Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New book by Dworkin: "Justice for Hedgehogs"

Justice for Hedgehogs

by Ronald Dworkin

(Belknap Press, January 2011)

528 pages


The fox knows many things, the Greeks said, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. In his most comprehensive work Ronald Dworkin argues that value in all its forms is one big thing: that what truth is, life means, morality requires, and justice demands are different aspects of the same large question. He develops original theories on a great variety of issues very rarely considered in the same book: moral skepticism, literary, artistic, and historical interpretation, free will, ancient moral theory, being good and living well, liberty, equality, and law among many other topics. What we think about any one of these must stand up, eventually, to any argument we find compelling about the rest.

Skepticism in all its forms — philosophical, cynical, or post-modern — threatens that unity. The Galilean revolution once made the theological world of value safe for science. But the new republic gradually became a new empire: the modern philosophers inflated the methods of physics into a totalitarian theory of everything. They invaded and occupied all the honorifics — reality, truth, fact, ground, meaning, knowledge, and being — and dictated the terms on which other bodies of thought might aspire to them, and skepticism has been the inevitable result. We need a new revolution. We must make the world of science safe for value.


1. Baedeker

Part one: Independence

2. Truth in Morals
3. External Skepticism [draft]
4. Morals and Causes [draft]
5. Internal Skepticism

Part two: Interpretation

6. Moral Responsibility
7. Interpretation in General.
8. Conceptual Interpretation

Part three: Ethics

9. Dignity [excerpt]
10. Free Will and Responsibility

Part four: Morality

11. From Dignity to Morality
12. Aid
13. Harm
14. Obligations [draft]

Part five: Politics

15. Political Rights and Concepts
16. Equality
17. Liberty
18. Democracy
19. Law [draft]

Epilogue. Dignity indivisible.

Boston University Law Review (vol. 90 no. 2, April 2010) brings a number of papers on Dworkin's book, including papers by Thomas Scanlon, Amartya Sen, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Frank I. Michelman, and Jeremy Waldron and a response from Ronald Dworkin. The papers are from a symposium on "Justice for Hedgehogs", September 25-26, 2009, at Boston University School of Law. Videos from the symposium can be found here!

Various drafts have circulated. Excerpts are available here & here.

Ronald Dworkin is Professor of Philosophy at New York University.

An excerpt from Chapter 9 on ethics (pp. 191-199) has been published in "The New York Review of Books" (February 10, 2011), entitled "What Is a Good Life?".

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Three new papers by Jeremy Waldron

Professor Jeremy Waldron has posted three new papers on SSRN:

(1) Constitutionalism: A Skeptical View

This paper examines the ideology that goes by the name of "constitutionalism." The first part of the paper considers the significance of "written constitutions" The second part of the paper casts a skeptical eye at conceptions of constitutionalisim that emphasize "limited" government. Once "limited government" is contrasted carefully with "restrained government" (restraints upon specific actions by government) and with "controlled government" (e.g. insistence upon democratic control), we see that the association of constitutionalism with general limitations on the scope of government ought to make it a much more controversial ideal than the general anodyne acceptance of the term "constitutionalism" might lead us to expect. Finally, the anti-democratic implications of constitutionalism are explored. The paper argues that, by insisting on limited government, constitutionalism downplays the important role that constitutions have to perform in the modern world in establishing and securing specifically democratic authority.

(2) Secularism and the Limits of Community

This paper addresses two issues: (1) the use of religious considerations in social and political argument; and (2) the validation of the claims of community against markets and other aspects of globalization. It argues that we should be very wary of the association of (1) with (2), and the use of (1) to reinforce (2). The claims of community in the modern world are often exclusionary (the word commonly associated with community is "gated") and hostile to the rights of the poor, the homeless, the outcast, and so on. The logic of community in the modern world is a logic that reinforces market exclusion and the disparagement of the claims of the poor. If religious considerations are to be used to uphold those claims and to mitigate exclusion, they need to be oriented directly to that task, and to be pursued in ways that by-pass the antithetical claims of community. Religious considerations are at their most powerful in politics - and are most usefully disconcerting - when they challenge the logic of community.

(3) Persons, Community, and the Image of God in Rawls’s Brief Inquiry

The idea that humans are created in the image of God – imago dei – is an idea that John Rawls deployed in “A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith,” his undergraduate senior thesis from 1942, published last year in a well-received volume edited by Thomas Nagel. Usually when talk of the image of God is in the air, emphasis is being put on the individual: the individual human person, created in the image of God, commands a certain respect and must not be used, violated, or desecrated – not even for the sake of the greater good of a community to which he or she belongs or with which he or she is associated. But in Rawls’s dissertation it is community that is said to be created in the image of God; the individual human in his or her own right is not dignified directly under these auspices. The community is dignified with the image of God, but because God Himself is a community, on the theology that Rawls is using: God is “perfect community within Himself,” as Rawls puts it, “being three persons in one as the doctrine of the Trinity states.” In this paper, I criticize the young Rawls’s use of this communal image argument. In their introduction to “Brief Inquiry” Tom Nagel and Joshua Cohen say that Rawls’s communal image argument is compatible with (even congenial to) his later insistence in “A Theory of Justice” on taking individuals seriously (and criticizing theories like utilitarianism which fail to take seriously the distinctions between persons). I argue that Cohen and Nagel are wrong about this. I also argue that if one reflects on what I call “the circumstances of (human) community,” one will see that nothing but confusion follows from any analogy (even an idealizing analogy) between human community and whatever community exists in the “social Trinity.”

Jeremy Waldron is University Professor at New York University School of Law.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Habermas on Rawls's senior thesis on religion (part 2)

Jürgen Habermas has written an afterword to the German translation of John Rawls's senior thesis from 1942, "A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith" (Harvard University Press, 2009).

