Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Habermas on the French election

In "Die Zeit" (April 20, 2017), an interview with Jürgen Habermas on the presidential election in France:

"Eine Umgruppierung der Kräfte ist überfällig"


ZEIT: Gibt es Hoffnungsschimmer aus der Kultur und der geistigen Tradition dieser großen Nation?

JH: Aus dem schwülen und zerflatternden Defätismus von Michel Houllebecqs Roman Unterwerfung kann man wohl kaum Trost schöpfen. Ebenso wenig aus dem makabren Schauspiel von Intellektuellen, die auf ihrer Wanderung von links nach rechts den Kompass verloren haben. Frankreich hat dem modernen Europa mit den Meistern der Aufklärung, den philosophes von Voltaire bis Rousseau, nicht nur großartige intellektuelle Gestalten beschert. Ihre Texte haben eine unabhängige und selbstkritische Denkungsart hervorgebracht, die damals auch Kant, unseren bedeutendsten und politisch unbeirrbarsten Philosophen, von Grund auf geprägt hat. Dieser leidenschaftliche, intransigente, für Moden unanfällige Geist hat sich gerade in Frankreich bis in meine Generation erhalten – und zwar, wenn ich an Pierre Bourdieu, Jacques Derrida oder Michel Foucault denke, gerade bei denen, die die Dialektik der Aufklärung durchdacht haben, ohne deren Geist zu verraten. Diese öffentlichen Stimmen fehlen heute. Aber ich bin sicher, dass die inspirierten Jüngeren dabei sind, ihre Chance zu ergreifen.

Also published in "Le Monde" (April, 20, 2017), entitled "Une rupture dans l’histoire de la République".

See also Jürgen Habermas's talk on "Which Future for Europe?" (Berlin, March 16, 2017):
* Transcript
* Video

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Scheuerman on Habermas and the Fate of Democracy

In "Boston Review" (April 12, 2017), Professor William E. Scheuerman reviews Stefan Müller-Doohm's biography of Jürgen Habermas (Polity Press, 2016):

Habermas and the Fate of Democracy


"During the last thirty years or so, as Habermas has moved from being a Marxist and left-socialist to a social democrat, he has constructively engaged with the ideas of left-liberal American thinkers such as Ronald Dworkin and John Rawls. He now speaks of the need to tame or civilize capitalism but no longer toys with the prospect of a basically different economic order. The shift has been widely noted by more radical critics. Once fashionable on the left, Habermas’s name is now sometimes met with skepticism by a younger generation for whom the recent global economic crisis underscores the need for a fundamental attack on capitalism."

"Habermas’s life-long interest in the nexus between democracy and capitalism, however, remains. [......] Against those on both left and right who seek what he views as a retrograde rolling back of globalization, Habermas wants political decision-making to be scaled up to our globalizing economy. Democracy and the welfare state not only need to catch up to globalization if they are to survive, but can only do so when reconstituted in new and more inclusionary ways beyond the nation state. He considers it a mistake to try to shore up the nation state with outdated ideas of political identity based on common ethnicity or far-reaching cultural or linguistic sameness, and he attacks nationalists and populists for doing so." (.....)

"He chides his friends on the social democratic left for pursuing economic policies barely distinguishable from those of the political right. The anti-EU backlash can be attributed precisely to that failure to recalibrate political and economic processes that has so vexed him since the 1990s, a failure exacerbated by mainstream politicians who allow populists to pose disingenuously as best able to provide economic security to voters suffering globalization’s worst consequences. In an interview with a political journal last November, Habermas reiterated his longstanding call for left-leaning parties in Europe to join arms and “go on the offensive against social inequality by embarking upon a coordinated and cross-border taming of unregulated markets.” Though sometimes vague on details, Habermas believes that only new transnational social and economic measures and regulations can extinguish populist political fires." (......)

"It [.....] seems ironic that our most impressive contemporary theorist of democracy spends so much time attacking elected leaders and other political elites for failing to take on unpopular political tasks. What about grassroots political and social movements, or a European public sphere? Why do we still see so few genuinely cross-border popular or citizen-based initiatives to reform or strengthen the EU? Habermas stylizes himself as a “radical democrat,” and has always emphasized that democracy remains principally a grassroots affair between and among active citizens who argue and debate about competing views. However, he has had relatively little to say about that part of the story." (.....)

Since the 1950s Jürgen Habermas has used his enormous intellectual and political energies to deepen democracy. Müller-Doohm occasionally seems overwhelmed by his subject. He neglects, for instance, the fascinating story of Habermas’s massive global dispersion—how his ideas have been taken up and creatively reworked by admirers and disciples. Müller-Doohm’s broad sympathies for Habermas also make him more cautious about expressing criticism. Still, he does a service in methodically outlining Habermas’s theoretical trajectory, highlighting its strengths as well as ambiguities and dead-ends. And he recounts Habermas’s activities as an outspoken public contrarian, in which Habermas has regularly confronted revanchist voices in Germany reluctant to confront the Nazi past and cramped views of national identity. While it seems unlikely that Habermas will win his battle to extend democracy beyond the nation state anytime soon, he has defined a path of intellectual and political engagement that others with similar commitments will—we can only hope—carry forward."

