Monday, December 29, 2014

New Book: Solidarity - Theory and Practice

Solidarity - Theory and Practice

Ed. by Arto Laitinen & Anne Birgitta Pessi

(Lexington Books, 2014)

376 pages


This book brings together philosophers, social psychologists and social scientists to approach contemporary social reality from the viewpoint of solidarity. It examines the nature of different kinds of solidarity and assesses the normative and explanatory potential of the concept. Various aspects of solidarity as a special emotionally and ethically responsive relation are studied: the nature of collective emotions and mutual recognition, responsiveness to others’ suffering and needs, and the nature of moral partiality included in solidarity. The evolution of norms of solidarity is examined both via the natural evolution of the human “social brain” and via the institutional changes in legal constitutions and contemporary work life.  

Contents [preview]

1. Solidarity - Theory and Practice - Arto Laitinen & Anne Birgitta Pessi
2. Solidarity - Unpacking the Social Brain - Siegwart Lindenberg
3. Collective Emotions as the ‘Glue’ of Group Solidarity - Mikko Salmela
4. Empathy and our Relations to Others - Kristen Renwick Monroe
5. Solidarity, Moral Recognition, and Communality - Simon Derpmann
6. From Recognition to Solidarity - Arto Laitinen
7. Solidarity and Work: a Reassessment - Nicholas H. Smith
8. Solidarity in Times of Crisis - Constitutional Evolution and Europe - Hauke Brunkhorst
9. National Social Models and Helping Others in the European Union - Juho Saari & Anne Birgitta Pessi
10. Solidarity and Motivations to Help Others: the Case of Finns - Arto Laitinen & Anne Birgitta Pessi
11. Solidarity in a Nordic Welfare State: the Case of Finland - Heikki Hiilamo
12. Distant Suffering, Volunteering, and Solidarity - Bente Nicolaysen

The book is based on papers presented at an international colloquium in Helsinki in 2010.

See Arto Laitinen's homepage at, where he has uploaded many of his papers and also a copy of his book on solidarity.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Rational Reconstruction as a Method of Political Theory

In "Politischer Vierteljahresschrift" (2013 no. 2):

"Rationale Rekonstruktion als Methode politischer Theorie zwischen Gesellschaftskritik und empirischer Politikwissenschaft" [pdf] by Daniel Gaus

English translation:

"Rational Reconstruction as a Method of Political Theory between Social Critique and Empirical Political Science".


"Current political theory applies the concept of reconstruction almost exclusively to methods of critique. Given this focus it is often overlooked that the concept of reconstruction also has important methodological implications regarding the empirical analysis of politics. This imbalance particularly applies to how Jürgen Habermas' discouse theory of democracy has been perceived in political theory. The aim of the article is two-fold. Firstly, it offers an interpretation of discourse theory as a contribution to a "reconstructive sociology of democracy" that goes beyond the mere purpose of critique. Secondly, it seeks to illustrate the added value of Habermas' method of rational reconstruction to the empirical analysis of politics."

See also Daniel Gaus's paper "Von der Kritik liberaler Demokratie zur Analyse deliberativer Systeme: Reflexionen zur gegenwärtigen Diskussionslage der Theorie deliberativer Demokratie" (2014).

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Critical Theory of Legal Revolutions

The current issue of "Social & Legal Studies" (December 2014) features articles on the constitutional theory of Hauke Brunkhorst and his book "Critical Theory of Legal Revolutions" (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014). [Preview of the book here.]