The afterword is now available in English:

"The ‘Good Life’— A ‘Detestable Phrase’: The Significance of the Young Rawls's Religious Ethics for His Political Theory"
European Journal of Philosophy vol. 18 no. 3 (2010) pp. 443-453.

"I will limit myself here to four observations. (1) This confident work, which is strikingly mature for a twenty-one-year-old, merits interest in the first instance as a surprising biographical testimony concerning the work and personality of the most important political theorist of the twentieth century. (2) The philosophical substance of the senior thesis consists in a religious ethics which already exhibits all of the essential features of an egalitarian and universalistic ethics of duty tailored to the absolute worth of the individual. (3) At the same time the posthumous insight into the biographical sources of the author's work offers an outstanding example of the philosophical translation of religious motives. It is as if one were examining the religious roots of a deontological morality based on reason alone under a magnifying glass. (4) The student's senior thesis also foreshadows his later recognition that the secularisation of state power must not be confused with the secularisation of civil society. Rawls owes his unique standing in the sicial contract tradition to the systematic attention he devotes to religious and metaphysical pluralism."

"Here we already encounter the characteristic linkage of an uncompromising individualism of a responsible conduct of life with the unreserved egalitarian inclusion of all individuals in the social network of reciprocal relations of recognition."

"An egalitarian universalism is implicit in the powerful image of the Last Judgement when God will perform the paradoxical task of pronouncing a differentiated, at once just but merciful (and ultimately redemptive) judgement on the actions and omissions of each person in the light of his or her individual life history. The young Rawl's sensitivity to violations of egalitarianism is reflected in the elevated position that pride assumes in his catalogue of vices."

"Rawls [....] rejects social self-aggrandisement, the meritocratic "pride" in one's own achievement. This pride poses a treat to the reciprocal recognition of the equal dignity of each individual when someone insists on having praiseworthy achievements attributed to himself as qualifications for being regarded as a superior person. Even when success can be attributed to one's own accomplishments, they in turn required talents and abilities. Regardless of whether a creator God or the lottery of nature decides how such resources are distributed, the beneficiaries may not impute the fact that they can draw upon such a potential to themselves as their own merit.[....] The fact that certain individuals and not others can be classified as a functional "elite" based on success and achievement does not justify any difference in the kind of respect and treatment we owe to equal dignity of each person.
The Christian belief in the existence of a unique God before whom all human beings are equal implies, in addition to the egalitarian notion of the absolute worth of each person, the all-inclusiveness of the covenant between God and his people. The young Rawls defends this universalism against what he denounces as the contemporary phenomena of an ethnocentric closing off from others. In the exclusion or oppression of incriminated races and classes, foreign religions, peoples and cultures (195ff), he recognises a generalized "egotism" raised to the collective level: "The development of the closed group has been a distinctive factor in Western civilization. Closed groups are now tearing that civilization to pieces" (p. 197). Just a few years after he wrote his senior thesis, egalitarian universalism would find a historically new expression in international law in the shape of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In contrasts to the Christian community of believers, a legal community can no longer rely upon the ethics of brotherly love but must be founded instead on the legal implementation of rationally justified moral principles which are acceptable to secular and religious citizens alike.

"The history of John Rawls's work exhibits a philosophical reshaping of religious ideas comparable to that undertaken by Kant. The principal features of the religious ethics of community could be sublimated into secular deontology because the triadic pattern of relations we find in monotheistic communities remains intact in the "kingdom of ends" - that is, in the universal community of moral persons who submit to self-legislated moral laws in the light of practical reason. In this case, members do not stand in a direct relation to each other either. Instead all interpersonal relations are mediated by the relation of each to the authority of an impartial "third", namely that of the moral law. The relation of the individual to the single transcendent and unifying God is now replaced by the moral point of view from which all autonomous actors deliberate equally on how they shall behave in the cases of conflict."

"Transcendence no longer breaks into the world from beyond but operates in the world as an idealizing and norm-generating force which transcends all natural processes in the world from within. [....] the triadic structure of the community of morally responsible persons remains unaffected by the transition from religious to rational morality. In "The Theory of Justice" the transcendence sublimated into the moral point of view is embodied in the "original position". This is Rawls's term for the situation of deliberation concerning the correct conception of justice. This situation is determined by equal restrictions on information and equal roles and endowments of the parties involved and is thereby structured in such a way "that the principles that would be chosen, whatever they turn out to be, are acceptable from a moral point of view."

See my previous posts on Jürgen Habermas's afterword and on John Rawls's book on religion.

Monday, December 06, 2010

New introduction to John Rawls

Rawls - An Introduction

by Sebastiano Maffettone

(Polity Press, 2010)

388 pages


Rawls: An Introduction is a uniquely comprehensive introduction to the work of the American philosopher John Rawls (1921-2002), who transformed contemporary political philosophy. In the 1950s and 1960s, political philosophy seemed to have reached a dead end characterized by a loose predominance of utilitarian theses. Rawls’s conception of liberalism placed civil liberties and social justice at its core, and his extraordinary influence has only been confirmed by the extent of the criticism he has provoked.

The book is divided into three parts which correspond to Rawls’s three major books - "The Theory of Justice" (1971), "Political Liberalism" (1993), and "The Law of Peoples" (1999).

Contents [Preview]

1. Introduction
2. The Theory
3. The First Principle of Justice
4. The Second Principle of Justice
5. The Original Position
6. Reflexive Equilibrium
7. Main Criticisms of Rawls
8. From "A Theory of Justice" to "Political Liberalism"
9. Introducting "Political Liberalism"
10. The State of the Problem
11. Overlapping Consensus and Public Reason
12. "The Law of Peoples"

Sebastiano Maffettone is Professor of Political Philosophy at LUISS University, Rome.


