One of the major problems posed by the human rights issue to philosophy is its philosophical foundation. The background of this discussion raises questions such as: how can one philosophically explain / justify the demand for human rights recognition? This paper focuses on the argumentative basis on which Höffe structures his proposal. For him human rights are closely connected to the concept of justice. This concept must be understood primarily as an exchange (Gerechtigkeit als Tausch). Although the concept seems simple, (...) it offers many difficulties regarding its foundation. (shrink)
Chapters 17 and 18 of the TTP constitute a textual unit in which Spinoza submits the case of the ancient Hebrew state to close examination. This is not the work of a historian, at least not in any sense that we, twenty-first century readers, would recognize as such. Many of Spinoza’s claims in these chapters are highly speculative, and seem to be poorly backed by historical evidence. Other claims are broad-brush, ahistorical generalizations: for example, in a marginal note, Spinoza refers (...) to his Jewish contemporaries as if they were identical with the ancient Hebrews. Projections from Spinoza’s own experience of his Jewish and Dutch contemporaries are quite common, and the Erastian lesson that Spinoza attempts to draw from his “history” of the ancient Hebrew state is all too conspicuous. Even Spinoza’s philosophical arguments in these two chapters are not uniformly convincing, as I will attempt to show. Yet in spite of all these faults, the two chapters are a masterpiece of their own kind: a case study of the psychological foundations of politics and religion. The work that comes closest in my mind is Freud’s 1939 Der Mann Moses und die monotheistische Religion. The two works are similar not only in terms of their chronological subject matter – the Hebrews of Moses’s time – but also in their attempt to reconstruct the communal psyche of the Hebrews in order to demonstrate their respective social theories about the foundation of civilization. Needless to say, there are numerous differences between the two works, not the least of which are their distinct aims and the very different political contexts in which they were produced. We will return to this comparison with Freud’s Moses and Monotheism toward the end of the essay, but let me first stage the background for our discussion. Chapter 16 of the TTP begins a new section of the book which primarily deals with the relation between religion and the state. In this chapter Spinoza presents an outline of his political theory and his understanding of key notions such as right, power, the state of nature, the social contract, sovereignty, democracy, and justice. The title of chapter 17 announces its aim and focus: “showing that no one can transfer everything to the Supreme Power, and that this is not necessary; on the Hebrew Republic, as it was during the life of Moses, and after his death, before they elected Kings, and on its excellence; and finally, on the causes why the divine Republic [Respublica divina] could perish, and could hardly survive without rebellions” (III/201). The far less ambitious title of eighteenth chapter states that in it “certain Political doctrines are inferred from the Republic and history of the Hebrews” (III/221). Essentially, the two chapters present a surprising, ironic, and penetrating reading of the story of the divine Hebrew Republic, a reading which highlights both how much and how little was achieved by the use of the fantastic political device of attributing divine sanctification to the state and its sovereign. (shrink)
Introduction: the foundation of justice -- Practical reason and justifying reasons: on the foundation of morality -- Moral autonomy and the autonomy of morality: toward a theory of normativity after Kant -- Ethics and morality -- The justification of justice: Rawls's political liberalism and Habermas's discourse theory in dialogue -- Political liberty: integrating five conceptions of autonomy -- A critical theory of multicultural toleration -- The rule of reasons: three models of deliberative democracy -- Social justice, justification, and power -- (...) The basic right to justification: toward a constructivist conception of human rights -- Constructions of transnational justice: comparing John Rawls's the law of peoples and Otfried Höffe's democracy in an age of globalisation -- Justice, morality, and power in the global context -- Toward a critical theory of transnational justice. (shrink)
Maxims play a crucial role in Kant's ethical philosophy, but there is significant disagreement about what maxims are. In this two-part essay, I survey eight different views of Kantian maxims, presenting their strengths, and their weaknesses. Part I: Established Approaches, begins with Rüdiger Bubner's view that Kant took maxims to be what ordinary people of today take them to be, namely pithily expressed precepts of morality or prudence. Next comes the position, most associated with Rüdiger Bittner and Otfried Höffe, (...) that maxims are Lebensregeln, or 'life-rules'– quite general rules for how to conduct oneself based on equally general outlooks on how the world is. These first two interpretations make sense of Kant's claim, made in his anthropological and pedagogical writings, that we have to learn how to act on maxims, but they become less plausible in light of Kant's probable view that people always act on maxims – after all, how can people learn how to act on something they always act on anyway? The next two views, each advanced, at different times, by Onora O'Neill, make better sense of the fact that people always act on maxims, for they hold that maxims are intentions – either specific intentions, such as 'to open the door', or general intentions, such as 'to make guests feel welcome'– and it is perfectly sensible to claim that people always act on intentions. However, they face the same problem as the two previous views, which is that if people always act on maxims, what sense does it make to say they also have to learn how to act on them? Henry Allison, the main representative of the fifth view, claims, on the basis of Kant's doctrine of the 'highest maxim', that maxims are principles organized hierarchically, such that an agent endorses one maxim because she endorses a more general maxim. Unfortunately for Allison, there is little direct textual support for his claim that maxims are organized hierarchically. (shrink)
This series makes available in English important recent work by German philosophers on major figures in the German philosophical tradition. The volumes will provide critical perspectives on philosophers of great significance to the Anglo-American philosophical community--perspectives that have been largely ignored except by a handful of writers on German philosophy. This collection brings together in translation the finest post-war German language scholarship on Hegel's social and political philosophy, concentrating on the Elements of the Philosophy of Right.