* "New Bearings in the Sociology of Law" [pdf] - Chris Thornhill and Emilios Christodoulidis

* "Legal Revolutions and the Sociology of Law" [abstract] - Chris Thornhill

* "World State: Brunkhorst’s ‘Cosmopolitan State’ and Varieties of Differentiation" [abstract] - Mathias Albert

* "Hauke Brunkhorst’s Critical Theory of Legal Revolutions: Some Comments on Theory Construction" [abstract] - Jürgen Habermas

* "Hauke Brunkhorst: Reflections on the Idea of Normative Progress" [abstract] - Robert Fine

* "The Cunning of Law: Remarks on Brunkhorst’s Critical Theory of Legal Revolutions" [abstract] - Cristina Lafont

* "Reply to Critics" [abstract] - Hauke Brunkhorst

Excerpts from Jürgen Habermas's article:

From the perspective of social theory, the great theoretical achievement of this pathbreaking investigation lies in the fact that it draws attention to the importance of the "papal revolution" for social evolution. [.....] The papal revolution, initiated by Gregory VII, serves Brunkhorst as the classical example of an event, which can be understood as exploiting, revitalizing and institutionalizing the transgressing egalitarian and universalistic ideas of justice contained in the living tradition of the monastic ethos. The conception of "freedom of association" formed the normative core of the new legal system, which differentiated itself from the religiopolitical complex in the course of the 12th century. The legal figure of the self-administering corporation marked the beginning of the functional differentiation of a hierarchical society, which had hitherto found its culminating point in the figure of the political ruler. As an unintented consequence of that medieval transformation, the secular state developed in the course of subsequent centuries. Following this dialectical pattern, Brunkhorst construes the Protestant Reformation and the emergence of the constitutional state as relevant stages in the evolution of law. [.....]

The theoretical appropriation of the results of legal and historical research raises questions, which I leave to the experts. In the following, I will limit myself - proceeding from a fundamental agreement with the intention and design of this fascination sketch - to a discussion of certain aspects of its theoretical construction. Above all, I will briefly deal with five questions:

1: Does the linear arrangement of the subsequent functional differentiation of the legal, the political, the economic and the educational system not draw an oversimplified (and, with regard to the legal system, somewhat misleading) picture of the thresholds, which punctuate the course of cultural and social modernization of Western societies?
2: How can we explain the dynamics of those transgressing normative ideas, which gave rise to the papal revolution, which inspired all subsequent socioevolutionary bursts, and which cultimated in creating the "Kantian mindset"? This mindset is supposed to provide a somewhat mysterious potential which inspires social evolution from the outset?
3: Does the fact that law is embedded in the context of world views mean that we have to see the pacemaker function of legal innovations as dependent on the evolution of world views? Does this mean that we need to see the evolutionary learning mechanism as located at a deeper level in society?
4: If we ascribe greater weight to the critical role of the development of world views, what is the actual importance of the ambivalent description of "post-metaphysical" thinking for a diagnosis of modern society?
5: What is the appropriate framework for a theory of social evolution, which attaches weight to the interplay between normative learning and systemic adaption?"

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Cambridge Rawls Lexicon

The Cambridge Rawls Lexicon

Ed. by Jon Mandle & David A. Reidy

(Cambridge University Press, 2014)

920 pages


John Rawls is widely regarded as one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, and his work has permanently shaped the nature and terms of moral and political philosophy, deploying a robust and specialized vocabulary that reaches beyond philosophy to political science, economics, sociology, and law. This volume is a complete and accessible guide to Rawls' vocabulary, with over 200 alphabetical encyclopaedic entries written by the world's leading Rawls scholars. From 'basic structure' to 'burdened society', from 'Sidgwick' to 'strains of commitment', and from 'Nash point' to 'natural duties', the volume covers the entirety of Rawls' central ideas and terminology, with illuminating detail and careful cross-referencing. It will be an essential resource for students and scholars of Rawls, as well as for other readers in political philosophy, ethics, political science, sociology, international relations and law.