"John Rawls was the leading political philosopher of the past century. In this illuminating book, Sebastiano Maffettone gives us a complete, coherent, and compelling picture of Rawls′s leading ideas: his liberal–egalitarian theory of justice, his ideas about legitimacy in a pluralistic democracy, and his account of the moral basis of global politics. Maffettone understands that the focus of Rawls′s work shifted, but he sees the deeper continuities in Rawls′s emphasis on the priority of the right and his distinction between the justice of a society and its capacity to elicit the willing support of its members. The book casts a powerful light on Rawls′s work, both clarifying his ideas and explaining their plausibility." Joshua Cohen, Stanford University.

"This is for its size the best introduction to all of Rawls′s major works available. It is also a significant work of scholarship in its own right, with an especially strong emphasis on the continuity of Rawls′s thought. Maffettone′s acumen, expertise and dedication to his subject are in evidence on every page." Leif Wenar, King′s College London.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Conference: Between Rawls and Religion

Conference December 16-18, 2010
at LUISS ‘Guido Carli’ University and John Cabot University, Rome

Between Rawls and Religion: Liberalism in a Post-Secular World

Under the auspices of the International Research Network on Religion and Democracy (IRNRD).

The programme includes:

Maeve Cooke (Dublin)
Violating Neutrality? Religious Validity Claims and Democratic Legitimacy

Christopher Eberle (US Naval Academy)
Religion, Respect and War

Peter Jonkers (Tilburg)
Religion and Rawls: A Catholic Perspective on Rawls’ Ideas of Public Reason and Truth

Patrick Loobuyck (Antwerp)
Religious Arguments in the Public Sphere: Comparing Habermas with Rawls

Andrew Lister (Quenn's, Canada)
Public Reason and Religious Freedom

Andrew March (Yale)
Reasonable Pluralism without the Burdens of Judgment? Explaining Disbelief in Islamic Ethics

David Rasmussen (Boston College)
Accommodating Pluralism: Maffettone on the Later Rawls

Mark Rosen (Chicago-Kent College)
Why (and to What Extent) Political Liberalism Should Accommodate Perfectionist Religious Groups

Robert Talisse (Vanderbilt)
Justificatory Liberalism and Eberle’s Agapic Pacifist

Johannes Van Der Ven (Nijmegen)
In Due Time: Rawls on Religion in the Public Arena

Paul Weithman (Notre Dame)
Religion, Citizenship and Obligation

Theo de Wit (Tilburg)
The Two Faces of Liberalism: Gray vs Rawls on Religious Toleration

See the complete programme here [pdf]

Friday, December 03, 2010

Essays on Pippin & Hegel's Practical Philosophy

From "Inquiry - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy" (October, 2010):

Hegel on Political Philosophy and Political Actuality [pdf]
Robert Pippin

Violence and Historical Learning: Thinking with Robert Pippin's Hegel [pdf]
Richard T. Peterson

Is Hegel a Republican? Pippin, Recognition, and Domination in the Philosophy of Right [pdf]
James Bohman

Recognition and the Resurgence of Intentional Agency [pdf]
Hans-Herbert Kögler

Recognition Within the Limits of Reason: Remarks on Pippin's Hegel's Practical Philosophy [pdf]
David Ingram

Pippin's Hegel on Action [pdf]
Theodore R. Schatzki

Response to Critics [pdf]
Robert Pippin

See Robert Pippin's "Hegel’s Practical Philosophy: Rational Agency as Ethical Life" (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Robert Pippin is the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Distinguished Service Professor of Social Thought, Philosophy, and in the College at the University of Chicago.

(All pdf-files are available on Robert Pippin's website).

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Cosmopolitanism Reader

The Cosmopolitanism Reader

Ed. by Garrett Wallace Brown & David Held

(Polity Press, 2010)

488 pages


The world is becoming deeply interconnected, whereby actions in one part of the world can have profound repercussions elsewhere. In a world of overlapping communities of fate, there has been a renewed enthusiasm for thinking about what it is that human beings have in common, and to explore the ethical basis of this. This has led to a renewed interest in examining the normative principles that might underpin efforts to resolve global collective action problems and to ameliorate serious global risks. This project can be referred to as the project of cosmopolitanism.

In response to this renewed cosmopolitan enthusiasm, this volume has brought together 25 seminal essays in the development of cosmopolitan thought by some of the world's most distinguished cosmopolitan thinkers and critics. It is divided into six sections: classical cosmopolitanism, global justice, culture and cosmopolitanism, political cosmopolitanism, cosmopolitan global governance and critical examinations. This volume thus provides a thorough and extensive introduction to contemporary cosmopolitan thought and acts as a definitive source for those interested in cosmopolitan thinking and its critics.

Contents [Preview here]

Editors Introduction
Garrett Wallace Brown & David Held

I. Kant and Contemporary Cosmopolitanism

Idea of a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose
Immanuel Kant

Kant and Cosmopolitanism
Martha C. Nussbaum

Kant's Cosmopolitanism
Garrett Wallace Brown

A Kantian Approach to Transnational Justice
Onora O'Neill

II. Cosmopolitan Global Justice

Justice and International Relations [Abstract]
Charles R. Beitz

International Society from a Cosmopolitan Perspective
Brian Barry

Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty [Abstract]
Thomas Pogge

International Distributive Justice [pdf]
Simon Caney

III. Cosmopolitanism, Nationality, States and Culture

Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism
Martha C. Nussbaum

What is Cosmopolitan? [Abstract]
Jeremy Waldron

Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism [Abstract]
Kok-Chor Tan

Global Distributive Justice and the State [Abstract]
Simon Caney

IV. Cosmopolitan Politics

The Cosmopolitan Manifesto
Ulrich Beck

Principles of Cosmopolitan Order
David Held

Moving from Cosmopolitan Legal Theory to Legal Practice
Garrett Wallace Brown

A Political Constitution for the Pluralist World Society? [pdf]
Jürgen Habermas

V. Cosmopolitanism, Global Issues and Governance

Reframing Global Governance: Apocalypse Soon or Reform!
David Held

The Architecture of Cosmopolitan Democracy
Daniele Archibugi

Humanitarian Intervention: Toward a Cosmopolitan Approach
Mary Kaldor

The Environment, Global Justice and World Environmental Citizenship
Patrick Hayden

