Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Reviews of Habermas biography

Seven reviews of Stefan Müller-Doohm's biography of "Jürgen Habermas" (Polity Press, 2016):

* The Times Literary Supplement (October 2017) - Michael Geyer

* The Hedgehog Magazine (Summer 2017) - Charles Mathewes

* Boston Review (April 2017) - William E. Scheuerman

* The New York Review of Books (March 2017) - Samuel Freeman

* The Guardian (February 2017) - Stuart Jeffries

* Social & Political Thought (2016) - William Outhwaite

* The Nation (September 2016) - Peter E. Gordon

See also my links to reviews of the German edition of the biography here and here.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Neues Buch: "Habermas und die Religion"

Habermas und die Religion

Hrsg. von Klaus Viertbauer & Franz Gruber

(Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft WBG, 2017)

272 Seiten


Von der Säkularisierungsthese zu einer postsäkularen Gesellschaft - Klaus Viertbauer

I. Kontexte und Konstellationen

1. Jürgen Habermas und Kants Religionsphilosophie - Friedo Ricken
2. Schleiermacher und Kierkegaard in der Sicht "nachmetaphysischen Denkens" - Maureen Junker-Kenny
3. Jürgen Habermas und die Kritische Theorie - Walter Raberger
4. Habermas' partielle Zuwendung zum Pragmatismus - Ludwig Nagl
5. Habermas und die neue Metaphysik - Klaus Müller
6. Liberal, deliberativ oder dekonstruktivistisch? - Michael Reder

II. Diskurse und Rezeptionslinien

7. Diskursethik und Leidenserfahrungen - Ottmar John
8. Habermas und die Öffentliche Theologie - Andreas Telser
9. Nicht zugänglich! Nicht verständlich! Nicht akzeptabel! [Englisch] - Maeve Cooke
10. Kommunikatives Handeln und Glaubensbegründung - Franz Gruber
11. Sozialethik postsäkular? Diskursethik und katholische Soziallehre - Hans-Joachim Höhn
12. Vom Ritual zur Sprache - Von der Sprache zum Ritual - Florian Uhl

Weitere Literatur:

* "Religion and Public Reason" von Maureen Junker-Kenny (2014)

* "Habermas and Religion", hrsg. von Craig Calhoun, Eduardo Mendieta, & Jonathan VanAntwerpen (2013)

* "Habermas and Theology" von Maureen Junker-Kenny (2011)

* "Discoursing the Post-Secular", hrsg. von Péter Losonczi & Aakash Singh (2010)

* "Moderne Religion?", hrsg. von Knut Wenzel & Thomas M. Schmidt (2009)

Saturday, September 02, 2017

John Rawls - Reticent Socialist

John Rawls: Reticent Socialist

by William A. Edmundson

(Cambridge University Press, 2017)

220 pages


This book is the first detailed reconstruction of the late work of John Rawls, who was perhaps the most influential philosopher of the twentieth century. Rawls's 1971 treatise, A Theory of Justice, stimulated an outpouring of commentary on 'justice-as-fairness,' his conception of justice for an ideal, self-contained, modern political society. Most of that commentary took Rawls to be defending welfare-state capitalism as found in Western Europe and the United States. Far less attention has been given to Rawls's 2001 book, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement. In the Restatement, Rawls not only substantially reformulates the 'original position' argument for the two principles of justice-as-fairness but also repudiates capitalist regimes as possible embodiments. Edmundson further develops Rawls's non-ideal theory, which guides us when we find ourselves in a society that falls well short of justice.

Contents [preview]


1. Conceptions of Property in the Original Position
2. Property-Owning Democracy versus Liberal Socialism
3. Fair Value and the Fact of Domination
4. The Four-stage Sequence
5. The Circumstances of Politics
6. Rescuing the Difference Principle
7. The Special Psychologies
8. Socialism and Stability
9. The Common Content
10. The Property Question
11. Religion and Reticence
12. Non-ideal Theory: The Transition to Socialism

William A. Edmundson is Professor of Law and Philosophy at Georgia State University College of Law. He is the author of "An Introduction to Rights" (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and co-editor of "The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory" (Blackwell, 2004).

