David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Desmond Manderson (ed.), Essays on Levinas and Law: A Mosaic. Palgrave Macmillan (2008)
Levinas and Adorno both refuse to translate their stringent ethical convictions into a programmatic social theory because translating their theories of non-identity into models of governance would necessarily perpetrate, en masse, the very subsumptive violence they denounce. Although Levinas and Adorno have come to provide ethical guidance to Continental philosophers, their outright refusal to be drawn into applied theory has caused innumerable difficulties for progressive theorists compelled by their critiques of instrumental reason but handcuffed by their skepticism toward practical reform. I do not mean to suggest that Adorno and Levinas were not personally engaged with political causes or that numerous interpreters have not extrapolated political content from their work, but rather that Levinas and Adorno expressly blocked the conversion of ethics into political and legal programs on ethical grounds. This paper outlines the procedural and substantive questions that I find most worrisome for a "Jurisprudence of Alterity" motivated by Levinas or Adorno.
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