Wonder and generosity -- Love and respect -- Responding to difference and similarity -- The relation between ethics and politics -- Cosmopolitanism, hospitality and refugees -- Wonder, radical evil and forgiveness -- Apology, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Derrida's purpose in ‘Death Penalties’ (2004), is to show how both arguments in favour of capital punishment, exemplified by Kant's, and arguments for its abolition, such as those of Beccaria, are deconstructible. He claims that ‘never, to my knowledge, has any philosopher as a philosopher, in his or her own strictly and systematically philosophical discourse, never has any philosophy as such contested the legitimacy of the death penalty.’ (2004, 146) Derrida also asks how it is possible ‘to abolish the death (...) penalty in a way that is based on principle, that is universal and unconditional, and not because it has become not only cruel but useless, insufficiently exemplary?’ (2004, 137) In my paper, I examine Derrida's claim about the lack of systematic opposition to the death penalty on the part of philosophers and suggest an answer to his question concerning the possibility of a universal and unconditional opposition to capital punishment. (shrink)
Iris Marion Young argues we cannot understand others’ experiences by imagining ourselves in their place or in terms of symmetrical reciprocity (1997a). For Young, reciprocity expresses moral respect and asymmetry arises from people’s greatly varying life histories and social positions. La Caze argues there are problems with Young’s articulation of asymmetrical reciprocity in terms of wonder and the gift. By discussing friendship and political representation, she shows how taking self-respect into account complicates asymmetrical reciprocity.
: Is love essential to ethical life, or merely a supplement? In Kant's view, respect and love, as duties, are in tension with each other because love involves drawing closer and respect involves drawing away. By contrast, Irigaray says that love and respect do not conflict because love as passion must also involve distancing and we have a responsibility to love. I argue that love, understood as passion and based on respect, is essential to ethics.
: In a reading of René Descartes's The Passions of the Soul, Luce Irigaray explores the possibility that wonder, first of all passions, can provide the basis for an ethics of sexual difference because it is prior to judgment, and thus nonhierarchical. For Descartes, the passion of generosity gives the key to ethics. I argue that wonder should be extended to other differences and should be combined with generosity to form the basis of an ethics.
Envy and resentment are generally thought to be unpleasant and unethical emotions which ought to be condemned. I argue that both envy and resentment, in some important forms, are moral emotions connected with concern for justice, understood in terms of desert and entitlement. They enable us to recognise injustice, work as a spur to acting against it and connect us to others. Thus, we should accept these emotions as part of the ethical life.