See my blog posts on "Property-Owning Democracy":

* "Property-Owning Democracy. Rawls and Beyond", ed. by Martin O'Neill & Thad Williamson (2012). [+ article in Boston Review here]

* "Republic of Equals. Predistribution and Property-Owning Democracy", by Alan Thomas (2016) [+ Alan Thomas's blog here]

* "Property-Owning Democracy: A Short History", paper by Ben Jackson.

See also also Samuel Freeman's paper: "Property-Owning Democracy and the Difference Principle" [pdf]

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Critical Theory in Critical Times

Critical Theory in Critical Times
Transforming the Global Political and Economic Order 

Ed. by Penelope Deutscher & Cristina Lafont

(Columbia University Press, 2017)

304 pages


In Critical Theory in Critical Times, eleven of the most distinguished critical theorists offer new perspectives on recent crises and transformations of the global political and economic order. Sharpening the conceptual tools of critical theory, the contributors reveal new ways of expanding the diverse traditions of the Frankfurt School in response to some of the most urgent and important challenges of our times.


Introduction: Critical Theory in Critical Times

Part I. The Future of Democracy

1. An Exploration of the Meaning of Transnationalization of Democracy (video) - Jürgen Habermas

Part II. Human Rights and Sovereignty

2. Democratic Sovereignty and Transnational Law (paper) - Seyla Benhabib
3. Human Rights, Sovereignty, and the Responsibility to Protect (paper) - Cristina Lafont
4. A Critical Theory of Human Rights - Rainer Forst

Part III. Political Rights in Neoliberal Times

5. Neoliberalism and the Economization of Rights - Wendy Brown
6. Law and Domination - Christoph Menke

Part IV. Criticizing Capitalism

7. Behind Marx's Hidden Abode (video) - Nancy Fraser
8. A Wide Concept of Economy (paper) - Rahel Jaeggi

Part V. The End of Progress in Postcolonial Times

9. Adorno, Foucault, and the End of Progress (paper) (video) - Amy Allen
10. "Post-Foucault": The Critical Time of the Present - Penelope Deutscher
11. Criticizing Critical Theory - Charles W. Mills

Note: Jürgen Habermas's essay appeared in his book ”The Lure of Technocracy" (Polity Press, 2015), titled "European Citizens and European Peoples: The Problem of Transnationalizing Democracy”. 

See Jerome Braun's review of the book in "Theory, Culture & Society".

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Essays in Honor of Nancy Fraser

Feminism, Capitalism, and Critique
Essays in Honor of Nancy Fraser 

Ed. by Banu Bargu & Chiara Bottici

(Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)

332 pages


This edited collection examines the relationship between three central terms — capitalism, feminism, and critique — while critically celebrating the work and life of a thinker who has done the most to address this nexus: Nancy Fraser. In honor of her seventieth birthday, and in the spirit of her work in the tradition of critical theory, this collection brings together scholars from different disciplines and theoretical approaches to address this conjunction and evaluate Fraser’s lifelong contributions to theorizing it. Scholars from philosophy, political science, sociology, gender studies, race theory and economics come together to think through the vicissitudes of capitalism and feminism while also responding to different elements of Nancy Fraser’s work, which weaves together a strong feminist standpoint with a vibrant and complex critique of capitalism. 

Contents [preview]

1. Introduction - Banu Bargu & Chiara Bottici
2. From Socialist Feminism to the Critique of Global Capitalism - Richard J. Bernstein
3. Debates on Slavery, Capitalism and Race: Old and New - Robin Blackburn
4. Feminism, Capitalism, and the Social Regulation of Sexuality - Johanna Oksala
5. Capitalism’s Insidious Charm vs. Women’s and Sexual Liberation - Cinzia Arruzza
6. The Long Life of Nancy Fraser’s “Rethinking the Public Sphere” - Jane Mansbridge
7. Feminism, Ecology, and Capitalism - María Pía Lara 
8. Recognition, Redistribution, and Participatory Parity - William E. Scheuerman
9. (Parity of) Participation – The Missing Link Between Resources and Resonance - Hartmut Rosa
10. Curbing the Absolute Power of Disembedded Financial Markets - Alessandro Ferrara
11. Hegel and Marx: A Reassessment After One Century [video] - Axel Honneth
12. Crisis, Contradiction, and the Task of a Critical Theory - Rachel Jaeggi
13. What’s Critical About a Critical Theory of Justice? - Rainer Forst
14. Beyond Kant Versus Hegel - Amy Allen
15. Nancy Fraser and the Left: A Searching Idea of Equality - Eli Zaretsky
Nancy Fraser's Bibliography