William E. Scheuerman is Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the Indiana University. Among his books are "Frankfurt School Perspectives on Globalization, Democracy and the Law" (Routledge, 2008) and "The Realist Case for Global Reform" (Polity Press, 2011). 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bernstein and Habermas on Pragmatism

Professor Richard J. Bernstein (The New School for Social Research, New York) held a masteclass in pragmatism at the Catholic Academy in Bavaria, Munich, March 20-22, 2017.

Jürgen Habermas participated in the discussion on March 21, 2017, on the topic "The Resurgence of Pragmatism".

See Alexander Riebel's report in "Die Tagespost" (March 24, 2017):

Wir leben in einer dunklen Zeit"

Richard Bernstein, Mara-Daria Cojocaru, and Jürgen Habermas

Monday, March 20, 2017

Habermas on "Which future for Europe?"

An English translation of Jürgen Habermas's introduction to a discussion with Emmanuel Macron and Sigmar Gabriel on the future of Europe, Berlin, March 16, 2017:

"Why The Necessary Cooperation Does Not Happen"
(Social Europe, March 20, 2017)

A German version here: "Europa neu denken" (Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik, April, 2017).

More information on the discussion here.


"European unification has remained an elite project to the present day because the political elites did not dare to involve the general public in an informed debate about alternative future scenarios. National populations will be able to recognize and decide what is in their own respective interest in the long run only when discussion of the momentous alternatives is no longer confined to academic journals – e.g. the alternatives of dismantling the euro or of returning to a currency system with restricted margins of fluctuation, or of opting for closer cooperation after all.

At any rate, other current problems that attract more public attention speak in favor of the need for Europeans to stand and act in common. It is the perception of a worsening international and global political situation that is slowly driving even the member governments of the European Council to their pain threshold and startling them out of their national narrow-mindedness. There is no secret about the crises that, at the very least, necessitate reflection on closer cooperation:
* Europe’s geopolitical situation had already been transformed by the Syrian civil war, the Ukraine crisis, and the gradual retreat of the United States from its role as a force for maintaining global order; but now that the superpower seems to be turning its back on the previously prevailing internationalist school of thought, things have become even more unpredictable for Europe. And these questions of external security have acquired even greater relevance as a result of Trump’s pressure on NATO members to step up their military contributions.
* Furthermore we will have to cope with the terrorist threat in the medium term; and Europe will have to struggle with the pressure of migration for an even longer time. Both developments clearly require Europeans to cooperate more closely.
* Finally, the change of government in the United States is leading to a split in the West not only over global trade and economic policies. Nationalist, racist, anti-Islamic, and anti-Semitic tendencies that have acquired political weight with the program and style of the new US administration are combining with authoritarian developments in Russia, Turkey, Egypt, and other countries to pose an unexpected challenge for the political and cultural self-understanding of the West. Suddenly Europe finds itself thrown back upon its own resources in the role of a defensive custodian of liberal principles (providing support to a majority of the American electorate that has been pushed to the margins).

These crisis tendencies are not the only thing impelling the EU countries to cooperate more closely. One can even understand the obstacles to closer cooperation as just as many reasons for accelerating a shift in European politics. It will become more difficult to effect such a shift the longer the unresolved crises foster right-wing populism and left-wing dissidence as regards Europe. Without an attractive and credible perspective for shaping Europe, authoritarian nationalism in member states such as Hungary and Poland will be strengthened. And unless we take a clear line, the offer of bilateral trade agreements with the US and – in the course of Brexit – with the UK will drive the European countries even farther apart." (......)

"The institutionalization of closer cooperation is what first makes it possible to exert democratic influence on the spontaneous proliferation of global networks in all directions, because politics is the only medium through which we can take deliberate measures to shape the foundations of our social life. Contrary to what the Brexit slogan suggests, we will not regain control over these foundations by retreating into national fortresses. On the contrary, politics must keep pace with the globalization that it set in motion. In view of the systemic constraints of unregulated markets and the increasing functional interdependence of a more and more integrated world society, but also in view of the spectacular options we have created – for example, of a still unmastered digital communication or of new procedures for optimizing the human organism – we must expand the spaces for possible democratic will-formation, for political action, and for legal regulation beyond national borders."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Habermas-Macron-Gabriel on "Which future for Europe?" (video)

Discussion on "Which future for Europe?" at the The Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, on March 16, 2017.
* Professor Jürgen Habermas, Germany
* Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, France 
* Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel, Germany

See an English translation of Jürgen Habermas's introduction here.

The original German version: here.

Reports on the event:

Sebastian Fischer – ”Ein ängstlicher Europäer hat schon verloren
(Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Maria Exner - ”Vertraut mir einfach
(Die Zeit)

Derek Scally - "Habermas warns on EU integration without renewed German push"
(Irish Times)

Hubertus Volmer – ”Macron will Frankreich glaubwürdig machen

Albrecht Meier – ”Gelingt dem Pro-Europäer Macron ein Erfolg wie Rutte?
(Der Tagesspiegel)

Marina Kormbaki - ”Gabriel trifft Macron: Gemeinsam mehr investieren
(Neue Presse)

Torsten Krauel - ”Zukunftsvision für Europa, in der Deutschland mehr zahlt
(Die Welt)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Karl-Otto Apel turns 95 today

In "Frankfurter Rundschau" (March 15, 2017), Michael Hesse congratulates Karl-Otto Apel on his 95th birthday:

"Du existierst"


