Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Kant and the Frankfurt School (Habermas, Adorno, Forst)

A special issue of "Kantian Review" (December 2020) on "Kant and the Frankfurt School":

* "A Marxist Educated Kant: Philosophy of History in Kant and the Frankfurt School" - Hauke Brunkhorst

Abstract: "In a lecture that Habermas gave on his 90th birthday he ironically, but with serious intent, called a good Kant a sufficiently Marxist educated Kant. This dialectical Kant is the only one of the many Kants who maintains the idea of an unconditioned moral autonomy but completely within evolution, history and in the middle of societal class and other struggles. The article tries to show what Kant could have learned from his later critics to enable him to become a member of the Frankfurt School’s neo-Marxist theory of society."

* "Adorno, Kant and Enlightenment" - Deborah Cook

Abstract: "Theodor W. Adorno often made reference to Immanuel Kant’s famous essay on enlightenment. Although he denied that immaturity is self-incurred, the first section of this article will show that he adopted many of Kant’s ideas about maturity in his philosophically informed critique of monopoly conditions under late capitalism. The second section will explore Adorno’s claim that the educational system could foster maturity by encouraging critical reflection on the social conditions that have made us what we are. Finally, this article will demonstrate that Adorno links enlightenment to Kant’s idea of a realm of ends."

* "Private Autonomy and Public Autonomy: Tensions in Habermas’ Discourse Theory of Law and Politics" - Maeve Cooke

Abstract: "Habermas dialogically recasts the Kantian conception of moral autonomy. In a legal-political context, his dialogical approach has the potential to redress certain troubling features of liberal and communitarian approaches to democratic politics. Liberal approaches attach greater normative weight to negatively construed individual freedoms, which they seek to protect against the interventions of political authority. Communitarian approaches prioritize the positively construed freedoms of communal political participation, viewing legal-political institutions as a means for collective ethical self-realization. Habermas’ discourse theory of law and democracy seeks to overcome this competition between the negative and positive liberties. Doing so entails reconciling private and public autonomy at a fundamental conceptual level. This is his co-originality thesis, which seeks to show that private and public autonomy are internally connected and evenly balanced. I support his aim but argue that he fails to achieve it due to an unsatisfactory account of private autonomy. I suggest an alternative dialogical conception of autonomy as ethically self-determining agency that would enable him to establish his thesis."

* "A Frankfurter in Königsberg: Prolegomenon to any Future Non-Metaphysical Kant" - James Gordon Finlayson

Abstract: "In this article I press four different objections on [Rainer] Forst’s theory of the ‘Right to Justification’. These are (i) that the principle of justification is not well-formulated; (ii) that ‘reasonableness and reciprocity’, as these notions are used by Rawls, are not apt to support a Kantian conception of morality; (iii) that the principle of justification, as Forst understands it, gives an inadequate account of what makes actions wrong; and (iv) that, in spite of his protestations to the contrary, Forst’s account veers towards a version of moral realism that is prima facie incompatible with Kantian constructivism. I then evaluate Forst’s theory in the light of a distinction made by Sharon Street between restricted and unrestricted constructivism. I show that Forst has reason to deny that it is either the one or the other, but he is not able to show that it is both or neither. I conclude that the arguments Forst advances in support of his constructivist theory of the right to justification entail that it is a metaphysical and comprehensive conception in the relevant, Rawlsian sense. Forst’s theory of the right to justification therefore fails to fulfil one of the main stated aims."

* "Acting Irrespective of Hope" [paper] - Fabian Freyenhagen

Abstract: "Must we ascribe hope for better times to those who (take themselves to) act morally? Kant and later theorists in the Frankfurt School tradition thought we must. In this article, I disclose that it is possible – and ethical – to refrain from ascribing hope in all such cases. I draw on two key examples of acting irrespective of hope: one from a recent political context and one from the life of Jean Améry. I also suggest that, once we see that it is possible to make sense of (what I call) ‘merely expressive acts’, we can also see that the early Frankfurt School was not guilty of a performative contradiction in seeking to enlighten Enlightenment about its (self-)destructive tendencies, while rejecting the (providential) idea of progress."

* "Towards an Unfettered Critique: Adorno’s Appropriations and Transformations of Kant’s Enlightenment" - Garmon D. Iago

Abstract: "Many recent commentators have noticed how Adorno, in his late works, borrows Kant’s definition of enlightenment to define key areas of his own critical practice. These discussions, however, have failed to notice how these late borrowings present an image of Kant’s enlightenment which is diametrically opposed to his previous discussions. By tracing the development of Adorno’s engagement with Kant’s essay, I discover Adorno deliberately sublating Kant’s definition as to enable its incorporation into his own works. Further, the article will examine some problems which appear to arise for Adorno when borrowing Kant’s definition of enlightenment in his late works, which coalesce around the topics of negativism and the prospects for societal change."

* "Freedom from Autonomy: An Essay on Accountability" - Brian O’Connor

Abstract: "Neo-Kantian philosophers see accountability as a key property of autonomy, or of social freedom more broadly. Autonomy, among those theorists, is, I contend, implicitly co-conceived with responsibility, producing a quasi-juridical conception of autonomy and a limiting notion of freedom. This article criticizes the connecting of freedom with accountability on a number of grounds. First, various conceptions of autonomy not only operate without a notion of accountability, but, in fact, would be impaired by an accountability requirement. Second, the neo-Kantians are unable to defend the freedom enhancing properties that are supposedly brought about by the giving of reasons for one’s beliefs and actions. Third, the project of accountability is indifferent to personal outlooks, not because it takes a holistic perspective, but because of its interest in social convergence."

* "Habermasian Constructivism: An Alternative to the Constitutivist Argument" - Dafydd Huw Rees

Abstract: "Jürgen Habermas’ discourse theory of morality should be understood, in metaethical terms, as a constructivist theory. All constructivist theories face a Euthyphro-like dilemma arising from how they classify the constraints on their metaethical construction procedures: are they moral or non-moral? Many varieties of Kantian constructivism, such as Christine Korsgaard’s, classify the constraints as moral, albeit constitutive of human reason and agency in general. However, this constitutivist strategy is vulnerable to David Enoch’s ‘shmagency’ objection. The discourse theory of morality, by classifying the constraints on the metaethical construction procedure (principles (D) and (U)) as non-moral, can avoid this problem."

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