See also Lucas Ballestin's review of the book here.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Prospects and Limits of Deliberative Democracy

The latest issue of "Dædalus" (Summer 2017) features articles on "The Prospects and Limits of Deliberative Democracy":

1. Introduction [pdf]
by James S. Fishkin & Jane Mansbridge

The legitimacy of democracy depends on some real link between the public will and the public policies and office-holders who are selected. But the model of competition-based democracy has come under threat by a disillusioned and increasingly mobilized public that no longer views its claims of representation as legitimate. This essay introduces the alternative potential of deliberative democracy, and considers whether deliberative institutions could revive democratic legitimacy, provide for more authentic public will formation, provide a middle ground between mistrusted elites and the angry voices of populism, and help fulfill some of our shared expectations about democracy.

2. Referendum vs. Institutionalized Deliberation: What Democratic Theorists Can Learn from the 2016 Brexit Decision [pdf]
by Claus Offe

This essay proceeds in three steps. First, it will briefly outline the often invoked “crisis” of representative democracy and its major symptoms. Second, it will discuss a popular yet, as I shall argue, worryingly misguided response to that crisis: namely, the switch to plebiscitarian methods of “direct” democracy, as advocated, for example, by rightist populist forces in many European Union member states. The United Kingdom's Brexit referendum of June 2016 illuminates the weaknesses of this approach. Third, it will suggest a rough design for enriching representative electoral democracy with nonelectoral (but “aleatory,” or randomized) and nonmajoritarian (but deliberative and consultative) bodies and their peculiar methods of political will formation (as opposed to the expression of a popular will already formed).

3. Twelve Key Findings in Deliberative Democracy Research [pdf]
by Nicole Curato, John S. Dryzek, Selen A. Ercan, Carolyn M. Hendriks & Simon Niemeyer

Deliberative democracy is a normative project grounded in political theory; but it is also home to a large volume of empirical social science research. So what have we learned about deliberative democracy, its value, and its weaknesses? This essay reflects on the development of the field of deliberative democracy by discussing twelve key findings that capture a number of resolved issues in normative theory, conceptual clarification, and associated empirical results. We argue that these findings deserve to be more widely recognized and viewed as a foundation for future practice and research. We draw on our own research and that of others in the field.

4. Political Deliberation and the Adversarial Principle
by Bernard Manin

Retrieving an insight dating back to antiquity, this essay argues that the confrontation of opposing views and arguments is desirable in political deliberation. But freedom of speech and diversity among deliberators do not suffice to secure that outcome. Therefore we should actively facilitate and encourage the presentation of contrary opinions during deliberation. Such confrontation is our best means of improving the quality of collective decisions. It also counteracts the pernicious fragmentation of the public sphere. It facilitates the comprehension of choices. Lastly, arguing for and against a given decision treats the minority with respect. This essay proposes practical ways of promoting adversarial deliberation, in particular the organization of debates disconnected from electoral competition.

5. Deliberative Democracy as Open, Not (Just) Representative Democracy
by Hélène Landemore

Deliberative democracy is at risk of becoming collateral damage of the current crisis of representative democracy. If deliberative democracy is necessarily representative and if representation betrays the true meaning of democracy as rule of, by, and for the people, then how can deliberative democracy retain any validity as a theory of political legitimacy? Any tight connection between deliberative democracy and representative democracy thus risks making deliberative democracy obsolete: a dated paradigm fit for a precrisis order, but maladjusted to the world of Occupy, the Pirate Party, the Zapatistas, and other antirepresentative movements. This essay argues that the problem comes from a particular and historically situated understanding of representative democracy as rule by elected elites. I argue that in order to retain its normative appeal and political relevance, deliberative democracy should dissociate itself from representative democracy thus understood and reinvent itself as the core of a more truly democratic paradigm, which I call “open democracy.” In open democracy, popular rule means the mediated but real exercise of power by ordinary citizens. This new paradigm privileges nonelectoral forms of representation and in it, power is meant to remain constantly inclusive of and accessible–in other words open–to ordinary citizens.