"Es ist ein schöner Frühlingstag und der Philosoph kommt ins Erzählen. Er gräbt tief in seinen Erinnerungen, schärft seine Begriffe und präsentiert manche Anekdote. Karl-Otto Apel ist einer der ganz großen deutschen Nachkriegsphilosophen. Viele meinen, er sei neben Jürgen Habermas der bedeutendste. Wer der wirklich Größte und Beste ist, ist auch unter Philosophen eine heikle Frage. Und einig ist man nur darin, dass hier völlige Uneinigkeit herrscht. Fraglos hingegen ist, dass Apel der deutschen Philosophie einen Hauch von Übersee verpasst hat. Denn er war einer der ersten, welche die Wahrheit nicht mehr nur in knöchernen Begriffssystemen suchte, sondern sie in der lebendigen Sprache zu finden meinte. Für deutsche Denker ein klassischer Umsturzversuch. Sprachphilosophische Wende nannte man den neuen Ansatz – oder linguistic turn, wie es wohl als einer der ersten der US-Philosoph Richard Rorty tat.

Daraus erwuchs bei Apel etwas, was unter „transzendentaler Sprachpragmatik“ Eingang in die Welt der Denker fand. „Transformation der Philosophie“ lautete der Titel seiner durchschlagenden Schrift, in der er sein Denken vorstellte. Um der Philosophie einen Sinn zu geben, musste sie erst überführt werden aus den klassischen Denksystemen in eine neue, offene Welt.

Aber auch in dieser, das war und blieb Apels feste Überzeugung, gibt es einen archimedischen Punkt. Ein Letztes, hinter das wir nicht gehen können, das uns aber die Sicherheit für die Welt des Wandels und die wechselnden Werte gibt. Wir finden es, wenn wir auf die Voraussetzungen unseres Denkens und Handelns blicken. Etwa wenn einer sagt: „Du existierst nicht“ oder „Ich plädiere für Streit als Ziel der Diskurse“ geraten sie in Selbstwidersprüche, da sie den „Nicht-Existierenden“ als Existierenden ansprechen und durch das Plädoyer ja Einigkeit erstreben. Wenn es aber solche unbestreibaren Gründe gibt, lassen sich auch Prinzipien formulieren, aus denen andere Wahrheiten folgen. Das war ein echter Clou von Apel. Dieses Letzte bewahrt uns davor, dass wir offenkundigen Unsinn reden."


"1950 lernte er einen Mann aus Gummersbach kennen. „Damals habe ich promoviert und Jürgen Habermas kennengelernt.“ Sie wurden Freunde. Sie wollten die Welt verändern, sagt er. „Habermas und ich waren sehr nah beieinander in unserem politischen Denken. Wir wollten beide den Nationalismus überwinden und für Europa und eine weltbürgerliche Ordnung eintreten.“

Sie hatten ähnliche Ansätze und gingen dann doch eigene Wege: „Wir haben uns in der Tat voneinander entfernt“, erklärt Apel. Er war sich mit Habermas einig, dass das heutige Denken post-metaphysisch sein muss. Es gibt kein Zurück mehr in die Zeiten, in denen Hegel seine Systemphilosophie ausbreitete, geschweige denn in die Zeiten, in denen die Denker Gottesbeweise führten. Er entwickelte einen eigenen Ansatz. Seine Philosophie ist getragen von der Sorge um die ethische Grundlage des menschlichen Handelns. Es sollte nicht kulturellen Differenzen zum Opfer fallen, sondern universal gelten. Die ethischen Regeln werden im Diskurs festgelegt. Über Moral lässt sich reden. Menschenrechte taugen nicht zum Relativismus."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Gabriel, Macron & Habermas on the future of Europe

On March 16, Germany's Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel, the French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and Jürgen Habermas will discuss the future of Europe at a meeting at the The Hertie School of Governance, Berlin.

More information here.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Rainer Forst in Copenhagen

On March 3, 2017, Professor Rainer Forst, Goethe University Frankfurt, talks at the University of Copenhagen.

The title of Rainer Forst's lecture is "Justice After Marx."

More information here.

See also two of my previous posts on Rainer Forst's work:

* His latest book in English (together with Wendy Brown): "The Power of Tolerance" (Columbia University Press, 2014).

* "The Right to Justification. Elements of a Constructivist Theory of Justice" (Columbia University Press, 2011).

Rainer Forst's latest book in German is a collection of essays, titled "Normativität und Macht - Zur Analyse sozialer Rechtfertigungsordnungen" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2015). An excerpt here (pdf).

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Habermas on Fritz Stern

Jürgen Habermas spoke at a memorial colloquium for the German historian Fritz Stern (1926-2016) in Berlin, February 2, 2017. See my post on the event here.

Habermas's speech is published in "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" (February 8, 2017):

"Globalisierung der Diltheyschen Provinz"
[not yet available online]


"Als wir uns 1967 kennenlernten, war mir die Dissertation über den „Kulturpessimismus als Gefahr“ unbekannt; aber ich hatte „The Varieties of History“ gelesen – eine ungewöhnliche Sammlung von Texten, die Stern 1956 herausgegeben und mit einer substantiellen, im Hinblick auf seine ganze Existenz aufschlussreichen Einleitung versehen hatte. Die Auswahl versammelt Reflexionen bedeutender Historiker aus zwei Jahrhunderten, die über ihr akademisches Handwerk und den Sinn ihrer Disziplin nachdenken. Dieses philosophische Geschäft der Historik, also des Nachdenkens über die Ziele und Methoden von Geschichtsschreibung und historischer Forschung konnte zwar mit Johann Gustav Droysen und Wilhelm Dilthey zwei bedeutende Vertreter vorweisen, war aber damals in den Vereinigten Staaten ein eher idiosynkratisches, eben sehr deutsches Genre.

