Judging justice: The strange responsibility of deconstruction

Philosophy and Social Criticism 30 (1):97-114 (2004)
This paper demonstrates that when the concept of ethicalpolitical responsibility is taken in its modern sense as a decision or outcome based on the protocols of reason, responsibility is neither simply possible nor simply impossible. Paradoxically, it appeals to a demand that it cannot fulfil; responsibility is thus (im)possible. Moreover, insofar as a deconstructive demonstration of this aporia is itself a response to reason’s own demand, deconstruction cannot be characterized as simply responsible or irresponsible. Rather, deconstruction inscribes itself as the interior limit of the order of ethics, of responsibility, as such. Deconstruction is thus characterized best as an (ir)responsible interrogation of the very principle of reason to which political philosophers such as Habermas appeal when they invoke responsibility. To this extent deconstruction enacts the strange responsibility of interrogating critically precisely what is deemed ‘just’. Key Words: critique • deconstruction • Derrida • Enlightenment • ethics • Habermas • justice • modernity • reason • responsibility.
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DOI 10.1177/0191453704039399
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