This article critically engages with Hugh Baxter's important book on Habermas's theories of law and democracy, pointing to many of its manifest virtues and raising questions about some of its central claims and arguments.
This paper argues that political civility is actually an illusionistic ideal and that, as such, realism counsels that we acknowledge both its promise and peril. Political civility is, I will argue, a tension-filled ideal. We have good normative reasons to strive for and encourage more civil political interactions, as they model our acknowledgement of others as equal citizens and facilitate high-quality democratic problem-solving. But we must simultaneously be attuned to civility’s limitations, its possible pernicious side-effects, and its potential for strategic (...) manipulation and oppressive abuse, particularly in contemporary, pluralistic and heterogeneous societies. (shrink)
Contemporary recognition theory has developed powerful tools for understanding a variety of social problems through the lens of misrecognition. It has, however, paid somewhat less attention to how to conceive of appropriate responses to misrecognition, usually making the tacit assumption that the proper societal response is adequate or proper affirmative recognition. In this paper I argue that, although affirmative recognition is one potential response to misrecognition, it is not the only such response. In particular, I would like to make the (...) case for derecognition in some cases: derecognition, in particular, through the systematic deinstitutionalization or uncoupling of various reinforcing components of social institutions, components whose tight combination in one social institution has led to the misrecognition in the first place. I make the case through the example of recent United States debates over marriage, especially but not only with respect to gay marriage. I argue that the proper response to the misrecognition of sexual minorities embodied in exclusively heterosexual marriage codes is not affirmative recognition of lesbian and gay marriages, but rather the systematic derecognition of legal marriage as currently understood. I also argue that the systematic misrecognition of women that occurs under the contemporary institution of marriage would likewise best be addressed through legal uncoupling of heterogeneous social components embodied in the contemporary social institution of marriage. (shrink)
What does social justice require in contemporary societies? What are the requirements of social democracy? Who and where are the individuals and groups that can carry forward agendas for progressive social transformation? What are we to make of the so-called new social movements of the last thirty years? Is identity politics compatible with egalitarianism? Can cultural misrecognition and economic maldistribution be fought simultaneously? What of the heritage of Western Marxism is alive and dead? And how is current critical social theory (...) to approach these and other questions? Much of the most productive work done in recent social theory has revolved around such issues, in particular, around those concerning the relationship between the politics of recognition and the politics of distribution. After the intense theoretical focus over the last fifteen years or so on the issues of recognition politics—multiculturalism, multi-nationalism, identity politics, group-differentiated rights, the accommodation of difference, and so on—some social theorists have worried that attention has been diverted from important issues of distributive equality—systematic impoverishment, increasing material inequality, ‘structural’ unemployment, the growth of oligarchic power, global economic segmentation, and so on. While some critics seem to have adopted a blunt ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ line of criticism,1 others have attempted to develop an overarching, integrative theoretical framework adequate to the diverse issues concerning both economic and cultural justice. For example, Axel Honneth proposes that a suitably developed and normatively robust theory of intersubjective recognition can adequately integrate an analysis of apparently diverse contemporary struggles: those for a just division of labor and hence, a fair distribution of resources and opportunities, as well as those for a culture free of identity-deforming disrespect and denigration. (shrink)