Interessant ist nicht nur die Tatsache, dass sich der dreißigjährige Fritz Stern auf unkonventionelle Weise mit diesem Thema befasst, sondern wie intensiv er sich in der langen Einleitung damit auseinandergesetzt hat. Diese liest sich rückblickend wie ein Programm zu dem, was aus Stern geworden ist: ein bedeutender Historiker mit einem in der persönlichen Lebensgeschichte verwurzelten Thema, das anklingt und von dem er zehrt, wenn er als Geschichtsschreiber politisch aufklärende Werke verfasst oder als amerikanischer Bürger und öffentlicher Intellektueller in dem Land, aus dem er vertrieben worden ist, eine politisch aufklärende Rolle spielt. Vielleicht ist das der Grund, warum Stern die „Varieties of History“ im Vorwort der zusammen mit Jürgen Osterhammel erweiterten Neuausgabe (München 2011) sein „Lieblingsbuch“ nennt.

Die philosophische Einleitung des jungen Historikers beginnt mit einem Blick auf die Ausdifferenzierung der Geschichte zu einer wissenschaftlichen Disziplin im Zeitalter der Aufklärung. Von Anbeginn zeichnen sich, wie Stern beobachtet, zwei widerstreitende Tendenzen ab: Einerseits etabliert sich die Geschichte als ein akademisches Fach; aber gleichzeitig entsteht das Bedürfnis einer zunehmend säkularen Gesellschaft, sich durch historische Selbstvergewisserung im Handeln zu orientieren. Kurzum, „als der Historiker sich gerade anschickte, ein akademischer Mönch zu werden, der sich mit seinen Quellen im Studierzimmer einschließt, wollte ihn seine Umwelt als Prediger haben“. Die Auswahl beginnt nicht zufällig mit Texten von Voltaire, denn Stern glaubte offensichtlich – es waren die fünfziger Jahre –, seine eigene liberale Gesinnung im Entstehungskontext des Faches selbst verankern zu können: „In ihrer betont modernen Form wuchs und blühte die Historie in einem Jahrhundert, das sich der Vernunft, der Wissenschaft und der Freiheit gewidmet hatte. Die Arbeit des Historikers stützte diese Ideen und wurde umgekehrt von ihnen gestärkt.“

Stern greift sogar hinter das achtzehnte Jahrhundert auf anthropologische Wurzeln zurück. Er ist überzeugt, dass das Interesse an Geschichte „der kognitive Ausdruck“ eines tief verwurzelten menschlichen Bedürfnisses ist, das sich spontan „mit der Geburt jedes Kindes“ regeneriere. Daher entsteht mit der Institutionalisierung des Faches eine Spannung zwischen der Spezialisierung der Forschung einerseits und der „Nähe zum Leben“ andererseits, zu der der Historiker in seiner Rolle als Geschichtsschreiber Kontakt halten soll. Diesen Antagonismus verfolgt der Autor über zweihundert Jahre. Im Gegeneinander der Verwissenschaftlichung der Disziplin und des Wunschs nach Aufklärung des Publikums entdeckt er „die Wechselwirkung zwischen den feststehenden Elementen der Geschichte – der kritischen Methode und der Quellen – und den zeitgebundenen Elementen, die in der Person des Historikers verkörpert sind“.

Damit nahm er übrigens der Gadamerschen Hermeneutik die wichtige Einsicht vorweg, dass sich der Historiker seinem Gegenstand nicht aus der Vogelperspektive nähern kann, sondern nur aus dem Horizont des eigenen Vorverständnisses. Dieses situationsabhängige Vorverständnis erklärt den eigentümlichen Modus des Veraltens oder Überlebens, das heißt Klassischwerdens geisteswissenschaftlicher Werke. Freilich kann und soll der Historiker versuchen, sich dieses Vorverständnis durch Reflexion bewusst zu machen: „Die Person des Historikers ist von Anfang bis zum Ende in sein Werk hineingewoben, und je mehr er sich dessen bewusst ist, desto klüger kann er seine Entscheidung treffen.“

Man kann die Autobiographie von Fritz Stern als eine solche selbstkritische Bewusstmachung der eigenen lebensgeschichtlichen Motive für die Wahl der Themen und für die Hintergrundprämissen seiner historischen Arbeiten verstehen. Das gilt sowohl im Hinblick auf seine Forschungen zum Ersten Weltkrieg und zur Weimarer Republik wie hinsichtlich seiner darstellenden Werke über die deutsch-jüdische Beziehung zwischen Bismarck und dem Bankier Bleichröder oder über die ideologischen Wurzeln des Nationalsozialismus.