6. Inequality is Always in the Room: Language and Power in Deliberative Democracy
by Arthur Lupia & Anne Norton

Deliberative democracy has the potential to legitimize collective decisions. Deliberation's legitimating potential, however, depends on whether those who deliberate truly enter as equals, whether they are able to express on equal terms their visions of the common good, and whether the forms and practices that govern deliberative assemblies advance or undermine their goals. Here, we examine these sources of deliberation's legitimating potential. We contend that even in situations of apparent procedural equality, deliberation's legitimating potential is limited by its potential to increase normatively focal power asymmetries. We conclude by describing how deliberative contexts can be modified to reduce certain types of power asymmetries, such as those often associated with gender, race, or class. In so doing, we hope to help readers consider a broader range of factors that influence the outcomes of attempts to restructure power relationships through communicative forums.

7. Collusion in Restraint of Democracy: Against Political Deliberation [pdf]
by Ian Shapiro

Recent calls to inject substantial doses of deliberation into democratic politics rest on a misdiagnosis of its infirmities. Far from improving political outcomes, deliberation undermines competition over proposed political programs–the lifeblood of healthy democratic politics. Moreover, institutions that are intended to encourage deliberation are all too easily hijacked by people with intense preferences and abundant resources, who can deploy their leverage in deliberative settings to bargain for the outcomes they prefer. Arguments in support of deliberation are, at best, diversions from more serious threats to democracy, notably money's toxic role in politics. A better focus would be on restoring meaningful competition between representatives of two strong political parties over the policies that, if elected, they will implement. I sketch the main outlines of this kind of political competition, differentiating it from less healthy forms of multiparty and intraparty competition that undermine the accountability of governments.

8. Can Democracy be Deliberative and Participatory? The Democratic Case for Political Uses of Mini-Publics
by Cristina Lafont

This essay focuses on recent proposals to confer decisional status upon deliberative mini-publics such as citizens' juries, Deliberative Polls, and citizens' assemblies. Against such proposals, I argue that inserting deliberative mini-publics into political decision-making processes would diminish the democratic legitimacy of the political system as a whole. This negative conclusion invites a question: which political uses of mini-publics would yield genuinely democratic improvements? Drawing from a participatory conception of deliberative democracy, I propose several uses of mini-publics that could enhance the democratic legitimacy of political decision-making in current societies.

9. Deliberative Citizens, (Non)Deliberative Politicians: A Rejoinder
by André Bächtiger & Simon Beste

Are citizens or politicians (more) capable of deliberation, and when should they be willing to do so? In this essay, we first show that both politicians and citizens have the capacity to deliberate when institutions are appropriate. Yet high-quality deliberation sometimes collides with democratic principles and ideals. Therefore, we employ a “need-oriented” perspective, asking when and where citizens and the political workings of democracy need high-quality deliberation and when and where this is less the case. On this account, we propose a number of institutional interventions and reforms that may help boost deliberation in ways that both exploit its unique epistemic and ethical potential while simultaneously making it compatible with democratic principles and ideals.

10. Deliberation and the Challenge of Inequality
by Alice Siu

Deliberative critics contend that because societal inequalities cannot be bracketed in deliberative settings, the deliberative process inevitably perpetuates these inequalities. As a result, they argue, deliberation does not serve its theorized purposes, but rather produces distorted dialogue determined by inequalities, not merits. Advocates of deliberation must confront these criticisms: do less-privileged, less-educated, or perhaps illiterate participants stand a chance in discussions with the more privileged, better educated, and well spoken? Could their arguments ever be perceived or weighed equally? This essay presents empirical evidence to demonstrate that, in deliberations that are structured to provide a more level playing field, inequalities in skill and status do not translate into inequalities of influence.

