This paper is part of a larger project defending of the foundations of microeconomics against recent criticisms by philosophers. Here, we undermine one source of these criticisms, arising from philosophers' disappointment with the performance of microeconomic tools, in particular game theory, when these are applied to normative decision theory. Hollis and Sugden have recently articulated such disappointment in a sophisticated way, and have argued on the basis of it that the economic conception of rationality is inadequate. We argue, however, that (...) their claim rests upon a misunderstanding of the concept of a game as it is used in microeconomics. (shrink)
Many scholars in the area of citizenship education take deliberative approaches to democracy, especially as put forward by John Rawls, as their point of departure. From there, they explore how students’ capacity for political and/or moral reasoning can be fostered. Recent work by political theorist Chantal Mouffe, however, questions some of the central tenets of deliberative conceptions of democracy. In the paper I first explain the central differences between Mouffe’s and Rawls’s conceptions of democracy and politics. To this end I (...) take Eamonn Callan’s Creating Citizens as an example of Rawlsian political education and focus on the role of conflict and disagreement in his account. I then address three areas in which political education would need to change if it were to accept Mouffe’s critiques of deliberative approaches to democracy and her proposal for an agonistic public sphere. The first area is the education of political emotions; the second is fostering an understanding of the difference between the moral and the political; the third is developing an awareness of the historical and contemporary political projects of the “left” and “right.” I propose that a radical democratic citizenship education would be an education of political adversaries. (shrink)
Over the last 20 years, cosmopolitan theories have been benefiting greatly from the dialogue between defenders and critics of world citizenship. Yet, the decidedly polemic aspect of this debate, while allowing for intellectual progress, is also responsible for overdrawn generalizations. Instead of entering into the debate directly, this article attempts to refute a specific anti-cosmopolitan claim raised by Chantal Mouffe. Her realist objection to cosmopolitanism, derived from the conceptual framework of agonistic pluralism, is mistaken at a crucial point: a firm (...) dichotomy between politics and morality cannot provide an alternative to theories of world citizenship, because Mouffe’s embrace of multipolarity as a principle of global politics must equally appeal to a set of universal norms governing international relations. This article argues that even the realist model of multipolarity needs to conceive of a minimal morality to create the symbolic ground on which various power centres can be held accountable. (shrink)
Con la publicación de En torno a lo político, Mouffe instala su lectura de lo político y la democracia en la problemática de la política mundial del nuevo milenio. Preocupada principalmente por las posibilidades abiertas para la estructuración de un orden mundial único –posibilidades celebradas por una vasta corriente intelectual de corte liberal y progresista– y por la emergencia de una derecha populista en varios países europeos, se propone hacer una crítica a la base política que ha propic..
Since September 11, we frequently hear that the struggle is between good and evil and that politics is at an end. Should we welcome or fear a 'Third Way' beyond left and right? In this timely and thought provoking book, Chantal Mouffe argues that third way thinking ignores fundamental, conflictual aspects of human nature and that far from expanding democracy, globalization is undermining the combative and radical heart of democratic life. Going back first to Aristotle, she identifies the historical origins (...) of the political. She also reflects on the Enlightenment and the social contract, arguing that in spite of its good intentions, it fatally suppressed the radical core of political life. She uses many contemporary examples, including the Iraq war, racism and the rise of the far right, to argue that far from ending dangerous extremism, the political void created by the search for consensus inflames it. (shrink)
Agonist theorists have argued against deliberative democrats that democratic institutions should not seek to establish a rational consensus, but rather allow political disagreements to be expressed in an adversarial form. But democratic agonism is not antagonism: some restriction of the plurality of admissible expressions is not incompatible with a legitimate public sphere. However, is it generally possible to grant this distinction between antagonism and agonism without accepting normative standards in public discourse that saliently resemble those advocated by (some) deliberative democrats? (...) In this paper we provide an analysis of one important aspect of political communication, the use of slippery slope arguments, and show that the fact of pluralism weakens the agonists’ case for contestation as a sufficient ingredient for appropriately democratic public discourse. We illustrate that contention by identifying two specific kinds of what we call pluralism slippery slopes, i.e. mechanisms whereby pluralism reinforces the efficacy of slippery slope arguments. (shrink)
It would be difficult to find a more perceptive description of Western man and the world he now inhabits than that provided by Chantal Delsol in Icarus Fallen: The Search for Meaning in an Uncertain World . With style and lucidity, Delsol likens contemporary Western man to the mythical figure Icarus, fallen back to earth after trying to reach the sun, alive but badly shaken and confused. During the twentieth century, Delsol argues, man flew too closely to the sun of (...) utopian ideology. Having been burned, he is now groping for a way to orient himself. But the ideas he once held so dear--inevitable progress, the possibility of limitless social and self-transformation--are no longer believable, and he has, for the most part, long since rejected the religious tradition that might now have provided an anchor. Delsol's portrait is engrossing. She explains how we have come simultaneously to embrace the "good" but reject the "true"; how we have sacralized rights and democracy; and how we have lost our sense of the tragic and embraced the idea of "zero risk." Already a well-known political thinker in her native France, this is Delsol's first book to appear in English. Icarus Fallen should establish her as one of the most insightful social and cultural writers working on either side of the Atlantic. "This is simply the best book about the problems of modern man since Christopher Lasch's Culture of Narcissism . It is so crammed with truth and insight that, as someone once said of Chesterton, every line deserves a review." -- The American Conservative "An extensive evaluation of the pitfalls of modern times and the strict limits on human virtues, Icarus Fallen , is strongly recommended reading for students of 20th Century Philosophy, Politics, and History." -- Wisconsin Bookwatch. (shrink)