VI. Cosmopolitan Examinations and Critiques

Cosmopolitanism [pdf]
David Miller

The Problem of Global Justice [pdf]
Thomas Nagel

On Cosmopolitanism
Jacques Derrida

Can International Organizations be Democratic? A Skeptics View [Abstract]
Robert A. Dahl

Citizenship in an Era of Globalization [Abstract]
Will Kymlicka

A Comprehensive Overview of Cosmopolitan Literature
Garrett Wallace Brown & Megan Kime

Garrett Wallace Brown is Senior Lecturer, the Departement of Politics, University of Sheffield. He is the author of "Grounding Cosmopolitanism: From Kant to the Idea of a Cosmopolitan Constitution" (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009).

David Held is Graham Wallas Professor of Political Science, and Co-Director at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics. His books include "Models of Democracy" (Polity Press, 1987, 3ed. 2006) and "Cosmopolitanism: Ideals, Realities and Deficits" (Polity Press, 2010).

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

New book on Contractualism and Morality

Contractualism and the Foundations of Morality

by Nicholas Southwood

(Oxford University Press, 2010)

216 pages


Contractualism has a venerable history and considerable appeal. Yet as an account of the foundations or ultimate grounds of morality it has been thought by many philosophers to be subject to fatal objections. In this book Nicholas Southwood argues otherwise. Beginning by detailing and diagnosing the shortcomings of the existing "Hobbesian" and "Kantian" models of contractualism, he then proposes a novel "deliberative" model, based on an interpersonal, deliberative conception of practical reason. He argues that the deliberative model of contractualism represents an attractive alternative to its more familiar rivals and that it has the resources to offer a more compelling account of morality's foundations, one that does justice to the twin demands of moral accuracy and explanatory adequacy.


1: Introduction [pdf]
2: The Limits of Hobbesian Contractualism
3: The Limits of Kantian Contractualism
4: The Structure of Deliberative Contractualism
5: The Normativity of Deliberative Contractualism
6: Getting Morality Right
7: Grounding Morality

Nicholas Southwood is a junior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and an assistant professor in the Philosophy Program in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Martha Nussbaum among Top 100 Global Thinkers

Professor Martha Nussbaum (Chicago) is listed by the Foreign Policy magazine amongst the Top 100 Global Thinkers.

"These are perilous times for liberal humanists like philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who find their craft besieged from all sides: by metrics-minded education reformers, by pundits and politicians fretting about U.S. competitiveness in the sciences and engineering, by university administrators faced with budget cuts and shrinking endowments, wondering whether they really need that historian of early Guatemalan kilns on the payroll.

Nussbaum, an eclectic scholar whose last book explored the theme of disgust as it related to the gay-marriage debate, thinks that they do. The liberal arts, Nussbaum argues in her latest book, Not for Profit, are essential to the development of empathy, tolerance, and critical thinking, traits and skills that don't translate easily into numbers but that are crucial for society. In the rush to retool the American education system in the image of an ever-more-cutthroat global economy, she worries, "values precious for the future of democracy … are in danger of getting lost.""

Martha Nussbaum is Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. Her latest book is "Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities" (Princeton University Press, 2010). See my post here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rainer Forst on Human Rights and Religion

In "Frankfurter Rundschau" (November 25, 2010), Professor Rainer Forst writes about human rights and religion:

"Der aufrechte Gang" [Walking upright]

"Menschenrechte drücken Ansprüche aus, die kein Mensch anderen verweigern darf, wenn er sie als Personen anerkennt, die ein Recht darauf haben, nicht unterdrückt und illegitim beherrscht zu werden. Sie sind als Einsprüche gegen „unmenschliche“ und die „Menschenwürde“ verletzende Politiken und Herrschaftsstrukturen entstanden, und ihr ursprünglicher Sinn ist ein emanzipatorischer. Die Menschen-rechte haben den moralisch-politischen Sinn, Menschen das zu ermöglichen, was Ernst Bloch den „aufrechten Gang“ nannte."

"Der Universalismus ist zwar älter als das Christentum, denkt man etwa an die Lehren der Stoa, aber die vom Christentum geprägte politische Geschichte Europas stellt in der Tat den Kontext der Entwicklung der Menschenrechtsidee dar. Dabei aber muss man sehen, dass die heute oft vertretene Überzeugung, die Menschen-rechte seien eine „Errungenschaft“ des Christentums, irreführend ist. Sie waren eine Errungenschaft innerhalb des Christentums und zwar in der Regel gegen die herrschende Lehre. [......] Um es ganz verkürzt zu sagen, mussten die Dissidenten, die sich gegen eine „gottgewollte“ und religiös legitimierte Feudalherrschaft stellten, zunächst gewaltige hermeneutische und polemische Kraft aufwenden, um aus dem göttlichen Naturrecht von Gott gegebene Freiheitsrechte zu machen, um aus der Sorge um die Seele und den rechten Glauben die Gewissens- und Religionsfreiheit zu generieren und um die Idee der Gottesebenbildlichkeit so zu deuten, dass aus ihr eine Unantastbarkeit auch des Anders- und Ungläubigen wurde."