In seinen „Erinnerungen“ legt der Historiker nicht nur Rechenschaft über ein Lebensthema ab, das für ihn zur wissenschaftlichen Herausforderung geworden ist. Das Thema war gleichzeitig eine politische Herausforderung für den Bürger und Intellektuellen. Als Amerikaner hat er im Land seiner Herkunft die für den kritischen Umgang mit der nationalsozialistischen Vergangenheit wichtige Rolle übernommen. Für uns war Fritz Stern ein Kompass, der in die richtige Richtung gewiesen hat. Aber in dem Spiegel, den er der Bundesrepublik vorgehalten hat, konnte sich jeder von uns auch blamieren – Fritz Stern hat den liberalen und den kooperativen Geist ermutigt und nicht dazu, uns in die Brust zu werfen."

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

New Book on Habermas and Giddens

Habermas and Giddens on Praxis and Modernity
A Constructive Comparison

by Craig Browne

(Anthem Press, 2017)

314 pages


"Habermas and Giddens on Modernity: A Constructive Comparison" investigates how two of the most important and influential contemporary social theorists have sought to develop the modernist visions of the constitution of society through the autonomous actions of subjects. It compares Habermas and Giddens’ conceptions of the constitution of society, interpretations of the social-structural impediments to subjects’ autonomy, and their attempts to delineate potentials for progressive social change within contemporary society.

Contents [preview]


Part I. New Paradigms and Social Theory Perspectives
1. Habermas’s New Paradigm of Critical Theory
2. Giddens’s Theory of Structuration – an Ontology of the Social

Part II. Institutionalizing Modernity: Development and Discontinuity
3. Habermas on the Institutionalizing of Modernity: Communicative Rationality, Lifeworld and System
4. Giddens on Institutionalizing Modernity: Power and Discontinuity
5. Intermediate Reflections on Social Theory Alternatives: Contrasts and Divisions

Part III. The Political and Social Constellation of Contemporary Modernity
6. Globalization, the Welfare State and Social Democracy
7. Deliberative Politics, the Democratizing of Democracy and European Cosmopolitanism


Craig Browne is a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Remembering Fritz Stern

Jürgen Habermas spoke at a memorial colloquium for the German historian Fritz Stern (1926-2016) in Berlin, February 2, 2017.

Among the participants were: Norbert Frei, Joschka Fischer, Bernhard Vogel and Jürgen Osterhammel.

Habermas's speech is published in "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeiting" (February 8, 2017): "Globalisierung der Diltheyschen Provinz".
On the event:

Michael Hesse – ”Was wird, liegt an uns” (Frankfurter Rundschau, February 4, 2017)

Patrick Bahners – ”Denk ich an Amerika” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, February 4, 2017)

Theo Sommer  "Von der Zerbrechlichkeit der Freiheit" (Die Zeit, February 7, 2017)

Interview with Norbert Frei – ”Der Zerfall des Politischen setzt sich fort” (Deutschlandsfunk, February 2, 2017) [Audio here]

Saturday, January 21, 2017

On John Rawls - Suggested Reading

Professor Leif Wenar (King's College, London) has updated his entry on John Rawls in "Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy":

"John Rawls"

Excerpt from "Further Reading":

"Beyond the texts by Rawls cited above, readers may wish to consult Rawls's lectures on Hume, Leibniz, Kant, and Hegel (LHMP) and on Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Mill, Marx, Sidgwick, and Butler (LHPP) to see how Rawls's interpretations of these authors informed his own theorizing. Reath, Herman, and Korsgaard (1997) is a collection of essays by Rawls's students on his work in the history of philosophy.

Students wanting a clear guide to A Theory of Justice may wish to read Lovett (2011), or (more advanced) Mandle (2009). Voice (2011) gives an outline-style summary of Rawls's three main books that is accessible to those with some undergraduate philosophical training. Mandle and Reidy (2014) offers an alphabetized list of short entries, from Abortion to Maximin to Wittgenstein, of important concepts, issues, influences and critics.

Freeman (2007) sets out in a single volume the historical development of Rawls's theories, as well as sympathetic elaborations of many of his central arguments. Pogge (2007) is a rigorous examination of Rawls's domestic theories, which also contains a biographical sketch and brief replies to libertarian and communitarian critics (for which see also Pogge (1989)). Maffettone (2011) and Audard (2007) are critical introductions to Rawls's three major works. Moon (2014) offers an original reinterpretation of the Rawlsian project.

Mandle and Reidy (2013) is the most important recent collection of scholarly essays, spanning a wide range of issues arising from Rawls's work. Freeman (2003) is a collection of mostly friendly articles on major themes in Rawls's domestic theories; it also contains an introductory overview of all of Rawls's work. Young (2016) is a selection of more critical articles.

Historically, the most influential volume of essays on justice as fairness has been Daniels (1975). Brooks and Nussbaum (2015) presents incisive recent articles on Rawls's political liberalism. Older collections on political liberalism include Davion and Wolf (1999), Griffin and Solum (1994) and Lloyd (1994). Martin and Reidy (2006) focuses on the law of peoples. Hinton (2015) is a volume of articles by leading scholars on the original position.

Abbey (2013) is an edited volume on feminist interpretations of Rawls's work. Bailey and Gentile (2014) is an important anthology of articles that explore how extensively religious believers can engage in the political life of a Rawlsian society. Fleming (2004) is a symposium on Rawls and the law. O'Neill and Williamson (2012) contains many significant essays on the institutional design of Rawls's preferred polity, the property-owning democracy.