In The Unlearned Lessons of the Twentieth Century , the sequel to Icarus Fallen, published by ISI Books in 2003, Chantal Delsol maintains that the age in which we live—late modernity—calls into question most of the truths and beliefs bequeathed to us from the past. Yet it clings to a central belief in the dignity of the human person, the cornerstone of the doctrine of universal human rights to which even secular Westerners still cling. At the same time, the process (...) of dehumanization so evident in the ideologies and totalitarianism of the twentieth century remains at work. Delsol charges that it is not enough to proclaim human rights as a sort of incantation but that, rather, one must understand what sort of being the human person is if humans are to be genuinely respected. In other words, if the philosophy of human rights is to form the basis of Western culture, it must rest on a truer understanding of the human person than that which is taught—both explicitly and implicitly—in the contemporary West. (shrink)
This article brings to the fore the shortcomings of the type of pluralism advocated by John Rawls both in Political Liberalism and in The Law of Peoples . It is argued that by postulating that the discrimination between what is and what is not legitimate is dictated by rationality and morality, Rawlss approach forecloses recognition of the properly political moment. Exclusions are presented as being justified by reason and the antagonistic dimension of politics is not acknowledged. This article also takes (...) issue with Rawlss realistic utopia, asserting that despite the reference to decent hierarchical societies, it amounts to a universalization of the western liberal model. Key Words: simple pluralism reasonable pluralism negation of the political antagonism agonism public reason. (shrink)
What is the significance of and logic behind Jacques Derrida's recent "political" writings? While Derrida's work refuses to obey any singular movement or register, he does, nonetheless, make recurrent attempts to negotiate between a politics of identity and difference. A similar undertaking can be found in the radical democratic writings of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. An encounter between these thinkers is here carried out in order to elucidate key themes in Derrida's The Other Heading. The reading aims at developing (...) and contextualising Derrida's relation to radical democratic thought so that his political strategies can be made more explicit. (shrink)
While Cavell is well known for his reinterpretation of the later Wittgenstein, he has never really engaged himself with post-Investigations writings like On Certainty. This collection may, however, seem to undermine the profoundly anti-dogmatic reading of Wittgenstein that Cavell has developed. In addition to apparently arguing against what Cavell calls ‘the truth of skepticism’ – a phrase contested by other Wittgensteinians – On Certainty may seem to justify the rejection of whoever dares to question one’s basic presuppositions. According to On (...) Certainty, or so it seems, the only right response to someone with different certainties is a reproach like ‘Fool!’ or ‘Heretic!’. This article aims to show that On Certainty need not be taken to prove Cavell wrong. It explains that Wittgenstein, in line with the first two parts of The Claim of Reason, does not reject scepticism out of hand but rather questions the sceptic’s self-understanding. Using arguments from Part Three of The Claim, the article moreover argues that a confrontation with divergence calls for self-examination rather than self-righteousness. Precisely because Wittgenstein acknowledges ‘the groundlessness of our believing’ or, in Cavellian terms, ‘the truth of skepticism’, he is not the authoritarian thinker that some have taken him to be. (shrink)
I agree with the critique of rationalism proposed by Spinosa, Flores, and Dreyfus in ?Disclosing New Worlds?. Today the defence of democracy requires us to understand that allegiance to democratic institutions can only rest on identification with the practices, the language?games, and the discourses which are constitutive of the democratic ?form of life?, and that it is not a question of providing them with a rational justification. My comments are developed in two directions. First, as a development of their thesis (...) concerning the centrality of practices, I suggest that in order to grasp the present crisis of democratic forms of individuality we can learn a lot from Nietzsche's analysis of ?nihilism?. Second, I point to a dimension which I consider to be missing in the perspective put forward in the article. It fails to take account of the fact that the constitution of a ?we? always requires the determination of a ?them?. This, in my view, has important consequences for the relation between solidarity and politics. I conclude by arguing for the need to introduce an agonistic element in the view of solidarity, and for the crucial role of the category of the adversary in a pluralist democracy whose aim is to transform antagonism into agonism. (shrink)
Deconstruction and pragmatism constitute two of the major intellectual influences on the contemporary theoretical scene--influences personified in the work of Jacques Derrida and Richard Rorty. The purpose of this volume is to bring deconstruction and pragmatism into critical confrontation with one another through staging a debate between Derrida and Rorty, itself based on discussions that took place at the College International de Philosophie in Paris in 1993.
