Response To Jason Springs

Journal of Religious Ethics 48 (2):299-307 (2020)
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Abstract

Jason Springs’s Healthy Conflict in Contemporary American Society is a masterful attempt to practice productive conflict and democratic dialogue in the face of static antagonisms and deep‐seated divisions. In my response, I underscore Springs’s insistence on mediating between the moral imagination of Richard Rorty and the prophetic critique of Cornel West. For the author of Healthy Conflict, any hope in the survival of democracy relies on balancing critique of domination with constructive proposals for a more just and equitable world. On the one hand, Springs rejects any strong distinction between moral imagination and socio‐political critique; in fact, he argues for their intertwinement, especially in the work of West. At the same time, there are moments when he suggests an opposition between expanding the moral imagination and engaging in the critical enterprise, especially as he identifies the limits in Foucault regarding normativity and democratic struggle. I respond to this slippage by arguing that Foucault, and critical theory more broadly, open up possibilities for rethinking ethics, politics, and our relationship to the violence that sustains the order of things.

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