Readers who can gain access (usually through a library) to Kukathas (2003, 4 volumes) or Richardson and Weithman (1999, 5 volumes) will find many of the most important critical articles on Rawls's work, divided according to specific themes (e.g., maximin reasoning, public reason) and types of criticisms (e.g., conservative critiques, feminist critiques). Readers without access to the Richardson and Weithman volumes can follow the links [volume 1, volume 2, volume 3, volume 4, volume 5] to their tables of contents and can then locate the articles desired in their original places of publication."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Essays on Habermas and Law

New Book: Habermas and Law 

Ed. by Hugh Baxter

(Routledge, 2017)

467 pages


Habermas and Law makes accessible the most important essays in English that deal with the application to law of the work of major philosophers for whom law was not a main concern. It encompasses not only what these philosophers had to say about law but also brings together essays which consider those aspects of the work of major philosophers which bear on our interpretation and assessment of current law and legal theory.


Introduction - Hugh Baxter

Part 1. The Emergence and Development of Law as a Central Theme in Habermas’s Thought

1. Capitalism, Law, and Social Criticism [pre-view] - William Scheuerman 

Part 2. Grounding of Basic Rights

2. Basic Rights and Democracy in Jürgen Habermas’s Procedural Paradigm of the Law [abstract] - Robert Alexy 

3. Justification and Application: The Revival of the Rawls-Habermas Debate [pdf] - Jørgen Pedersen

Part 3. Democratic Deliberation

4. The Unforced Force of the Better Argument: Reason and Power in Habermas’ Political Theory [pre-view] - Amy Allen

5. No-Saying in Habermas [pdf] - Stephen K. White & Evan Robert Far

6. Norms, Motives, and Radical Democracy: Habermas and the Problem of Motivation [pre-view] - Daniel Munro

Part 4. Constitutions and Judicial Review

7. Morality, Identity, and Constitutional Patriotism [abstract] - Frank Michelman 

8. On the Possibility of a Democratic Constitutional Founding: Habermas and Michelman in Dialogue [pre-view] - Ciaran Cronin 

9. Coping with Constitutional Indeterminacy [pdf] - Todd Hedrick

10. Paradoxes of Constitutional Democracy [doc] - Kevin Olson 

11. Constitutional Rights, Balancing, and Rationality [pdf] - Robert Alexy 

Part 5. Religion and the Public Sphere

12. Religion in the Public Sphere: Remarks on Habermas' Conception of Public Deliberation in Post-secular Societies [pre-view] - Cristina Lafont

13. Habermas, Religion, and the Ethics of Citizenship - James W. Boettcher 

14. Habermas and the Aporia of Translating Religion in Democracy - Badredine Arfi 

Part 6. Globalization and Democracy Beyond the Nation-State

15. Does Europe Need Common Values? Habermas vs. Habermas - Justine Lacroix 

16. Why Europeans Will Not Embrace Constitutional Patriotism - Mattias Kumm

17. Transnationalizing the Public Sphere - Nancy Fraser 

18. Tasks of a Global Civil Society: Held, Habermas, and Democratic Legitimacy beyond the Nation-State [pdf] - Adam Lupel 

19. Globalizing Democracy, Reflections on Habermas’s Radicalism [pdf] - Pauline Johnson 

20. Towards a Discourse-Theoretical Account of Authority and Obligation in the Postnational Constellation - Jonathan Trejo-Mathys 

Hugh Baxter is Professor of Law and Philosophy at Boston University. He is the author of "Habermas: The Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy" (Stanford University Press, 2011). See a symposium discussion on Baxter's book here.

See also three papers by Hugh Baxter:

*  "Habermas's Sociological and Normative Theory of Law and Democracy: A Reply to Wirts, Flynn, and Zurn" (2014)

* "Habermas's Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy" (2002)

* "System and Lifeworld in Habermas's Theory of Law" (2002)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

New Book on Habermas and Social Research

Habermas and Social Research

Ed. by Mark Murphy

(Routledge, 2017)

214 pages


One of the greatest contributors to the field of sociology, Jürgen Habermas has had a wide-ranging and significant impact on understandings of social change and social conflict. He has inspired researchers in a range of disciplines with his multidimensional social theory, however an overview of his theory in applied settings is long overdue.
This collection brings together in one convenient volume a set of researchers who place Jürgen Habermas’ key concepts such as colonisation, deliberation and communication at the centre of their research methodologies. 

Contents [pre-view

1. Introduction: Putting Habermas to work in social research - Mark Murphy 

Part 1: Research on Colonisation

2. Habermas in the context of social movements research: Colonisation as a living battle - Gemma Edwards 
3. Habermas’ critical theory as an alternative research paradigm: The case of Everglades environmental policy [paper] - Claire Connolly Knox 
4. Habermas and the self-regulation of complementary and alternative medicine - Peter Kennedy 

Part 2: The politics of deliberation 1: Research on the public sphere

5. Working with and thinking against Habermas - Judith Bessant 
6. Digitizing Habermas: Digital public spheres & networked publics - Bjarki Valtysson 

Part 3: The politics of deliberation 2: Research on inclusion

7. Parental involvement in school: Applying Habermas’ theoretical framework - Anne Dorthe Tveit 
8. Looking at participation through the lens of Habermas’ theory: opportunities to bridge the gap between lifeworld and system? - Susan Woelders & Tineke Abma 