Through a new interpretation of Wittgenstein's rule-following discussions, this article defends a negotiating model of normativity according to which normative authority is always subject to contestation. To refute both individualism and collectivism, I supplement Wittgenstein's Private Language Argument with a Social Language Argument, showing that normativity cannot be monopolized either individually or socially (i.e. it cannot be privatized or collectivized). The negotiating view of normativity here developed lays the foundations of a politics of radical contestation which converges with Chantal Mouffe's (...) framework of 'radical democracy', while departing from her agonism in preserving the structuring and constraining role that tacit agreement in action plays in rule-following practices. My account of the 'burdens of eccentricity' elucidates how the normative force of dissidence can be properly recognized and used effectively for social transformations. I argue that there is a 'presumption of normalcy' in favour of the established consensus of action, but that this presumption is defeasible: in normative disagreements, a violation of expected normalcy shifts the burden onto the shoulders of rebellious agents who must show that their dissenting behaviour can be a legitimate extension, revision, or transformation of the practice in question. (shrink)
The work of Ernesto Laclau (both with and without his occasional collaborator, Chantal Mouffe) has exerted considerable influence in rhetorical studies over the past two decades. Emerging alongside the so-called epistemic and cultural turns, the project of "critical rhetoric" and cognate endeavors have found in Laclau a revision of Gramsci's hegemony thesis that places discursive—and thus, evidently, rhetorical—operations at the center of politics, culture, and social processes generally. While Raymie McKerrow's seminal essay (1989) drew on Laclau and Mouffe to outline (...) a set of tasks for rhetoric that clearly remained within the ambit of ideology critique, subsequent appropriations of what is variously called .. (shrink)
Although Wittgenstein is often held co-responsible for the so-called death of man as it was pronounced in the course of the previous century, no detailed description of his alternative to the traditional or Cartesian account of human being has so far been available. By consulting several parts of Wittgenstein's later oeuvre, Subjectivity after Wittgenstein aims to fill this gap. However, it also contributes to the debate about the Cartesian subject and its demise by discussing the criticism that the rethinking of (...) subjectivity received, for it has been argued that the anti-Cartesian turn in continental philosophy has lead to a loss of a centre for both ethics and politics. By further exploring the implications of the Wittgensteinian account of human being, this book makes it clear that a non-Cartesian view on the subject is not necessarily ethically and politically inert. Moreover, it argues that ethical and political arguments should not automatically take precedence in a debate about the nature of man. (shrink)
In the context of the recent proliferation of nationalisms and enemy figures, this paper agrees with the desirability of retaining some of the explanatory and motivational potential of an agonistic account of politics, but gives reasons not to accept too much of Carl Schmitt's account of citizenship. The claim as to the necessarily antagonistic exclusion of concrete others can be supported neither on its own terms nor on Derridian grounds, as Chantal Mouffe, in particular, attempts to do. I then indicate (...) that différance may nonetheless account for strong (but not necessary) tendencies toward exclusion as well as for the intrinsic contradictions of liberal universalism. (shrink)
The systematic philosophical foundation for Jean-François Lyotard's postmodern and post-Marxist politics is described. The central principle of the right to create different "phrases" is uncovered and examined. The political consequences of this philosophical system are explored, leading to the conclusion that Lyotard's commitment to difference leads to political indifference. The philosophical roots of this indifference are detailed in Lyotard's Cartesian starting point and his analysis of Holocaust revisionism. This analysis reveals an idealist basis to Lyotard's philosophy of difference. Lyotard's concept (...) of difference is compared to that of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. (shrink)
Starting from the author's critique of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, this essay offers a comprehensive interpretation of Slavoj i ek's political theory. i ek's position drives a wedge between two concepts foundational to Laclau and Mouffe's 'radical democratic theory', namely 'antagonism' and 'anti-essentialism'. Anti-essentialism, it is argued, carries with it a residual utopianism - i.e. a view of political theory as offering a vision of a desirable radicalized society or a 'radical democratic imaginary' - that the more radical concept (...) of antagonism forbids. Effectively, anti-essentialism is shown to produce a new kind of ideology, an ideology that i ek, deeply critical, associates with the shortcomings of multi-culturalism and political correctness. The essay ends with a critical consideration of i ek's claim that he himself produced a systematic political theory based upon the insight of antagonism. Having constructed (by way of return to Marx and Engels) a version of i ek's project that makes sense of his derision for anti-utopianism by positing a utopian theory without any 'imaginary' support, the article closes with critical comments about the effectiveness of such a position. i ek is seen to offer us a powerful political theory, one that unmasks the hypocrisy in much contemporary work, but also a theory whose limits must give us pause. Key Words: antagonism anti-essentialism anti-utopianism Jacques Lacan Ernesto Laclau Chantal Mouffe radical democratic imaginary radical democratic theory utopia Slavoj i ek. (shrink)