"Die Menschenrechte sprechen eine verbindliche Sprache der Moral, die sich partikular entwickelt hat; sie drücken zugleich aber auch eine allgemeine Wahrheit aus. Solange das Unrecht eine bestimmte Struktur hat, die überall auf der Welt angeprangert werden muss, solange muss auch die Moral eine solche haben. Niemand will in einer Welt leben, in der man erst eine heilige Schrift konsultieren muss, um herauszufinden, was moralisch richtig oder falsch ist."

Rainer Forst is Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main. His books include "Kontexte der Gerechtigkeit" (1994) [English: "Contexts of Justice" (2002)], "Toleranz im Konflikt" (2003) and "Das Recht auf Rechtfertigung. Elemente einer konstruktivistischen Theorie der Gerechtigkeit" (2007) [An English translation is coming out on Columbia University Press.]

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Michael Walzer on Global and Local Justice (Video)

On November 16, Professor Michael Walzer gave a lecture at the NYU School of Law on:

Global and Local Justice
(Video; 1 hour 15 minutes)

Michael Walzer is co-editor of "Dissent". His books include "Just and Unjust Wars" (Basic Books, 1977), "Spheres of Justice" (Basic Books, 1983), "Interpretation and Social Criticism" (Harvard University Press, 1987), and "Thick and Thin: Moral Argument at Home and Abroad" (University of Notre Dame Press, 1994).

During academic year 2010/2011, Professor Walzer will be a Fellow of the newly established Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law & Justice at the New York University School of Law.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Recent journal articles on Jürgen Habermas

A selection from journals (summer and autumn 2010):

Nation State, Capitalism, Democracy: Philosophical and Political Motives in the Thought of Jürgen Habermas
European Journal of Social Theory, vol. 13 no. 4 (2010), pp. 443-457

Rawls and Habermas on the Cosmopolitan Condition
The Philosophical Forum, vol. 41 no. 4 (2010), pp. 459–477

Communicative Reason and Religion: The Case of Habermas
Sophia, vol. 49 no. 3 (2010), pp. 343-357

Zur (Un)Übersetzbarkeit religiöser Rede. Kritische Anmerkungen zu Habermas´ neuerer Religionsphilosophie

Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung, vol. 64 no. 3 (2010), pp. 378-392

Whose Europe Is It Anyway? Habermas's New Europe and its Critics
Telos no. 152 (2010)

Zum Dialog zwischen Joseph Ratzinger und Jürgen Habermas
Analyse & Kritik, vol. 17 no. 3 (2010)

Habermas and Ratzinger on the Future of Religion
Scottish Journal of Theology, vol. 63 no. 4 (2010), pp. 456-473

Jürgen Habermas and Islamic Fundamentalism: On the Limits of Discourse Ethics
Journal of Global Ethics, vol. 6 no. 2 (2010), pp. 153-166

Habermas, Kantian Pragmatism, and Truth

Philosophy & Social Criticism, vol. 36 no. 6 (2010), pp. 677-695

See my list of articles and books on Jürgen Habermas 2009-2010 here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Frankfurt lectures on "The Nature of Normativity"

Lecture series at Frankfurt University on "The Nature of Normativity":

December 1, 2010
Professor Robert Pippin (University of Chicago)
Reason's Form

December 8, 2010
Professor Christine Korsgaard (Harvard University)
The Normative Constitution of Agency

December 15, 2010
Professor Joseph Raz (Columbia University)
Normativity: what is it and how can it be explained?

January 12, 2011
Professor Thomas M. Scanlon (Harvard University)
Metaphysical Objections to Normative Truth

January 19, 2011
Professor Robert Brandom (University of Pittsburgh)
From German Idealism to American Pragmatism – and Back

February 16, 2011
Dr. Sabina Lovibond (University of Oxford)
Practical Reason and Character-Formation

Normativity is the most everyday phenomenon. Yet it poses major problems for philosophical analysis. It everydayness can be seen from the fact that, even though we are not directly forced to do so, we regard ourselves as bound by a variety of norms, values and rules in our thought and action – for instance social conventions of politeness, a professional ethos, bonds of friendship, promises that must be kept, right up to general moral norms. Even in the case of legally binding norms, different explanations are offered of the grounds of their validity. The central question concerning normativity is: What is the source of the binding power of such norms, values and rules? Is it based on instrumental considerations, social expectations, autonomous self-commitment or on a normative reality beyond the empirical world, which may be explicable only in metaphysical terms?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Waldron on Religion and Public Deliberation

Professor Jeremy Waldron has posted a new paper on SSRN:

Two-Way Translation: The Ethics of Engaging with Religious Contributions in Public Deliberation

Using as an exemplar, the 2007 "Evangelical Declaration against Torture," this paper examines the role of religious argument in public life. The Declaration was drawn up by David Gushee, University Professor at Mercer University, and others. It argues for an absolute ban on the use of torture deploying unashamedly Christian rhetoric, some of it quite powerful and challenging. For example, it says: " [T]he Holy Spirit participates in human pathos with groans and sighs too deep for words. The cries of the tortured are in a very real sense, … the cries of the Spirit." The present paper considers whether there is any affront to the duties of political civility in arguing in these terms. There is a line of argument, associated with John Rawls's book, "Political Liberalism," suggesting that citizens should refrain from discussing issues of public policy in religious or deep-philosophical terms that are not accessible to other citizens. The present paper challenges the conception of inaccessibility on which this Rawlsian position is based. It argues, with Jurgen Habermas, that all sides in a modern pluralist society have a right to state their views as firmly and as deeply as they can, and all sides have the duty to engage with others, and to strain as well as they can to grasp others' meanings. It is not enough to simply announce that one can not understand religious reasons, especially if no good faith effort has been made, using the ample resources available in our culture, to try. Of course, many peoeple will not be convinced by the reasons that are offered in religious discourse; but to argue for their rejection - which is always what may happen in respectable political deliberation - is not to say that the presentation of those reasons was offensive or inappropriate.

