Miriam Bankovsky
La Trobe University
This thesis examines the relation between two contrasting approaches to justice: the constructive and reconstructive projects of Rawls and Habermas on the one hand, and the deconstructive projects of Levinas and Derrida on the other. First, I identify the central difference between the two projects, reconstructing each account of justice as it develops in relation to Kant’s practical philosophy. I then argue that the two projects are complementary. [New Paragraph] Whilst Rawls and Habermas emphasise the possibility of objectively realising Kant’s idea of an impartial standpoint among autonomous persons, Levinas and Derrida defend the impossibility of determining the content of justice. Rawls and Habermas subscribe to the “art of the possible”, rendering Kant’s impartial standpoint by means of the “original position” or the “procedures of discourse ethics”. By contrast, Levinas argues for justice’s failure, discovering, in Kant’s moral law, a principle of responsibility for the particular other which conflicts with impartiality. Distinguishing himself from both the reconstructive tradition and Levinas, Derrida affirms, in part through his readings of Kant, the “undecidability” of the critical function of justice. Committed to the possibility of justice, Derrida also acknowledges its impossibility: no local determination can reconcile responsibility before the other with impartiality among all. [New Paragraph] Having identified the central difference between the two traditions, I then defend their complementarity. “Reasonable faith” in the possibility of justice must be supplemented by the acknowledgment of its impossibility. Conversely, attesting to justice’s failure is unsatisfactory without commitment to the possibility of constructing just social forms. Distancing myself from the liberal critique whereby deconstruction withdraws from the political, I instead add my voice to a dissenting group which affirms that deconstruction can productively engage with the constructive tradition. Deconstruction is at home in Rawls’ view that “the ideal of a just constitution is always something to be worked toward”.
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Fair Trade and the Fetishization of Levinasian Ethics.Juan Ignacio Staricco - 2016 - Journal of Business Ethics 138 (1):1-16.
The Turn From Ontology to Ethics: Three Kantian Responses to Three Levinasian Critiques.Simon Truwant - 2014 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 22 (5):696-715.
Justice in Emmanuel Levinas and John Rawls.Joshua Shaw - 2020 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 28 (4):471-487.
Justice in Emmanuel Levinas and John Rawls.Joshua Shaw - 2020 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 28 (4):471-487.

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