimberly Hutchings

4. What and Where is the Transnationalized Public Sphere? - Nick Couldry

5. Putting the Social Back into the Transnational Public Sphere - Fuyuki Kurasawa

6. Dilemmas of Inclusion - David Owen

7. Publicity, Subjection, Critique: A Reply to My Critics - Nancy Fraser

Nancy Fraser is Professor of Political and Social Science at the New School for Social Research, NYC. She is the author of "Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory" (Polity Press, 1989), "Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange" (Verso, 2003) [co-authored with Axel Honneth] and "Scales of Justice: Reimagining Political Space in a Globalizing World" (Polity Press, 2008).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Just Freedom" - new book by Philip Pettit

Just Freedom
A Moral Compass for a Complex World

by Philip Pettit

(W.W. Norton, 2014)

288 pages


In this rigorous distillation of his political philosophy, Philip Pettit, author of the landmark work Republicanism, champions a simple standard for our most complex political judgments, offering a challenging ideal that nevertheless holds out a real prospect for social and democratic progress.
Whereas many thinkers define freedom as the absence of interference—we are left alone to do as we please—Pettit demands that in their basic life choices free persons should not even be subject to a power of interference on the part of others. This notion of freedom as non-domination offers a yardstick for gauging social and democratic progress and provides a simple, unifying standard for analyzing our most entangled political quandaries.
Pettit reaffirms the ideal, already present in the Roman Republic, of a free citizenry who enjoy equal status with one another, being individually protected by a law that they together control. After sketching a fresh history of freedom, he turns to the implications of the ideal for social, democratic, and international justice.

Contents [preview]


Part 1: The Idea of Freedom
1. The Past and Present of Freedom
2. Freedom with Depth
3. Freedom with Breath

Part 2: The Institutions of Freedom
4. Freedom and Justice
5. Freedom and Democracy
6. Freedom and Sovereignty

Appendix: An Overview of the Argument

Philip Pettit is Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University. He is the author of "Republicanism" (Oxford University Press, 1997) and "On the People's Terms. A Republican Theory and Model of Democracy" (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

See also an interview with Pettit on his new book in Prospect: "Just freedom: Philip Pettit and the republican idea of liberty" (April 23, 2014)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

An Extensive Biography of Jürgen Habermas

An extensive biography of Jürgen Habermas will be published by Suhrkamp Verlag for his 85th birthday on June 18, 2014. The biography - "Jürgen Habermas: Eine Biographie" - is written by Stefan Müller-Doohm, Professor Emeritus at Oldenburg University, who in 2003 published a biography of Theodor Adorno.

See the table of content and the preface here [pdf] Updated

See the book cover here [pdf]

And a preview here.

An English translation will be published by Polity Press.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Book on Hyperpluralism and Political Liberalism

The Democratic Horizon

Hyperpluralism and the Renewal of Political Liberalism

by Alessandro Ferrara

(Cambridge University Press, 2014)

243 pages


Alessandro Ferrara explains what he terms "the democratic horizon" - the idea that democracy is no longer simply one form of government among others, but is instead almost universally regarded as the only legitimate form of government, the horizon to which most of us look. Professor Ferrara reviews the challenges under which democracies must operate, focusing on hyperpluralism, and impresses a new twist onto the framework of political liberalism. He shows that distinguishing real democracies from imitations can be difficult, responding to this predicament by enriching readers' understanding of the spirit of democracy; clearing readers' views of pluralism from residues of ethnocentrism; and conceiving multiple versions of democratic culture, rooted in the diversity of civilizational contexts.

Contents [preview]

Introduction [pdf]

1. Reasons That Move the Imagination: Politics at Its Best
2. Democracy and Openness
3. Reflexive Pluralism and the Conjectural Turn
4. Hyperpluralism and the Multivariate Democratic Polity
5. Cuius Religio, Eius Res Publica: On Multiple Democracies
6. Multiculturalism: Negation or Completion of Liberalism?
7. Beyond the Nation: Governance and Deliberative Democracy
8. Truth, Justification and Political Liberalism


Alessandro Ferrara is Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Rome. He is the author of "Reflective Authenticity: Rethinking the Project of Modernity" (Routledge, 1998) and "The Force of the Example: Explorations in the Paradigm of Judgment" (Columbia University Press, 2008).

See also Ferrara's paper "Judging Democracy in the 21st Century: Crisis or Transformation?" (2013, pdf).

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Tributes to Dworkin in NYU Law Review

The current issue of New York University Law Review (vol. 89 no. 1, 2014) features tributes to the late Ronald Dworkin. 

See all the tributes to Dworkin here [pdf].