(Thanks to Lawrence Solum for the pointer).

Jeremy Waldron is University Professor at New York University School of Law.

Jürgen Habermas's article on "Religion in the Public Sphere" is available here [pdf]. It is published in "European Journal of Philosophy" vol. 14, no. 1 (2006), pp. 1-25.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Essays on "Pragmatism & Democracy"

The current issue of the Italian journal "Etica & Politica" (vol. 12, no. 1, 2010) contains a series of articles under the subtitle "Pragmatism and Democracy". All the articles are available online:

Roberto Frega & Fabrizio Trifirò
Guest Editors’ Preface [pdf]

Robert Talisse
Saving Pragmatist Democratic Theory (from Itself) [pdf]

Roberto Frega
What Pragmatism Means by Public Reason [pdf]

Gideon Calder
Pragmatism, Critical Theory and Democratic Inclusion [pdf]

Fabrizio Trifirò
The Importance of Pragmatism for Liberal Democracy: an Anti-foundationalist and Deliberative Approach to Multiculturalism [pdf]

Also see my posts on Robert Talisse's book on "Democracy and Moral Conflict" (Cambridge University Press, 2009) here and here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Philosophy & Human Rights: Some Contemporary Perspectives

David A. Reidy has posted a new paper on SSRN:

"Philosophy and Human Rights: Some Contemporary Perspectives"

Forthcoming in Claudio Corradetti (ed.) - Philosophical Dimensions of Human Rights (Springer, 2011).

David A. Reidy is Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Political Science, University of Tennessee. Reidy is currently working on three books on John Rawls:
- John Rawls: A Democratic Vision for the American Tradition.
- The Cambridge Rawls Lexicon. Co-edited with Jon Mandle.
- The Blackwell Companion to Rawls. Co-edited with Jon Mandle.

See also my post on David A. Reidy's paper on "Rawls's Religion and Justice".

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Does religious pluralism require secularism?

The new issue of "The Hedgehog Review" (vol. 12 no. 3, 2010) addresses the questionDoes religious pluralism require secularism?

States, Religious Diversity, and the Crisis of Secularism
Rajeev Bhargava

The Meaning of Secularism
Charles Taylor

Rethinking Secularism
Craig Calhoun

Interview with Amartya Sen (in German)

The November issue of the German monthly "Cicero" has an interview with professor Amartya Sen:

"Hoffnung ist nicht utopisch"

Q: Ihnen gelingt es bei Ihrer Arbeit, einen sehr realistischen Blick auf die Welt zu werfen, ohne dabei das Utopische aus den Augen zu verlieren.

A: Ich glaube, dass Realismus weder das Ablehnen noch das Akzeptieren utopischer Visionen bedeutet. Vor ungefähr 30 Jahren habe ich ein Buch über den Sachverhalt geschrieben, dass Demokratien Hungersnöte verhindern. Und das, obwohl gerade mal fünf bis zehn Prozent der Bevölkerung davon betroffen sind, eine Minderheit also. Aber warum sind Demokratien dann so effektiv darin, Hungersnöte zu bekämpfen? Weil sie Informationen durch freie Medien verbreiten. Weil sich in ihnen eine Opposition bilden kann, die die Regierung unter Druck setzt. Das hat den Effekt, dass nicht nur die Betroffenen, sondern eine Mehrheit der Bevölkerung verlangt, dass es nicht zu einer Hungersnot kommen darf. Ein Resultat öffentlicher Diskussion also, nicht nur von Wahlen. Sie können die Auswirkungen eines solchen Denkens neuerdings in vielen Ländern Afrikas, Asiens und Lateinamerikas beobachten, die zu Demokratien geworden sind. Es ist also wichtig, zur Kenntnis zu nehmen, dass das, was Philosophen und Ökonomen wie ich machen, nicht irgendein utopisches Gerede ist. Zwar befindet sich in allem, was ich schreibe, ein Element der Hoffnung – aber diese Hoffnung ist keineswegs unrealistisch oder gar utopisch.

Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor at Harvard University. His latest book "The Idea of Justice" (Harvard University Press, 2009) has been published in German by Beck Verlag,"Die Idee der Gerechtigkeit" (2010).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Journal of Ethics" on G. A. Cohen

The latest issue of "Journal of Ethics" (volume 14, no. 3-4, December 2010) is devoted to the work of G. A. Cohen (1941–2009):

Editor-in-Chief’s Introduction (pdf)
J. Angelo Corlett

G. A. Cohen’s Vision of Socialism
Nicholas Vrousalis

Justice as Fairness: Luck Egalitarian, Not Rawlsian
Michael Otsuka

Relationships of Equality: A Camping Trip Revisited
Richard W. Miller

Jerry Cohen’s Why Not Socialism? Some Thoughts
John E. Roemer

Cohen’s Rescue
Jan Narveson

Fairness, Respect and the Egalitarian Ethos Revisited
Jonathan Wolff

See my previous post on G. A. Cohen here, here, here and here.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Is a Feminist Political Liberalism Possible?

From Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (October 2010):

"Is a Feminist Political Liberalism Possible?"

by Christie Hartley & Lori Watson

"Is a feminist political liberalism possible? Political liberalism’s regard for a wide range of comprehensive doctrines as reasonable makes some feminists skeptical of its ability to address sex inequality. Indeed, some feminists claim that political liberalism maintains its position as a political liberalism at the expense of securing substantive equality for women. We claim that political liberalism’s core commitments actually restrict all reasonable political conceptions of justice to those that secure genuine substantive equality for all, including women and other marginalized groups. In particular, we argue that political liberalism’s criterion of reciprocity limits reasonable political conceptions of justice to those that eliminate social conditions of domination and subordination relevant to reasonable democratic deliberation among equal citizens and that the criterion of reciprocity requires the social conditions necessary for recognition respect among persons as equal citizens. As a result, we maintain that the criterion of reciprocity limits reasonable political conceptions of justice to those that provide genuine equality for women along various dimensions of social life central to equal citizenship."

