Two decades of research on euthanasia in the Netherlands have resulted into clear insights in the frequency and characteristics of euthanasia and other medical end-of-life decisions in the Netherlands. These empirical studies have contributed to the quality of the public debate, and to the regulating and public control of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. No slippery slope seems to have occurred. Physicians seem to adhere to the criteria for due care in the large majority of cases. Further, it has been shown (...) that the majority of physicians think that the euthanasia Act has improved their legal certainty and contributes to the carefulness of life-terminating acts. In 2005, eighty percent of the euthanasia cases were reported to the review committees. Thus, the transparency envisaged by the Act still does not extend to all cases. Unreported cases almost all involve the use of opioids, and are not considered to be euthanasia by physicians. More education and debate is needed to disentangle in these situations which acts should be regarded as euthanasia and which should not. Medical end-of-life decision-making is a crucial part of end-of-life care. It should therefore be given continuous attention in health care policy and medical training. Systematic periodic research is crucial for enhancing our understanding of end-of-life care in modern medicine, in which the pursuit of a good quality of dying is nowadays widely recognized as an important goal, in addition to the traditional goals such as curing diseases and prolonging life. (shrink)
In a time of globalization, Political Philosophy for the Global Age provides a theoretical basis for the convergence of human values in terms of legitimate conceptions of time, language, and notions of self. Sánchez Flores reviews what she considers to be the most important positions in the current debate on political theory (liberalism, communitarianism, feminism, and postcolonialism) and also proposes her own original contribution. Sánchez Flores’s unique approach is a critique of a type of morality formulated solely on the basis (...) of the Judeo-Christian view of reality. It is a theoretical construct that becomes an invitation to explore other notions of human morality and an inquiry into the need to produce a political philosophy that universalizes an ethics of caring and responsibility as well as provides a locus where diverse human cultures can meet. (shrink)
Judith Butler's recent work expands the Foucaultian notion of subjection to encompass an analysis of the ways in which subordinated individuals becomes passionately attached to, and thus come to be psychically invested in, their own subordination. I argue that Butler's psychoanalytically grounded account of subjection offers a compelling diagnosis of how and why an attachment to oppressive norms – of femininity, for example – can persist in the face of rational critique of those norms. However, I also argue that (...) her account of individual and collective resistance to subjection is plagued by familiar problems concerning the normative criteria and motivation for resistance that emerge in her recent work in new and arguably more intractable forms, and by new concerns about her conceptions of dependency, subordination and recognition. (shrink)
In this essay I explore the role of dialectics for how social theory can take account of the problem of structure and agency, or, determination and freedom, in a critical and emancipatory way. I discuss the limits and possibilities of dialectical, and of anti-dialectical, criticisms of Hegelian dialectics. For this purpose, I look at Judith Butlers discussion of dialectics and the concepts of sex and gender in her writings between 1987 ( Subjects of Desire ; republished 1999) and 1990 (...) ( Gender Trouble , republished 2000). Butlers book Gender Trouble remains a key text of contemporary feminist theory. Butler formulates in this book a critique of Simone de Beauvoirs The Second Sex based on her claim that Beauvoir makes a distinction between sex and gender that implies the notion of the sexed body as a pre-cultural entity. In her earlier writings, though, her evaluation of de Beauvoir had been much more positive. The change in Butlers evaluation of de Beauvoir is part of her increasing rejection of dialectics: Butler rejected in Gender Trouble any form of Hegelian dialectics with reference to Luce Irigarays (1985) claim that it is phallogocentric. Although Butler subsequently returned to Hegelian themes, she seems never to have revoked this claim made in her most momentous work. I argue that this change in the theoretical structure of Butlers argument weakens her critique of identity politics and I suggest reading Butler backwards, from Gender Trouble to the more open discussion of dialectics in her earlier texts. Drawing on Adornos Negative Dialectics and other formulations of critical theory, I argue that the valid aspects of the critique of Hegelian dialectics can better be formulated as a dialectical critique of dialectics (Adorno; Butler, 1987a) than as a rejection of dialectics (Derrida; Irigaray; Butler, 1990). Retracing the genealogy of Butlers argument will be a necessary backdrop, too, for evaluating her more recent comments on the Hegelian and Frankfurt School traditions such as her Adorno Lectures given in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in November 2002. Key Words: Theodor W. Adorno agency Judith Butler Simone de Beauvoir dialectics emancipation G. W. F. Hegel sex/gender distinction structure subjectivity. (shrink)
Although Judith Butler regards recognition as the theme unifying her work, one finds a striking absence of dialogue between her and the authors of the normative theories of recognition — Honneth, Habermas, Ricoeur, etc. In the present article I seek to call into question this sentiment, shared by the two sides, of a radical theoretical heterogeneity. First I seek to show that the theory of performativity which Butler developed initially, contrary to all expectations, sets her relatively apart from the (...) tradition to which she conforms (the French reading of Hegel), and brings her closer to the proposition represented by the normative theories of recognition in general, and that of Honneth in particular. Then I highlight how the recent modulations in her theory, through the appearance of the idea of a constitutive vulnerability, which enables her to found an ethics, undermine for once and for all the claim of irreducibility maintained by each of the two theories in relation to the other. (shrink)