11. Deliberative Democracy in the Trenches (paper)
by Cass R. Sunstein

In the last decades, many political theorists have explored the idea of deliberative democracy. The basic claim is that well-functioning democracies combine accountability with a commitment to reflection, information acquisition, multiple perspectives, and reason-giving. Does that claim illuminate actual practices? Much of the time, the executive branch of the United States has combined both democracy and deliberation, not least because it has placed a high premium on reason-giving and the acquisition of necessary information. It has also contained a high degree of internal diversity, encouraging debate and disagreement, not least through the public comment process. These claims are illustrated with concrete, if somewhat stylized, discussions of how the executive branch often operates.

12. Applying Deliberative Democracy in Africa: Uganda’s First Deliberative Polls
by James S. Fishkin, Roy William Mayega, Lynn Atuyambe, Nathan Tumuhamye, Julius Ssentongo, Alice Siu & William Bazeyo

Practical experiments with deliberative democracy, instituted with random samples of the public, have had success in many countries. But this approach has never before been tried in Sub-Saharan Africa. Reflecting on the first two applications in Uganda, we apply the same criteria for success commonly used for such projects in the most advanced countries. Can this approach work successfully with samples of a public low in literacy and education? Can it work on some of the critical policy choices faced by the public in rural Uganda? This essay reflects on quantitative and qualitative results from Uganda's first Deliberative Polls. We find that the projects were representative in both attitudes and demographics. They produced substantial opinion change supported by identifiable reasons. They avoided distortions from inequality and polarization. They produced actionable results that can be expected to influence policy on difficult choices.

13. Authoritarian Deliberation in China
by Baogang He & Mark E. Warren

Authoritarian rule in China increasingly involves a wide variety of deliberative practices. These practices combine authoritarian command with deliberative influence, producing the apparent anomaly of authoritarian deliberation. Although deliberation and democracy are usually found together, they are distinct phenomena. Democracy involves the inclusion of individuals in matters that affect them through distributions of empowerments like votes and rights. Deliberation is the kind of communication that involves persuasion-based influence. Combinations of command-based power and deliberative influence – like authoritarian deliberation – are now pervading Chinese politics, likely a consequence of the failures of command authoritarianism under the conditions of complexity and pluralism produced by market-oriented development. The concept of authoritarian deliberation frames two possible trajectories of political development in China. One possibility is that the increasing use of deliberative practices stabilizes and strengthens authoritarian rule. An alternative possibility is that deliberative practices serve as a leading edge of democratization.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Habermas on Religion and Democracy

The recent issue of the journal "The European Legacy" (vol. 25 issue 5) features articles on Habermas's view on religion and democracy:

Introduction: Habermas on Religion and Democracy - Critical Perspectives
by Camil Ungureanu & Paolo Monti

Habermas’s Theological Turn and European Integration (Abstract)
by Peter J. Verovšek

Habermas and Taylor on Religious Reasoning in a Liberal Democracy (Abstract)
by Andrew Tsz Wan Hung

Religion in Habermas’s Two-Track Political Theory (Abstract)
by Adil Usturali

Found in Translation: Habermas and Anthropotechnics (Abstract)
by Matteo Bortolini

From the introduction:

"The prospects of a fully-fledged postsecular society appear to be utopian in view of the current rise of populism and religious majoritarianism: social conflicts, stark inequalities, fundamentalist estrangement and resentment—all these endanger and marginalize the potentially fruitful communication between believers and non-believers. We argue, however, that precisely because of these trends, Habermas’s cosmopolitan vision of democracy and religion, notwithstanding its philosophical and sociological difficulties, stands out as an exemplary lifelong defense of inclusive communicative interactions and forms of resistance. The inner tensions of Habermas’s theoretical outlook—rationalism vs historicity, universalism vs particular world-views, state neutrality vs religion’s indirect impact, and sociological vs normative analysis—are inherent to democratic theory and practice and thus remain instructive for understanding the multilayered interrelationships of religion and democracy from comparative and global perspectives."