Contents [pdf]


* Advantage, mutual vs. reciprocal [pdf]

* Allocative Justice [pdf]

* Charles Beitz

* Citizen

* H. L. A. Hart

* Sovereignty 

* Thin and Full Theory of Goodness [pdf]

* Index [pdf]

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Book by Claus Offe: "Europe Entrapped"

Europe Entrapped

by Claus Offe

(Wiley / Polity Press, 2014)

104 pages


Today Europe finds itself in a crisis that casts a dark shadow over an entire generation. The seriousness of the crisis stems from one core political contradiction at the heart of the European project: namely, that what urgently needs to be done is also extremely unpopular and therefore virtually impossible to do democratically. What must be done - and almost everyone agrees in principle on the measures that would be needed to deal with the financial crisis - cannot be sold to the voting public of the core member states, which so far have been less affected by the crisis than those on the periphery, nor can the conditions that core members try to impose be easily sold to voters in the deficit countries.

The European Union is therefore becoming increasingly disunited, with deepening divides between the German-dominated ‘core’ and the southern ‘periphery’, between the winners and the losers of the common currency, between the advocates of greater integration and the anti-Europeans, between the technocrats and the populists. Europe finds itself trapped by the deepening divisions that are opening up across the Continent, obstructing its ability to deal with a crisis that has already caused massive social suffering in the countries of the European periphery and is threatening to derail the very project of the European Union.


Introduction [preview]

Democratic Capitalism and The European Union
The Nature of the Crisis
Growth, Debt, and Doom Loops
No Return to Square One
In Search of Political Agency
Finalitées: Bases of Identification with European Integration as a Political Project
The Configuration of Political Forces and Preferences
Germany's Leadership Role for Europe: A Non-Starter
"Thin" Citizenship
Redistribution Across State Borders and Social Divides

Claus Offe is Professor of Political Sociology at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.

The book draws upon an article published in the European Law Review vol. 19 no. 5 (2013) pp. 595-611 [Abstract]. Originally published in German in Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 2013 no. 1, titled "Europa in der Falle" (An English translation here).

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Habermas on Philosophy and Politics (video)

Jürgen Habermas's speech at a symposium in honour of Julian Nida-Rümelin, Nymphenburg Palace, Munich, November 28, 2014:

"Zum Verhältnis von Philosophie und Politik"

See also the discussion between Julian Nida-Rümelin, Rainer Forst and Jürgen Habermas on  "Philosophie, Politik und die Frage der Rechtfertigung“.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

New Book on G. A. Cohen's Egalitarianism

Distributive Justice and Access to Advantage
G. A. Cohen's Egalitarianism

Edited by Alexander Kaufman

(Cambridge University Press, 2014)

286 pages


G. A. Cohen was one of the world's leading political theorists. He was noted, in particular, for his contributions to the literature of egalitarian justice. Cohen's classic writings offer one of the most influential responses to the currency of the egalitarian justice question – the question, that is, of whether egalitarians should seek to equalize welfare, resources, opportunity, or some other indicator of well-being. Underlying Cohen's argument is the intuition that the purpose of egalitarianism is to eliminate disadvantage for which it is inappropriate to hold the person responsible. His argument therefore focuses on the appropriate role of considerations regarding responsibility in egalitarian judgment. This volume comprises chapters by major scholars addressing and responding both to Cohen's account of the currency of egalitarian justice and its practical implications and to Cohen's arguments regarding the appropriate form of justificatory arguments about justice.

Contents [pdf] [preview]

Introduction [pdf] - Alexander Kaufman

Part I. Justice and Justification

1. The Fundamental Disagreement between Luck Egalitarians and Relational Egalitarians [pdf] - Elizabeth Anderson
2. Justice, Interpersonal Morality, and Luck Egalitarianism - Peter Vallentyne
3. The Egalitarian Ethos as a Social Mechanism - Joseph H. Carens
4. Justice and the Crooked Wood of Human Nature [pdf] - Adam Cureton
5. Facts, Principles, and the Third Man [pdf] - Lea Ypi

Part II. Justice and Equality

6. Equality and Freedom: Cohen's Critique of Sen - Alexander Kaufman
7. The Incoherence of Luck Egalitarianism - David Miller
8. What is the Point of Egalitarian Social Relationships? - Patrick Tomlin
9. Basic Equality and the Currency of Egalitarian Justice - Gabriel Wollner

Part III. Equality and Society

10. Why not Capitalism? - Richard J. Arneson
11. The Labor Theory of Justice [video] - Chandran Kukathas
12. Rescuing Justice and Equality from Libertarianism [abstract] - Serena Olsaretti

Alexander Kaufman is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia. He is editor of "Capabilities Equality: Basic Issues and Problems" (Routledge, 2005).