Part 4: Communicative (inter)actions 1: School and migration studies

9. Transnationalism as communicative action: Putting Habermas to work in migration studies [paper] - Thomas Lacroix 
10. Young children’s educational practice in preschool in relation to Habermas’ philosophical perspective - Anette Emilson 

Part 5: Communicative (inter)actions 2: The planning process 

11. Bridging the theory and method nexus in planning: The potential and limits of Habermas for urban planning scholarship - Crystal Legacy and Alan Marc
12. Habermas and the role of linguistic interaction in environmental planning: An East European case study - Maie Kiisel

Mark Murphy is Reader in Education & Public Policy at the University of Glasgow. He is the editor of "Social Theory and Education Research: Understanding Foucault, Habermas, Bourdieu and Derrida" (Routledge, 2013). 

Friday, January 06, 2017

Habermas on citizen equality in the EU

A new article in English by Jürgen Habermas:

"Citizen and State Equality in a Supranational Political Community: Degressive Proportionality and the Pouvoir Constituant Mixte"
(Journal of Common Market Studies, forthcoming 2017)


In the European Parliament seats are distributed according to a principle of degressive proportionality that privileges smaller member states. While serving the principle of state equality, this arrangement seems to violate the principle of citizen equality. In this article, I consider whether a deviation from the equal representation of citizens can be justified in the context of a supranational political community. The main thesis is that the conflict between citizen and state equality can be dissolved if we understand the European Union as based on a pouvoir constituant mixte. Today, each European finds herself in a dual role as an EU citizen and a state citizen. While the member state peoples strive for supranational democracy, they have an interest in preserving their domestic structures of self-government. Thus, the rules of representation in the EP can be reconstructed as an expression of the legitimate will of a dual constituent subject.

The text is a revised version of an article published in the German journal "Der Staat" in 2014: 
Zur Prinzipienkonkurrenz von Bürgergleichheit und Staatengleichheit im supranationalen Gemeinwesen. Eine Notiz aus Anlass der Frage nach der Legitimität der ungleichen Repräsentation der Bürger im Europäischen Parlament”, Der Staat vol. 53, no. 2 (2014), pp. 167-192.

See also Jürgen Habermas's papers on 

* "Democracy in Europe" (2014)

* "The Crisis of  the European Union in the Light of  a Constitutionalization of International Law" (2012)

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Forthcoming books on Jürgen Habermas

Habermas and Law

Habermas and Feminism
(Palgrave MacMillan)

Postsäkulare Gesellschaft und Religion: Zum Spätwerk von Jürgen Habermas
(Verlag Herder)

Habermas and Giddens on Modernity
(Anthem Press)

Habermas und die Religion

Habermas Lexicon
(Cambridge University Press)

Jürgen Habermas
(Columbia University Press)

And an English translation of Habermas's latest book on philosophy:

Postmetaphysical Thinking II
(Polity Press)

Monday, January 02, 2017

Derek Parfit Dies at 74

Derek Parfit died on January 1, 2017. He was 74.

Links to obituaries and remembrances here.

See Larissa MacFarquhar's portrait of Derek Parfit in "The New Yorker" September 2011: "How to be Good".

The third volume of Derek Parfit's work "On What Matters" will come out on Oxford University Press in February.

At "Daily Nous", Professor Peter Singer quotes a text from Parfit's "On What Matters" Volume 3. Peter Singer writes:

"Derek’s On What Matters, Volume Three is in press and will be published by OUP in February. A large part of it consists of responses to the essays in the companion volume I have edited, Does Anything Really Matter: Essays on Parfit on Objectivity, which will be published at the same time.

Derek shared the final version of On What Matters Volume Three with me, and it seems fitting now to share the final paragraphs, which give a brief statement of what Derek considered matters most, as well as an indication of what we have lost by his inability to complete his larger project.

I regret that, in a book called On What Matters, I have said so little about what matters. I hope to say more in what would be my Volume Four. I shall end this volume with slight revisions of some of my earlier claims.
One thing that greatly matters is the failure of we rich people to prevent, as we so easily could, much of the suffering and many of the early deaths of the poorest people in the world. The money that we spend on an evening’s entertainment might instead save some poor person from death, blindness, or chronic and severe pain. If we believe that, in our treatment of these poorest people, we are not acting wrongly, we are like those who believed that they were justified in having slaves.
Some of us ask how much of our wealth we rich people ought to give to these poorest people. But that question wrongly assumes that our wealth is ours to give. This wealth is legally ours. But these poorest people have much stronger moral claims to some of this wealth. We ought to transfer to these people, in ways that I mention in a note, at least ten per cent of what we earn.
What now matters most is how we respond to various risks to the survival of humanity. We are creating some of these risks, and discovering how we could respond to these and other risks. If we reduce these risks, and humanity survives the next few centuries, our descendants or successors could end these risks by spreading through this galaxy.
Life can be wonderful as well as terrible, and we shall increasingly have the power to make life good. Since human history may be only just beginning, we can expect that future humans, or supra-humans, may achieve some great goods that we cannot now even imagine. In Nietzsche’s words, there has never been such a new dawn and clear horizon, and such an open sea.
If we are the only rational beings in the Universe, as some recent evidence suggests, it matters even more whether we shall have descendants or successors during the billions of years in which that would be possible. Some of our successors might live lives and create worlds that, though failing to justify past suffering, would give us all, including some of those who have suffered, reasons to be glad that the Universe exists.”"