Thursday, June 08, 2017

New Book: "Postmetaphysical Thinking II"

Postmetaphysical Thinking II

by Jürgen Habermas

(Polity Press, 2017)

276 pages


"There is no alternative to postmetaphysical thinking".

Postmetaphysical thinking is, in the first place, the historical answer to the crisis of metaphysics following Hegel, when the central metaphysical figures of thought began to totter under the pressure exerted by social developments and by developments within science. As a result, philosophy’s epistemological privilege was shaken to its core, its basic concepts were de-transcendentalized, and the primacy of theory over practice was opened to question. For good reasons, philosophy "lost its extraordinary status", but as a result it also courted new problems. In Postmetaphysical Thinking II , the sequel to the 1988 volume that bears the same title [English translation 1992], Habermas addresses some of these problems.

The first section of the book deals with the shift in perspective from metaphysical worldviews to the lifeworld, the unarticulated meanings and assumptions that accompany everyday thought and action in the mode of "background knowledge". Habermas analyses the lifeworld as a "space of reasons" – even where language is not (yet) involved, such as, for example, in gestural communication and rituals. In the second section, the uneasy relationship between religion and postmetaphysical thinking takes centre stage. Habermas picks up where he left off in 1988, when he made the far-sighted observation that "philosophy, even in its postmetaphysical form, will be able neither to replace nor to repress religion", and explores philosophy’s new-found interest in religion, among other topics. The final section includes essays on the role of religion in the political context of a post-secular, liberal society.

Translation of "Nachmetaphysisches Denken II" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2012). See my blog post on the German edition here.


Linguistification of the Sacred. In Place of a Preface

I. The Lifeworld as a Space of Reasons

1. From Worldviews to the Lifeworld
2. The Lifeworld as a Space of Symbolically Embodied Reasons
3. A Hypothesis concerning the Evolutionary Meaning of Rites [video]

II. Postmetaphysical Thinking

4. The New Philosophical Interest in Religion [paper]
5. Religion and Postmetaphysical Thinking: A Reply
6. A Symposium on Faith and Knowledge

III. Politics and Religion

7. "The Political": The Rational Meaning of a Questionable Inheritance of Political Theology [audio]
8. The "Good Life" - a "Detestable Phrase": The Significance of the Young Rawls’s Religious Ethics for His Political Theory
9. Rawls’s Political Liberalism
10. Religion in the Public Sphere of "Post-Secular" Society

Some of the essays are already available in English:

Essay 5: In Craig Calhoun, Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen (eds.) - "Habermas and Religion" (Polity Press, 2012) pp. 347-390.

Essay 7: In Eduardo Mendieta & Jonathan VanAntwerpen (eds.) - "The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere" (Columbia University Press, 2011) pp. 15-33. 

Essay 8: In "European Journal of Philosophy" vol. 18 no. 3 (2010) pp. 443-453. 

Essay 9: In James Gordon Finlayson & Fabian Freyenhagen (eds.) - "Habermas and Rawls: Disputing the Political" (Routledge, 2011), pp. 283-304.

Essay 10: In Jürgen Habermas - "Europe: The Faltering Project" (Polity Press, 2009), pp. 59-77.

Excerpts from the "preface":

"The collection of essays published in 1988 under the same title as the present collection dealt with the self-confirmation of philosophical thinking. This remains the theme of the present collection."

"Hume and Kant mark the end of metaphysics. Philosophy no longer insists on its Platonic route to salvation through contemplation of an all-encompassing cosmic unity, so that it no longer competes in this regard with religious worldviews. The nominalist revolution paves the way for liberating philosophy from the embrace of religion; it now claims to ground morality and law, and the normative content of modernity in general, in reason alone. On the other hand, the critique of a false scientistic self-understanding of philosophy can highlight the fact that it cannot be reduced to science. In contrast to the objectifying sciences, philosophy still shares with religious and metaphysical "worldviews"" the self-reflexive attitude in which it processes mundane knowledge. It is not directly involved in increasing our knowledge of the world but asks instead what the growing body of empirical knowledge, the knowledge we acquire through interactions with the world, means for us. Instead of being reduced to the role of an auxiliary of cognitive science, for example, philosophy should continue to pursue its task of articulating a justified understanding of ourselves and the world in the light of the best available scientific evidence.

