At the Intersection: Kant, Derrida, and the Relation between Ethics and Politics

Political Theory 35 (6):781 - 805 (2007)
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To elucidate the tensions in the relation between ethics and politics, I construct a dialogue between Kant, who argues that they can be made compatible, and Derrida, who claims to go beyond Kant and his idea of duty. For Derrida, ethics makes unconditional demands and politics guides our responses to possible effects of our decisions. Derrida argues that in politics there must be a negotiation of the non-negotiable call of ethical responsibility. I argue that Derrida's unconditional ethics cannot be read in precisely Kantian terms because his 'impossible reals' can be destructive. Moreover, Derrida expands the reach of ethics beyond Kant by making all ethical demands unconditional or perfect, yet he does not articulate a politics that would enable us to respond to these demands. We need to take account of these difficulties in theorizing how ethics should constrain politics and how politics can provide the conditions for ethics.



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Marguerite La Caze
University of Queensland

References found in this work

The Politics of Friendship.Jacques Derrida - 1988 - Journal of Philosophy 85 (11):632-644.
Not Just Visitors.Marguerite La Caze - 2004 - Philosophy Today 48 (3):313-324.

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