Talk by Derek Parfit on ”Giving What We Can”, The Oxford Union, 2015.

Derek Parfit: "On What Matters" volume 3

On What Matters
Volume Three

by Derek Parfit

(Oxford University Press, 2017)

488 pages


Derek Parfit presents the third volume of On What Matters, his landmark work of moral philosophy. Parfit develops further his influential treatment of reasons, normativity, the meaning of moral discourse, and the status of morality. He engages with his critics, and shows the way to resolution of their differences.
This volume is partly about what it is for things to matter, in the sense that we all have reasons to care about these things. Much of the book discusses three of the main kinds of meta-ethical theory: Normative Naturalism, Quasi-Realist Expressivism, and Non-Metaphysical Non-Naturalism, which Derek Parfit now calls Non-Realist Cognitivism. This third theory claims that, if we use the word 'reality' in an ontologically weighty sense, irreducibly normative truths have no mysterious or incredible ontological implications. If instead we use 'reality' in a wide sense, according to which all truths are truths about reality, this theory claims that some non-empirically discoverable truths-such as logical, mathematical, modal, and some normative truths-raise no difficult ontological questions.
Parfit discusses these theories partly by commenting on the views of some of the contributors to Peter Singer's collection Does Anything Really Matter? Parfit on Objectivity (Oxford University Press, 2017). 

Contents [pre-view]



Part Seven: Irreducibly Normative Truths
37. How Things Might Matter
38. Normative and Natural Truths
39. Gibbard's Offer to Non-Naturalists
40. Railton's Defence of Soft Naturalism
41. Railton's Resolution of our Disagreements
42. Jackson's Non-Empirical Normative Truths
43. Schroeder's Conservative Reductive Thesis

Part Eight: Expressivist Truths
44. Quasi-Realist Expressivism
45. Gibbard's Resolution of our Disagreements
46: Another Triple Theory

Part Nine: Normative and Psychological Reasons
47. Expressivist Reasons
48. Subjectivist Reasons
49. Street's Meta-Ethical Constructivism
50. Morality, Blame, and Internal Reasons
51: Nietzsche's Mountain
52. What Matters and Universal Reasons
53. Act Consequentialism, Reasons, and Morality

Derek Parfit died on January 1, 2017.

He was a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. He was the author of "Reasons and Persons" (Oxford University Press, 1984), and "On What Matters" Volume One and Volume Two (Oxford University Press, 2011).

See two recent papers by Derek Parfit:

* "Conflicting Reasons" (Etica & Politica, 2016)
* "Personal and Omnipersonal Duties" (The Harvard Review of Philosophy, 2016).

See also Larissa MacFarquhar's portrait of Derek Parfit in "The New Yorker" September 2011: "How to be Good".

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Essays on Derek Parfit on Metaethics

Does Anything Really Matter?

Essays on Parfit on Objectivity

Ed. by Peter Singer

(Oxford University Press, 2017)

320 pages


In the first two volumes of On What Matters Derek Parfit argues that there are objective moral truths, and other normative truths about what we have reasons to believe, and to want, and to do. He thus challenges a view of the role of reason in action that can be traced back to David Hume, and is widely assumed to be correct, not only by philosophers but also by economists. In defending his view, Parfit argues that if there are no objective normative truths, nihilism follows, and nothing matters. He criticizes, often forcefully, many leading contemporary philosophers working on the nature of ethics, including Simon Blackburn, Stephen Darwall, Allen Gibbard, Frank Jackson, Peter Railton, Mark Schroeder, Michael Smith, and Sharon Street. Does Anything Really Matter? gives these philosophers an opportunity to respond to Parfit's criticisms, and includes essays on Parfit's views by Richard Chappell, Andrew Huddleston, Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer, Bruce Russell, and Larry Temkin. A third volume of On What Matters, in which Parfit engages with his critics and breaks new ground in finding significant agreement between his own views and theirs, is appearing as a separate companion volume.

Contents [pre-view]

Preface - Peter Singer

1. Has Parfit's Life Been Wasted? - Larry Temkin
2. Two Sides of the Meta-Ethical Mountain? [pdf] - Peter Railton
3. Parfit on Normative Properties and Disagreement - Allan Gibbard
4. All Souls Night - Simon Blackburn
5. Parfit's Mistaken Metaethics [pdf] - Michael Smith
6. Nothing 'Really' Matters, but That's Not What Matters [Draft] - Sharon Street
7: Knowing What Matters - Richard Chappell
8. Nietzsche and the Hope of Normative Convergence - Andrew Huddleston
9. In Defence Of Reductionism In Ethics [pdf] - Frank Jackson
10. What Matters about Metaethics? [pdf] - Mark Schroeder
11. A Defense of Moral Intuitionism - Bruce Russell
12. Morality, Blame, and Internal Reasons - Stephen Darwall
13. Parfit on Objectivity and 'The Profoundest Problem of Ethics' [Related paper] - Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek & Peter Singer

See some of my previous blog posts on Derek Parfit's work:

* Derek Parfit's On What Matters (OUP, 2011)
* Reviews of Derek Parfit's book 
* Critical essays on Derek Parfit (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009)