Equal consideration of all – an aporetic project?

Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (3):299-323 (2006)
The article considers the relationships among three arguments that purport to establish the intrinsically contradictory or paradoxical nature of the modern project aiming at the equal consideration of all. The claim that the inevitable historical insertion of universal-egalitarian norms leads to always particular and untransparent interpretations of grammatically universal norms may be combined with the claim that the logic of determination of political communities tends to generate exclusions. The combination of these two claims lends specific force to the third argument according to which equal consideration perpetually requires the non-egalitarian project of understanding individuals on their own terms. Hence, taking off from a recent debate between Christoph Menke and Jürgen Habermas, I argue that the former is right to diagnose an aporetic self-reflection in egalitarian universalism, while agreeing with the latter about the indispensability of deliberative democratic frameworks for the defence of both egalitarian and non-egalitarian norms. Key Words: Theodor Adorno • deliberative democracy • Jacques Derrida • egalitarianism • equality • Jürgen Habermas • Christoph Menke • singularity • universalism
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DOI 10.1177/0191453706063206
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