* Jeremy Waldron - "The Enrichment of Jurisprudence"

* Lewis A. Kornhauser - "Ronald M. Dworkin"

* Stephen Breyer - "Professor Dworkin...and the Judges"

* T. M. Scanlon - "Three Thoughts About Ronnie"

* Rebecca L. Brown - "Making Democracy Safe for Justice"

* Liam Murphy - "A Joy to Hear Him Speak"

* Robert B. Silvers - "On Ronald Dworkin"

* Thomas Nagel - "In Memoriam: Ronald M. Dworkin".

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Review of "The Critical Theory of Axel Honneth"

At "Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews" Professor Lambert Zuidervaart reviews "The Critical Theory of Axel Honneth" (Lexington Books, 2013) by Danielle Petherbridge:

Review of "The Critical Theory of Axel Honneth"

Lambert Zuidervaart is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He is the author of "Social Philosophy after Adorno" (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and co-editor of "Truth Matters: Knowledge, Politics, Ethics, Religion" (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014).

See also my post on Danielle Petherbridge (ed.) - "Axel Honneth: Critical Essays" (Brill, 2011).

Monday, April 07, 2014

Paper on Religion, Equality, and Public Reason

Professor Micah Schwartzman has posted a new paper at SSRN:

"Religion, Equality, and Public Reason"

A growing number of critics have asked whether singling out religion for special treatment is morally justifiable. In Religion Without God, Ronald Dworkin sides with those who reject the distinctiveness of religion. In this essay, I situate Dworkin’s argument within the larger debate. I then argue that his view is driven toward replacing a distinction between religious and secular commitments with one that turns on the difference between public and nonpublic values. The latter distinction is central to the idea of public reason. Although Dworkin resisted this idea, his arguments against the distinctiveness of religion lead him inexorably to some conception of it, suggesting the inevitability of a commitment to public reason for those who occupy a certain place in the debate about whether religion is special.

Micah Schwartzman is Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. 

See also his papers on 

* "Religion as a Legal Proxy" (2014)

* "What if Religion Isn't Special?" (2012).

Sunday, April 06, 2014

New Book: "Religion and Public Reason" by Junker-Kenny

Religion and Public Reason
A Comparison of the Positions of John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas and Paul Ricoeur

by Maureen Junker-Kenny

(De Gruyter, 2014)

322 pages


This book compares three approaches to public reason and to the public space accorded to religions: the liberal platform of an overlapping consensus proposed by John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas’s discourse ethical reformulation of Kant’s universalism and its realization in the public sphere, and the co-founding role which Paul Ricoeur attributes to the particular traditions that have shaped their cultures and the convictions of citizens.
The premises of their positions are analysed under four aspects: (1) the normative framework which determines the specific function of public reason; (2) their anthropologies and theories of action; (3) the dimensions of social life and its concretization in a democratic political framework; (4) the different views of religion that follow from these factors, including their understanding of the status of metaphysical and religious truth claims, and the role of religion as a practice and conviction in a pluralist society. Recent receptions and critiques in English and German are brought into conversation: philosophers and theologians discuss the scope of public reason, and the task of translation from faith traditions, as well as the role they might have in the diversity of world cultures for shaping a shared cosmopolitan horizon.

Contents [pdf]


1. Public Reason as a Neutral Mediator in Pluralist Democracies in John Rawl's Political Philosophy

2. Practical Reason in the Public Sphere: Jürgen Habermas's Rehabilitation of Religion as a Resource Within the Project of Modernity

3. Religions as Co-foundational of the Public Space in Paul Ricoeur's Hermeneutical Philosophy

Conclusion of the Comparison of the Three Positions

Maureen Junker-Kenny is Professor of Theology at Trinity College, Dublin. She is the author of "Habermas and Theology" (Bloomsbury, 2011).

Saturday, April 05, 2014

On the Habermas/Streeck Debate

The current issue of "Politische Vierteljahresschrift" (2014/1) features an article on the Habermas/Streeck debate on democracy in the EU:

Thomas Biebricher / Frieder Vogelmann:
"Die Zukunft Europas zwischen Demokratie und Kapitalismus" [pdf]

"The European Union's ongoing "crisis" has forcefully turned attention to the problematic relation between democracy and capitalism. We use the discussion between Jürgen Habermas and Wolfgang Streeck as our point of departure to demonstrate how the blind spots of the debate obstruct an analysis that is neither utopian nor resigned but tries to identify those conflicts in which citizens may at least hope to democratically unsettle both their national states and the European Union to keep them from merely complying to economies every need."

See also my posts on the Habermas/Steeck debate here and here.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Habermas at Princeton University on May 1

Jürgen Habermas will speak on “Transnationalization of Democracy: A European Experiment,” on May 1, 2014, at Princeton University. 

More information here.

Habermas will speak at Northwestern University on May 2, and at Boston College Law School on May 7.

On Habermas's lecture at Princeton:

* Jacob Donnelly in "The Daily Princetonian" (May 1)

* Peter Richter in "Süddeutsche Zeitung" (May 3)