A welcome addition to the Routledge Critical Thinkers series, Judith Butler is the first guidebook on this renowned feminist and queer theory scholar, which will help not only students of literary criticism but also students of law, sociology, philosophy, film and cultural studies. Examining Butler's work through a variety of contexts, including the formation of gender performativity, identity and subjecthood, Sarah Salih address Butler's crucial ideas on the gender agenda, the body, pornography, race, gay self-expression and power and psychoanalysis. (...) Concluding with an annotated bibliography, this book will be the ideal starting point for all new to Butler. (shrink)
Judith Butler has been arguably the most important gender theorist of the past twenty years. This edited volume draws leading international political theorists into dialogue with her political theory. Each chapter is written by an acclaimed political theorist and concentrates on a particular aspect of Butler's work. The book is divided into five sections which reflect the interdisciplinary nature of Butler's work and activism: Butler and Philosophy: explores Butler’s unique relationship to the discipline of philosophy, considering her work in (...) light of its philosophical contributions Butler and Subjectivity: covers the vexed question of subjectivity with which Butler has engaged throughout her published history Butler and Gender: considers the most problematic area, gender, taken by many to be primary to Butler’s work Butler and Democracy: engages with Butler’s significant contribution to the literature of radical democracy and to thecentral political issues faced by our post-cold war Butler and Action: focuses directly on the question of political agency and political action in Butler’s work. Along with its companion volume, Political Theory of Judith Butler, it marks an intellectual event for political theory, with major implications for feminism, women’s studies, gender studies, cultural studies, lesbian and gay studies, queer theory and anyone with a critical interest in contemporary American ‘great power’ politics. (shrink)
Judith Butler's contribution to feminist political thought is usually approached in terms of her concept of performativity, according to which gender exists only insofar as it is ritualistically and repetitively performed, creating permanent possibilities for performing gender in new and transgressive ways. In this paper, I argue that Butler's politics of performativity is more fundamentally grounded in the concept of genealogy, which she adapts from Foucault and, ultimately, Nietzsche. Butler understands women to have a genealogy: to be located within (...) a history of overlapping practices and reinterpretations of femininity. This genealogical understanding of femininity allows Butler to propose a coalitional feminist politics, which requires no unity among women but only loosely overlapping connections. For Butler, feminist coalitions should aim to subvert, not consolidate, entrenched norms concerning femininity. Butler has been criticized, however, for failing to explain either how subversive agency is possible or why the subversion of gender norms is desirable. Reviewing these criticisms, I argue that Butler offers a convincing explanation of the possibility of subversive agency, but that the normative dimension of her political thought remains relatively underdeveloped. I explore how the normative aspect of Butler's thought could be strengthened by recasting her notion of genealogy along more thoroughly Nietzschean and materialist lines, in terms of an idea of active and multiple bodily forces. (shrink)
: Judith Butler's Kritik der ethischen Gewalt represents a significant refinement of her position on the relationship between the construction of the subject and her social subjection. While Butler's earlier texts reflect a somewhat restricted notion of agency, her Adorno Lectures formulate a notion of agency that extends beyond mere resistance. This essay traces the development of Butler's account of agency and evaluates it in light of feminist projects of social transformation.
In this paper I discuss some thoughts Judith Butler presents regarding corporeal vulnerability. This might help to elucidate the problem of whether critical education is still possible today. I first explain why precisely the possibility of critique within education is a problem for us today. This is because the traditional means of enhancing a critical attitude in pupils, stimulating their self-reflective capacities, contributes to the continued existence and strengthening of the current societal and political regime. A way out of (...) this deadlock is offered from within a Foucauldian perspective. Criticality here refers to an experience of exposure and expropriation of the self. This kind of limit-experience is also of a central importance in the most recent work of Judith Butler. She links this experience to the corporeal condition of susceptibility. Our bodies have a public dimension as we are inescapably exposed to one another. The main argument of my paper has to do with whether this appeal to corporeal vulnerability might offer a new way of thinking about the public realm and about the possibility of critique, especially within the field of education. I conclude the paper by showing the originality of Butler's thought in this respect and the possibilities it opens for thinking in a radically new way about critical pedagogy. (shrink)
Judith Butler's theory of the constitution of subjectivity conceptualizes the subject as a performative materialization of its social environment. In her theory Butler utilizes Louis Althusser's notion of interpellation, and she critiques the constitutive paradoxes to which its tautological framing leads. Although there is no pre-existing subject, as it is constituted in the turn to the interpellative hail, Butler nonetheless theorizes a guilt and compulsion acting on an “individual” that compels his or her turn to answer the hail. There (...) is a price to pay for subjectivity in Butler's schema: the reprimand of the interpellative law that punishes at the same time as it constitutes. But a return to Althusser's text finds that he does not rely so much on coercion and guilt in his explanation of the subject's answer to the hail. Althusser can instead be read as suggesting that we are already an instantiation and enactment of power-ideology and, to paraphrase Michel Foucault, are already the principle of our own “subjection.” This contests the notion that we are in any way compelled to submit to an external, punitive force to become subjects. As subjects, we are always-already the embodiment of the field of society-power-ideology. (shrink)