Christie Hartley is Assistant Professor at the Department of Philosophy, Georgia State University.

Lori Watson is Assistant Professor and Director of the Gender Studies Program, Department of Philosophy, University of San Diego.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Richard J. Arneson on "Luck Egalitarianism"

Forthcoming in Carl Knight and Zofia Stemplowska (eds.) - Responsibility and Distributive Justice (Oxford University Press, April 2011):

"Luck Egalitarianism - A Primer"

by Richard J. Arneson

"This essay surveys varieties of the luck egalitarian project in an exploratory spirit, seeking to identify lines of thought that are worth developing further and that might ultimately prove morally acceptable. I do not attend directly to the critics and assess their concerns; I have done that in other essays*. I do seek to identify some large fault lines, divisions in ways of approaching the task of constructing a theory of justice or of conceiving its substance. These are controversial in the sense that in the present state of discussion it is unclear how best to view them or to which side it is better to scramble. But in the end of course I’m not a moral geographer and map-maker, just an involved spectator/tourist offering yet another view of the cathedral."

*See Arneson's paper "Luck Egalitarianism Interpreted and Defended" (2006).

Richard J. Arneson is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

New book: The Idea of the Public Sphere

The Idea of the Public Sphere: A Reader

Ed. by Jostein Gripsrud et. al.

(Lexington Books, 2010)

346 pages


The notion of "the public sphere" has become increasingly central to theories and studies of democracy, media, and culture over the last few decades. It has also gained political importance in the context of the European Union's efforts to strengthen democracy, integration, and identity. The Idea of the Public Sphere offers a wide-ranging, accessible, and easy-to-use introduction to one of the most influential ideas in modern social and political thought, tracing its development from the origins of modern democracy in the Eighteenth Century to present day debates. This book brings key texts by the leading contributors in the field together in a single volume. It explores current topics such as the role of religion in public affairs, the implications of the internet for organizing public deliberation, and the transnationalisation of public issues.


Editors' Introduction

I: The Enlightenment and the Liberal Idea of the Public Sphere

Immanuel Kant: An Answer to the Question: "What is Enlightenment?"
G.W.F. Hegel: Excerpt from Philosophy of Right
J.S. Mill: Excerpt On Liberty

II: "Mass Society", Democracy and Public Opinion

Walter Lippmann: Excerpt from The Phantom Public
John Dewey: Excerpt from The Public and its Problems
Joseph Schumpeter: Excerpt from Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy
Carl Schmitt: Excerpt from The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy

III: The Public Sphere Rediscovered

Hannah Arendt: Excerpt from The Human Condition
Jürgen Habermas: "The Public Sphere: An Encyclopaedia Article"
Oskar Negt and Alexander Kluge: Excerpt from Public Sphere and Experience
Nancy Fraser: "Rethinking the Public Sphere"

IV: The Public Sphere and Models of Democracy

Jon Elster: "The Market and the Forum: Three Varieties of Political Theory"
Niklas Luhmann: "Societal Complexity and Public Opinion"
Jürgen Habermas: Excerpt from Between Facts and Norms
John Rawls: "The Idea of Public Reason Revisited"

V: Current Challenges

Bernhard Peters: "National and Transnational Public Spheres"
James Bohman: "Expanding Dialogue"
Chantal Mouffe: "Deliberative Democracy or Agonistic Pluralism?"
Seyla Benhabib: Excerpt from The Claims of Culture
Jürgen Habermas: "Religion in the Public Sphere"

Jostein Gripsrud is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. He is the author of "Understanding Media Culture" (Oxford University Press, 2002) and co-editor of "Media, Markets and Public Spheres. European Media at the Crossroads" (The University of Chicago Press, 2010).

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Two new papers by Jeremy Waldron

Professor Jeremy Waldron has posted two new papers on SSRN:

(1) Socioeconomic Rights and Theories of Justice

This paper considers the relation between theories of justice (like John Rawls’s theory) and theories of socio-economic rights. In different ways, these two kinds of theory address much the same subject-matter. But they are quite strikingly different in format and texture. Theories of socio-economic rights defend particular line-item requirements: a right to this or that good or opportunity (e.g., housing, health care, education, social security). Theories of justice tend to involve a more integrated normative account of a society’s basic structure (though they differ considerably among themselves in their structure). So how exactly should we think about their relation? The basic claim of the paper is that we should strive to bring these two into closer relation with one another, since it is only in the context of a theory of justice that we can properly assesses the competition that arises between claims of socio-economic right and other claims on public and private resources.

(2) Toleration and Calumny: Bayle, Locke, Montesquie and Voltaire on Religious Hate Speech

[Amnesty International Lecture, Oxford, May 12, 2010]

There is a considerable literature on the issue of hate speech. And there is a considerable literature on religious toleration (both contemporary and historic). But the two have not been brought into relation with one another. In this paper, I consider how the argument for religious toleration extends beyond a requirement of non-persection and non-establishment. I consider its application to the question of religious vituperation. The focus of the paper is on 17th and 18th century theories. Locke, Bayle and other Enlightenment thinkers imagined a tolerant society as a society free of hate speech: the kind of religious peace that they envisaged was a matter of civility not just non-persecution. The paper also considers the costs of placing limits (legal or social limits) on religious hate-speech: does this interfere with the forceful expression of religious antipathy which (for some people) the acceptance of their creed requires?

See my posts on Jeremy Waldron's 2009 Holmes Lectures on hate speech here and here.

Jeremy Waldron is University Professor at New York University School of Law.

