an overly long draft of an encyclopedia article forthcoming in History of Continental Thought, Volume 6: Poststructuralism and Critical Theory: The Return of Master Thinkers, ed. Alan D. Schrift (Acumen Press).
TABLE OF CONTENTS............................................................................................ ....................................................... 2 I. INTRODUCTION........................................................................................ ................................................................... 6..
This chapter continues the institutional design process started in the previous, turning to four different types of modification in the system of constitutional review. I consider, in turn, the establishment of self-review panels in the legislative and executive branches of national governments (A), various mechanisms for inter-branch debate and decisional dispersal concerning constitutional elaboration (B), easing constitutional amendability requirements in overly obdurate systems (C), and finally establishing civic constitutional fora as replacements of traditional amendment procedures (D). In each case the (...) proposals are motivated by the problems of judicial review I identified in the previous chapter, and their design is oriented to the fullest realization of the six assessment values I specified there. I assume throughout that some form of judicial review is extant in the political system, and for the most part I assume the concentrated system with specialized constitutional courts that I argued for there. Where something important hangs on the difference between a concentrated and diffuse system of constitutional courts for the design of these other mechanisms for constitutional elaboration, I take that up in the discussion. (shrink)
Aside from the systematic theory of recognition, Honneth’s work in the last decade has also centered around a less commented-upon theme: the critical social theoretic diagnosis of social pathologies. This paper claims first that his diverse diagnoses of specific social pathologies can be productively united through the conceptual structure evinced by second-order disorders, where there are substantial disconnects, of various kinds, between first-order contents and second-order reflexive understandings of those contents. The second major claim of the paper is that once (...) we understand social pathologies as second-order disorders, it becomes apparent that critical social theory must do more than accurately identify and explicate these disorders at the phenomenological and action-theoretic levels. It must further engage in insightful sociological explanations of the social causes of those pathologies in order to further the prognostic and therapeutic tasks implied by the aim of developing a social theory with emancipatory intent. The paper argues that the identificatory and explicative components of diagnostic social theory have been fulfilled by Honneth to a much greater degree than the latter components of explanation, prognosis and therapy. (shrink)
Perhaps we should change our focus from constitutionalized practices of democracy to democratized practices of constitutionalism. Dworkin and Perry both seek to respond to democratic objections to judicial review by relying on a theory of the legitimacy constraints of democracy itself. According to this view, on some matters, legitimate democracy requires getting the right moral answers. Thus democratic processes must be constitutionalized to ensure such right outcomes on fundamental moral matters. To the extent that judges are better positioned to engage (...) in principled moral reasoning, the arguments continue, we ought to entrust them with ensuring the constitutionalized legitimacy conditions of democracy. I argued that this latter institutional move, however, threatened to simply revive the paternalist worries forcefully articulated by Learned Hand. Waldron’s rights-based objection to rightsbased judicial review, although not dispositive, provided further warning of the moral costs of treating fellow citizens as incapable of reasoning together about the content and proper scope of the legal rights required for democracy. An alternative strategy for justifying judicial review that this chapter investigates is to understand a constitution itself as a product of true democracy, of real popular sovereignty. It is then up to the people, exercising their constituent power at the level of a constitutional assembly, to decide what particular institutional arrangements will best carry forward their collective ideals and decisions. The specific character and structure of those arrangements—whether they are populist or elitist, deliberative or aggregative, sensitive or insulated, electorally accountable or politically independent, and so on—is then a secondary matter. What is central is that the constitutional arrangements the people decide on are, first and foremost, democratically legitimated by the fact that they are the result of authentic popular sovereignty.. (shrink)
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)
For myself it would be most irksome to be ruled by a bevy of Platonic Guardians, even if I knew how to choose them, which I assuredly do not. If they were in charge, I should miss the stimulus of living in a society where I have, at least theoretically, some part in the direction of public affairs. Of course I know how illusory would be the belief that my vote determined anything; but nevertheless when I go to the polls (...) I have a satisfaction in the sense that we are all engaged in a common venture. (shrink)