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Profile: Thomas M. Besch (Wuhan University)
  1.  23
    Thomas M. Besch, Political Liberalism and Public Justification: The Deep View.
    The paper advances the deep view of public justification in political liberalism. It contrasts with ideal theory views, including Quong’s variant of an internal conception. I show how the deep view integrates key components of political liberalism’s justification structure, including pro tanto and full justification, political values, reasonableness, neutrality, reasonable comprehensive views, public reasons, the wide view of public political culture, overlapping consensus, political legitimacy, reflective equilibrium and the Original Position. I then contrast the deep view with Quong’s internal conception (...)
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  2.  17
    Thomas M. Besch, Public Justification, Inclusion, and Discursive Equality.
    The paper engages the view that robust public justification sits well with emancipatory and egalitarian intuitions. I distinguish between the depth, scope and the purchase of the kind of discursive respect that such justification allocates to people, and situate within this matrix Rawls’s paradigmatic conception of public justification. On the deep view of its role, Rawls-type public justification allocates a form of discursive respect that is deep in political liberalism’s order of justification, rich in purchase, but notoriously limited in scope. (...)
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  3.  14
    Thomas M. Besch, Schmidtz on Moral Recognition Rules: A Critique.
    David Schmidtz’s reconstruction of morality advances Hart-type recognition rules for a “personal” and an “interpersonal” strand of morality. I argue that his view does not succeed for reasons owed both to the way in which Schmidtz construes of the task of reconstructing morality and the content of the moral recognition rules that he proposes. For Schmidtz, this task must be approached from a Hart-type “internal” perspective, but this leaves his reconstruction with an unresolved problem of parochiality. And he reconstructs morality (...)
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  4. Thomas M. Besch, Reflections on the Foundations of Human Rights.
    Is there an approach to human rights that justifies rights-allocating moral-political principles as principles that are equally acceptable by everyone to whom they apply, while grounding them in categorical, reasonably non-rejectable foundations? The paper examines Rainer Forst’s constructivist attempt to provide such an approach. I argue that his view, far from providing an alternative to “ethical” approaches, depends for its own reasonableness on a reasonably contestable conception of the good, namely, the good of constitutive discursive standing. This suggests a way (...)
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  5.  65
    Thomas M. Besch (2015). On the Right to Justification and Discursive Respect. Dialogue 54 (4):703-726.
    Rainer Forst’s constructivism argues that a right to justification provides a reasonably non-rejectable foundation of justice. With an exemplary focus on his attempt to ground human rights, I argue that this right cannot provide such a foundation. To accord to others such a right is to include them in the scope of discursive respect. But it is reasonably contested whether we should accord to others equal discursive respect. It follows that Forst’s constructivism cannot ground human rights, or justice, categorically. At (...)
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  6. Thomas M. Besch (2013). On Political Legitimacy, Reasonableness, and Perfectionism. Public Reason 5 (1):58-74.
    The paper advances a non-orthodox reading of political liberalism’s view of political legitimacy, the view of public political justification that comes with it, and the idea of the reasonable at the heart of these views. Political liberalism entails that full discursive standing should be accorded only to people who are reasonable in a substantive sense. As the paper argues, this renders political liberalism dogmatic and exclusivist at the level of arguments for or against normative theories of justice. Against that background, (...)
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  7. Thomas M. Besch (2014). On Discursive Respect. Social Theory and Practice 40 (2):207-231.
    Moral and political forms of constructivism accord to people strong, “constitutive” forms of discursive standing and so build on, or express, a commitment to discursive respect. The paper explores dimensions of discursive respect, i.e., depth, scope, and purchase; it addresses tenuous interdependencies between them; on this basis, it identifies limitations of the idea of discursive respect and of constructivism. The task of locating discursive respect in the normative space defined by its three dimensions is partly, and importantly, an ethical task (...)
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  8.  5
    Thomas M. Besch & Jung-Sook Lee, On Toleration in Social Work.
    Toleration is one of many responses toward diversity and difference. With the growing diversity, the theme of toleration has often taken center stage in discussions of multiculturalism and social pluralism. Nonetheless, it has not received much attention in the social work profession. Social workers often encounter situations in which they face a choice between tolerating and not tolerating. We argue that toleration is a legitimate and relevant topic in social work discourse. To make this point, first, this paper discusses different (...)
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  9. Thomas M. Besch (2011). Factualism, Normativism and the Bounds of Normativity. Dialogue 50 (02):347-365.