See some of my previous posts on G.A. Cohen:
- G.A. Cohen (1941-2009)
- Podcasts from G.A. Cohen conference January 2009
- Cohen's book "On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice"

Monday, December 01, 2014

"Habermas und der Historische Materialismus"

Habermas und der Historische Materialismus

Hg. von Smail Rapic

(Verlag Karl Alber, 2014)

440 Seiten


Seit dem Ausbruch der Weltfinanzkrise 2008 ist die Kapitalismus-Kritik von Karl Marx und Friedrich Engels von neuem ins öffentliche Bewusstsein gerückt. Auf einer Tagung an der Universität Wuppertal haben Vertreter verschiedener Disziplinen mit Jürgen Habermas über seine Rekonstruktion des Historischen Materialismus diskutiert. Durch die Mitwirkung von Karl-Otto Apel und Agnes Heller wurden Grundfragen der Habermas’schen Kommunikationstheorie und ihre Rolle in der Geschichte des westlichen Marxismus in die Diskussion einbezogen. Was den Band von sonstigen Tagungsbänden abhebt, sind die Entgegnungen von Jürgen Habermas sowie repräsentative Ausschnitte aus der öffentlichen Diskussion.


Einleitung [pdf] - Smail Rapic 

Grußwort zur Tagung - Lambert T. Koch

I. Habermas’ kommunikationstheoretische Wende und das Erbe des Historischen Materialismus

Kontinuitäten und Diskontinuitäten in Habermas’ Auseinandersetzung mit dem Historischen Materialismus [English] - William Outhwaite

Entgegnung von Jürgen Habermas

Historischer Materialismus und Kommunikationstheorie bei Habermas - Manfred Baum

Entgegnung von Jürgen Habermas


II. Habermas’ Kommunikationstheorie im zeitgenössischen Kontext

Über Habermas: Von alten Zeiten - Ágnes Heller

Entgegnung von Jürgen Habermas

Transzendentalpragmatik: Drittes Paradigma der Ersten Philosophie - Karl-Otto Apel


III. Ökonomie und Politik

Habermas’ Kritik des Produktionsparadigmas - Ingo Elbe

Entgegnung von Jürgen Habermas

Legitimationsprobleme im Spätkapitalismus: Zur Aktualität eines Habermas’schen Textes aus dem Jahre 1973 - Smail Rapic

Entgegnung von Jürgen Habermas

Die Zivilisierung des globalen Kapitalismus und die Zukunft Europas - Stefan Müller-Doohm

Entgegnung von Jürgen Habermas


Die verdrängte Demokratie. Kommunikations- und Handlungsblockaden in einer globalisierten Welt - Regina Kreide


Entgegnung von Jürgen Habermas

IV. Moralbewusstsein und Recht

Welchen normativen Status hat das Privatrecht? - Hans-Christoph Schmidt am Busch

Entgegnung von Jürgen Habermas

Die Rückkehr des gegenständlichen Gattungswesens [pdf] - Michael Quante

Entgegnung von Jürgen Habermas


V. Die Selbstverständigung der Moderne

Ernüchterte Geschichtsphilosophie - Georg Lohmann

Entgegnung von Jürgen Habermas

Habermas and Young Hegelian Dialectics - Ernest Wolf-Gazo

Entgegnung von Jürgen Habermas

Hegel, Marx und das Subjekt der Moderne - Klaus Erich Kaehler

Entgegnung von Jürgen Habermas

Marxismus und Evolution - Hauke Brunkhorst

Entgegnung von Jürgen Habermas


Schlusswort - Jürgen Habermas