There is no reason to question the secular character of postmetaphysical thinking. (....) For philosophy, "linguistification" [of the sacred] can only mean discovering the still vital semantic potentials in religious traditions and translating them into a general language that is accessible beyond the boundaries of particular religious communities - and thereby introducing them into the discursive play of public reasons."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Karl-Otto Apel Dies at 95

The German philosopher Karl-Otto Apel died on May 15, 2017. He was 95.


Detlef Horster - "Bestreiten heißt anerkennen" (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Uwe Justus Wenzel - "Die Vernunft arbeitet in der Sprache" (Neue Zürcher Zeitung)

Jochen Hörisch - "Äußerste Ernsthaftigkeit, das war sein Programm" (Deutsclandsfunk)

Markus Schwering - "Der Letztbegründer" (Frankfurter Rundschau)

Christian Geyer - "Ein liebenswürdiger Argumentierer" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

Thomas Assheuer - "Leidenschaft der Sprache" (Die Zeit)

Rainer Forst - "Goethe-Universität trauert um Karl-Otto Apel" (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier offers his condolences to the widow of Karl-Otto Apel

Alexander Riebel - "Zu universal" (Die Tagespost)

Edmund Arens - "Karl-Otto Apel. Ein Nachruf" (Feinschwarz.net)

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Habermas' Deliberative Multiculturalism

An interesting PhD Thesis by Jonas Jakobsen (The Arctic University of Norway):

"The Claims of Freedom: Habermas' Deliberative Multiculturalism and the Right to Free Speech" (2017)


"The thesis analyzes and discusses Jürgen Habermas’ political philosophy, focusing on his theories of multiculturalism and deliberative democracy. This implies an assesment of strengths and weaknesses in Habermas' theory, and an attempt to overcome the weaknesses through some revisions and reinterpretations. More specifically, I apply Habermas' framework to a particular question to which he himself has not paid systematic attention, namely how we should justify and use free speech in culturally diverse democracies. The first part of this question (how to justify free speech) pertains to how we should justify constitutional free speech as political philosophers. Here, I advocate robust free speech guarantees, based on a reading of Habermas' normative theory of (reflexive, political, and private) freedom. I argue that legal regulations of hate speech (i.e. racist speech) may be legitimate, but not regulations of blasphemy and religious offense. The second part (how to use free speech) pertains to the citizens’ use of free speech in culturally diverse contexts, and thus transcends the focus on mere legality. Here, I argue that the same concern with freedom that justifies free speech as a constitutional right also limits free speech - in a pragmatic and moral sense. The pragmatic sense refers to how hate speech and misrecognition harm the social preconditions for freedom, in particular the freedom of members of weak or marginalized groups. The moral sense in which freedom limits freedom refers to norms of equal recognition that guide (or should guide) public deliberation between persons who respect each other as free and equal. Even though the imperative of equal recognition does not require us to recognize others' cultural identities or respect their religious feelings as such, it does require us to take their cultural attachments into account when interacting - and deliberating - with them."

Saturday, May 06, 2017

New book by Habermas: "Philosophical Introductions"

Forthcoming book in English by Jürgen Habermas:

"Philosophical Introductions: Five Approaches to Communicative Reason"
(Polity Press, September 2017; 200 pages)


On the occasion of Habermas’s 80th birthday, the German publisher Suhrkamp brought out five volumes of Habermas’s work - "Philosophische Texte" - that spanned the full range his philosophical work, from the theory of rationality to the critique of metaphysics. For each of these volumes, Habermas wrote an introduction that crystallized, in a remarkably clear and succinct way, his thinking on the key philosophical issues that have preoccupied him throughout his long career. 

In the five chapters that make up this volume, Habermas discusses the concept of communicative action and the grounding of the social sciences in the theory of language; the relationship between rationality and the theory of language; discourse ethics; political theory and problems of democracy and legitimacy; the critique of reason and the challenge posed by religion in a secular age. 

The book will also be publlshed in a French translation by Gallimard.

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).