    The paper argues that applications of the principle that “ought” implies “can” (OIC) depend on normative considerations even if the link between “ought” and “can” is logical in nature. Thus, we should reject a common, “factualist” conception of OIC and endorse weak “normativism”. Even if we use OIC as the rule ““cannot” therefore “not ought””, applying OIC is not a mere matter of facts and logic, as factualists claim, but often draws on “proto-ideals” of moral agency.
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  10. Thomas M. Besch (2012). Political Liberalism, the Internal Conception, and the Problem of Public Dogma. Philosophy and Public Issues 2 (1):153-177.
    According to the “internal” conception (Quong), political liberalism aims to be publicly justifiable only to people who are reasonable in a special sense specified and advocated by political liberalism itself. One advantage of the internal conception allegedly is that it enables liberalism to avoid perfectionism. The paper takes issue with this view. It argues that once the internal conception is duly pitched at its fundamental, metatheoretical level and placed in its proper discursive context, it emerges that it comes at the (...)
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  11. Thomas M. Besch (2010). Diversity and the Limits of Liberal Toleration. In Duncan Ivison (ed.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Multiculturalism. Ashgate
    To fully respond to the demands of multiculturalism, a view of toleration would need to duly respect diversity both at the level of the application of principles of toleration and at the level of the justificatory foundations that a view of toleration may appeal to. The paper examines Rainer Forst’s post-Rawlsian, ‘reason-based’ attempt to provide a view of toleration that succeeds at these two levels and so allows us to tolerate tolerantly. His account turns on the view that a constructivist (...)
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  12.  95
    Thomas M. Besch (2013). On a Reflexive Case for Human Rights. Journal of East-West Thought 3 (4):51-64.
    Can there be a "reflexive" or presuppositional, reasonably non-rejectable grounding of a Forst-type right to justification, or of a meaningful form of constitutive discursive standing? The paper argues that this is not so, and this for reasons that reflect more general limitations of presuppositional arguments for relevantly contested conclusions. To this end, the paper critically engages Forst's "reflexive" argument for human rights. It also considers O'Neill's presuppositional attempt to defend a form of cosmopolitanism, as well as the attempt to anchor (...)
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  13. Thomas M. Besch (2011). Kantian Constructivism, the Issue of Scope, and Perfectionism: O'Neill on Ethical Standing. European Journal of Philosophy 19 (1):1-20.
    Kantian constructivists accord a constitutive, justificatory role to the issue of scope: they typically claim that first-order practical thought depends for its authority on being suitably acceptable within the right scope, or by all relevant others, and some Kantian constructivists, notably Onora O'Neill, hold that our views of the nature and criteria of practical reasoning also depend for their authority on being suitably acceptable within the right scope. The paper considers whether O'Neill-type Kantian constructivism can coherently accord this key role (...)
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  14. Thomas M. Besch (2008). Constructing Practical Reason: O'Neill on the Grounds of Kantian Constructivism. Journal of Value Inquiry 42 (1):55-76.
    The paper addresses O'Neill's view that her version of Kant's Categorical Imperative, namely, the requirement of followability (RF), marks the supreme principle of reason; it takes issue with her claim that RF commits us to Kantian constructivism in practical philosophy. The paper distinguishes between two readings of RF: on a weak reading, RF ranges over all (practical) reasoning but does not commit to constructivism, and on a strong version RF commits to constructivism but fails to meet its own test, and (...)
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  15. Thomas M. Besch (2004). On Practical Constructivism and Reasonableness. Dissertation, University of Oxford
    The dissertation defends that the often-assumed link between constructivism and universalism builds on non-constructivist, perfectionist grounds. To this end, I argue that an exemplary form of universalist constructivism – i.e., O’Neill’s Kantian constructivism – can defend its universalist commitments against an influential particularist form of constructivism – i.e., political liberalism as advanced by Rawls, Macedo, and Larmore – only if it invokes a perfectionist view of the good. (En route, I show why political liberalism is a form of particularism and (...)
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  16. Thomas M. Besch (1998). Über John Rawls' Politischen Liberalismus. Peter Lang.
    (In German.) The book addresses Rawls's post-1985 political liberalism. His justification of political liberalism -- as reflected in his arguments from overlapping consensus -- faces the problem that liberal content can be justified as reciprocally acceptable only if the addressees of such a justification already endorse points of view that suitably support liberal ideas. Rawls responds to this legitimacy-theoretical problem by restricting public justification's scope to include reasonable people only, while implicitly defining reasonableness as a substantive liberal virtue. But this (...)
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  17. Thomas M. Besch (1998). Über John Rawls' Politischen Liberalismus Zur Rolle des Vernünftigen in Rawls' Begründung Einer Politischen Gerechtigkeitstheorie.
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