The chapters of Judith Butler's Giving an Account of Oneself originally were given as the Spinoza Lectures for the Department of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam in the spring of 2002. In this work, Butler returns to the problem of subjectivity and subject formation, but this time in the context of ethics and ethical philosophy. Pulling together ethical considerations and theories of the self from authors including Nietzsche, Foucault, Adorno, and Levinas, Butler deftly and successfully decenters and refocuses (...) ethical analysis by claiming that the subject is not the ground for ethics but rather the problem for ethics. Central to this thesis is the claim that the self is inherently relational, and emerges .. (shrink)
This article utilizes the work of Judith Butler in order to chart a queer and feminist animal studies, an animal studies that celebrates our shared embodied finitude. Butler's commentary on other animals remains dispersed and fragmented throughout books, lectures, and interviews over the course of the last several years. This work is critically synthesized in conjunction with her work on mourning and precarious lives. By developing an anti-anthropocentric understanding of mourning and precarious lives, this article hopes to create ontological, (...) ethical, and political concepts that resist the violence of the present. In so doing, the article contrasts Butler's understanding of precarious life with Giorgio Agamben's understanding of bare life in order to conceive of precariousness as constitutive of social reality. This intellectual labor lays the groundwork for understanding mourning the lives of other animals as a political act that produces new communities, rather than as an individuating and isolating emotion. (shrink)
In light of recent interest among political theorists in the idea of political realism, Judith Shklar’s liberalism of fear has come to be associated with anti-Rawlsian thought. This paper seeks to show that, on the contrary, Shklar’s specific formulation of political realism, unlike more recent variations, was not motivated by a critique of Rawls. This paper will address three concerns: first, it will show what exactly Shklar’s initial realism was responding to; second, it will consider the implications of this (...) realism for thinking about liberal democracies; third, it will attempt, briefly, in light of this, to make sense of her relationship with Rawls and, in turn, through a comparison with Bernard Williams’s thought, her relationship to anti-Rawlsian political realism. (shrink)
Context: Josef Mitterer has become known for criticizing the main exponents of analytic and constructivist philosophy for their blind adoption of a dualistic epistemology based on an alleged ontological difference between world and words. Judith Butler, who has developed an influential model of (de)constructivist feminism and has been labeled a linguistic constructivist, has been criticized for sustaining exactly what, according to Mitterer, most modern philosophy fails to acknowledge: namely that there is no ontological difference between objective facts beyond language (...) and the discourse about these facts. Problem: In the scholarly discussion on non-dualism, two main questions have been raised: Where does Mitterer’s basic consensus, i.e., the starting-point description, come from? and: What does it mean, to say that further descriptions change their object? Method: Comparative analysis of the core concepts of Mitterer’s and Butler’s work in the context of the history of ideas. Results: Butler’s conception of a performative production of objectivity through discursive and non-discursive iterated practices can be interpreted as an illustration of Mitterer’s claim that descriptions change their object. The problem of where Mitterer’s starting-point descriptions come from can be solved by adopting Butler’s concept of culturally inherited practices. (shrink)
In this essay, I evoke and explore Butler's potential contribution, providing a broad framework for her work, and, at the same time, focusing on specific concepts from her writings - performativity, iteration, and foreclosure - that have profound implications for researchers. Furthermore, pointing out philosophers working in the phenomenological tradition in which Butler trained, including influential precursors, colleagues, and contemporaries, establishes how issues raised in various fields can be recognized and comprehended in relation to Butler's work more generally. Butler's work (...) - radical as it may seem - responds to classic questions of ontology, philosophy of language, and epistemology. A phenomenological description aimed at opening access to Butler’s notion of the tropological inauguration of the subject – that is, the ‘turning back’ induced by a limiting boundary that brings subjectivity into experience – attempts to place Butler’s central concepts before the reader. (shrink)
Drawing on The Psychic Life of Power (Butler 1997), this essay sketches the outline of Butler's project of bringing Foucault (politics) and Lacan (psychoanalysis) together. In addressing the psychic life of power, Butler tries to unravel the dynamic interplay of the psychic and the social with the subject as the intersection of both.
The eleven original essays in this collection competently cover a wide range of Robert Stalnaker’s philosophical work, and Stalnaker’s replies to them are clear, well-thought out, and informative. Anyone interested in Stalnaker’s philosophy or the areas covered in this volume is well advised to read it.
Introduction -- Part one : Challenges to the subject -- Subjects in subjection : bodies, desires, and the psychic life of norms -- Moral subjects and agents of morality -- Part two : Responsibility -- Responsibility as response : Levinas and responsibility for others -- Ambivalent desires of responsibility : Laplanche and psychoanalytic translations -- Part three : Critique -- The aporia of critique and the future of moral philosophy -- Critique and political ethics : justice as a question.
Gender as performance and performative -- Body matters : from construction to materialization -- Performativity, subjection and the possibility of agency -- The politics of the performative : hate speech, pornography and "race" -- Beyond identity politics : gender, transgender and sexual difference.