Justice without Solidarity? Collective Identity and the Fate of the ‘Ethical’ in Habermas' Recent Political Theory

European Journal of Philosophy 26 (1):546-568 (2018)

Andrew Pierce
Florida Atlantic University
In past work, Habermas has claimed that justice and solidarity stand in a complementary relationship—that ‘ethical’ relations of solidarity are the ‘reverse side’ of justice. Yet in a recent address to the World Congress of Philosophy, he rejects this idea. This paper argues against this rejection. After explaining the idea, arguing for its centrality to Habermas' thought, and evaluating Habermas' scant reflections on this major transformation, I argue that his rejection of the idea is a result of a newfound skepticism about the power of secular reason, and should thus be understood in terms of his corresponding turn to religious traditions as alternative sources of solidarity. I argue against this ‘religious turn’ by developing an alternative advocated by Habermas himself in earlier reflections—attention to real sociopolitical movements. In particular, I analyze feminist and black liberation movements to demonstrate that Habermas' pessimism about secular sources of justice-producing solidarity is unwarranted, and that, while ‘postsecular’ sources may provide one avenue for actionable solidarity, they are not the only one. I conclude by identifying a conceptual commonality in these two alternatives: an inclusive conception of what it means to be human.
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Reprint years 2017, 2018
DOI 10.1111/ejop.12273
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[Book Review] the Racial Contract. [REVIEW]Charles W. Mills - 1999 - Social Theory and Practice 25 (1):155-160.
The Future of Human Nature.Jurgen Habermas - 2004 - Philosophy 79 (309):483-486.

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