The majority of those who comment upon the theories of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe - both supporters and critics - treat the work of the two authors as a coherent unity. I see acute differences that demarcate the ideas of Laclau and Mouffe: differences that impede any straightforward delimitation of the authorial identity `Laclau and Mouffe'. The purpose of this paper is to bring to the fore the incommensurate political differences that separate the work of the two authors, and (...) to establish the superiority of Mouffe's position. At its most basic both authors view politics as described in their co-authored Hegemony and Socialist Strategy : i.e. `as a practice of creation, reproduction and transformation of social relations' (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985: 153). This agreement, however, conceals the fact that the authors describe the political articulation of social relations in distinct ways, and that those descriptions are implicated in, and reinforce, contrasting ethico-political commitments and prescriptions. These differences reflect the differences between the politics of the Marxist tradition retained by Laclau - albeit understood as a negative apparition of its former (ultimately) fully positive self - and Mouffe's radical democratic pluralism. This latter perspective - in its more recent formulations - represents a political compound of civic-republicanism with a defense of liberalism; this is a political imaginary that retains little if anything from the Marxist tradition. Key Words: democracy liberalism metaphor metonymy particularism pluralism post-Marxism radical democracy synecdoche universalism. (shrink)
Much work in the field of education for democratic citizenship is based on the idea that it is possible to know what a good citizen is, so that the task of citizenship education becomes that of the production of the good citizen. In this paper I ask whether and to what extent we can and should understand democratic citizenship as a positive identity. I approach this question by means of an exploration of four dimensions of democratic politics—the political community, the (...) borders of the political order, the dynamics of democratic processes and practices, and the status of the democratic subject—in order to explore whether and to what extent the ‘essence’ of democratic politics can and should be understood as a particular order. For this I engage with ideas from Chantal Mouffe and Jacques Rancière who both have raised fundamental questions about the extent to which the ‘essence’ of democratic politics can be captured as a particular order. In the paper I introduce the figure of the ignorant citizen in order to hint at a conception of citizenship that is not based on particular knowledge about what the good citizen is. I introduce a distinction between a socialisation conception of citizenship education and civic learning and a subjectification conception of citizenship education and civic learning in order to articulate what the educational implications of such an ‘anarchic’ understanding of democratic politics are. While the socialisation conception focuses on the question how ‘newcomers’ can be inserted into an existing political order, the subjectification conception focuses on the question how democratic subjectivity is engendered through engagement in always undetermined political processes. This is no longer a process driven by knowledge about what the citizen is or should become but one that depends on a desire for a particular mode of human togetherness or, in short, a desire for democracy. (shrink)
: Grebowicz argues from the perspective of Jean-François Lyotard's critique of deliberative democracy that the project of democratizing knowledge may bring us closer to terror than to justice. The successful formulation of a critical standpoint requires that we figure the political as itself a contested site, and incorporate this into our theorizing about the role of dissent in the production of knowledges. This essay contrasts Lyotard's notion of the differend with Chantal Mouffe's agonistic model.
This article presents a discussion of how postmodernist, poststructuralist and critical educational thinking relate to different theories of power. I argue that both Critical Theory and some poststructuralist ideas base themselves on a concept of power borrowed from a modernist tradition. I argue as well that we are better off combining a postmodern idea of education with a postmodern idea of power. To this end the concept of power presented by the works of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe is introduced. (...) This concept controverts a number of major educational concepts, i.e. concepts such as causality, autonomy, subjectivity and originality. In other words, it allows us to take a fresh look at old concepts. Finally, I relate the discussion to a number of recent theories of learning. (shrink)