Reviews of Rawls's "Über Sünde, Glaube und Religion"

Two reviews of John Rawls's "Über Sünde, Glaube und Religion" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2010):

Marius Meller - "Eine einzige Verteidigung des Glaubens"
(Deutschlandsfunk, November 2, 2010)

Uwe Justus Wenzel - "Gewichtungen. John Rawls und die Religion"
(Neue Zürcher Zeitung, October 4, 2010)

See my previous post on the Rawls's book.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Samuel Freeman reviews Sen's "The Idea of Justice"

In "The New York Review of Books" (October 14, 2010), Professor Samuel Freeman reviews Amartya Sen's "The Idea of Justice" (Harvard University Press, 2009):

"A New Theory of Justice"
(subscription required)


"Sen is mainly concerned with adressing existing injustices. He considers Rawls's ideal theory irrelevant for his purpose: for addressing injustices in the real world, it is neither necessary nor sufficient to know what a perfectly just society is. (....) To address real-world issues, we should assess and rank in order actual, realizable states of affairs from an impartial point of view, and then choose the best alternatives according to the degree that they embody justice and other important social values. Sen says that a precondition for reliability of our choices is that we engage in public reasoning with other impartial individuals.(....)

To contend that there is no need for ideal theory suggests that we should be satisfied with the alternatives currently on offer and haven't any reason to think about long-term or extensive reforms. The Whigs had no need of John Locke's radical social contract doctrine to justify the English Revolution of 1688. But Locke's main ideas - the people are sovereign; government originates in their content; government's power is fiduciary and exercisable only for the common good; citizens have inalienable rights justifying a right of resistance when violaled - supplied the conceptual frame for our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and subsequently for many others. Whether ideal principles of justice are necessary depends upon one's aims and long-term perspective.

Even in the short term, ideal principles are often called upon to motivate people toward political reform. Consider the galvanizing effects of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. The aspirations King appealed to were grounded in political ideals and ideal principles and could not have been conveyed by focusing on practicable alternatives offered up by the status quo."

Samuel Freeman is Professor of Philosophy and Law at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of "Justice and the Social Contract. Essays on Rawlsian Political Philosophy" (Oxford University Press, 2006) and "Rawls" (Routledge, 2007). He is the editor of John Rawls's "Collected Papers" (Harvard University Press, 1999).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Habermas on Leadership and Leitkultur

In "New York Times", October 29, 2010:

Leadership and Leitkultur

by Jürgen Habermas.

"The question is this: Does participation in democratic procedures have only the functional meaning of silencing a defeated minority, or does it have the deliberative meaning of including the arguments of citizens in the democratic process of opinion- and will-formation?

The motivations underlying each of the three phenomena — the fear of immigrants, attraction to charismatic nonpoliticians and the grass-roots rebellion in Stuttgart — are different. But they meet in the cumulative effect of a growing uneasiness when faced with a self-enclosed and ever more helpless political system. The more the scope for action by national governments shrinks and the more meekly politics submits to what appear to be inevitable economic imperatives, the more people’s trust in a resigned political class diminishes.

The United States has a president with a clear-headed political vision, even if he is embattled and now meets with mixed feelings. What is needed in Europe is a revitalized political class that overcomes its own defeatism with a bit more perspective, resoluteness and cooperative spirit. Democracy depends on the belief of the people that there is some scope left for collectively shaping a challenging future."

Comments in the German press
- Jürgen Kaube in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (November 2, 2010)
- Christian Schlüter in Frankfurter Rundschau (November 4, 2010)

Charles Taylor: "How to Define Secularism"

New paper by Charles Taylor:

"How to Define Secularism" (pdf)

Presented at the Colloquium in Legal, Political and Social Philosophy, New York University School of Law.

Charles Taylor is Professor Emeritus of McGill University, Montreal. He is the author of "A Secular Age" (Harvard University Press, 2007).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New book: Dryzek on deliberative governance

Foundations and Frontiers of Deliberative Governance

by John S. Dryzek

(Oxford University Press, October 2010)

256 pages


Deliberative democracy now dominates the theory, reform, and study of democracy. Working at its cutting edges, Foundations and Frontiers of Deliberative Governance reaches from conceptual underpinnings to the key challenges faced in applications to ever-increasing ranges of problems and issues. Following a survey of the life and times of deliberative democracy, the turns it has taken, and the logic of deliberative systems, contentious foundational issues receive attention. How can deliberative legitimacy be achieved in large-scale societies where face-to-face deliberation is implausible? What can and should representation mean in such systems? What kinds of communication should be valued, and why? How can competing appeals of pluralism and consensus in democratic politics be reconciled? New concepts are developed along the way: discursive legitimacy, discursive representation, systemic tests for rhetoric in democratic communication, and several forms of meta-consensus. Particular forums (be they legislative assemblies or designed mini-publics) have an important place in deliberative democracy, but more important are macro-level deliberative systems that encompass the engagement of discourses in the public sphere as well as formal and informal institutions of governance. Deliberative democracy can be applied fruitfully in areas previously off-limits to democratic theory: networked governance, the democratization of authoritarian states, and global democracy, as well as in new ways to invigorate citizen participation. In these areas and more, deliberative democracy out-performs its competitors.


Part I: Introduction
1: Deliberative Turns (pdf)

Part II: Foundations
2: Legitimacy
3: Representation
4: Communication And Rhetoric
5: Pluralism And Meta-Consensus

Part III: Frontiers
6: Governance Networks
7: The Democratization of Authoritarian States
8: Mini-Publics and Their Macro Consequences
9: Global Politics

Part IV: Conclusion
10: Integrated Foundations and Long Frontiers

See a preview here.

John S. Dryzek is Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University. He is the author of "Discursive Democracy" (Cambridge University Press, 1990), "Deliberatice Politics and Beyond" (Oxford University Press, 2000) and "Deliberative Global Politics" (Polity Press, 2006).