As people look for a way to ground their judgments of moral, political, aesthetic claims in the face of the postmodernists who claim nothing can be grounded, Reflective Authenticity attempts to rescue some of the critical ideals of the Enlightenment without falling prey to those who say that the Enlightenment's tenets of objectivity, reason, liberalism makes this impossible and in the face of multiculturalism, difference, and the death of subject, are outdated. Alessandro Ferrara suggests that the notion of reflective authenticity (...) offers the key to a new kind of exemplary universalism which, different from the generalizing universalism typical of modern thought, does not fall under the critique of foundationalism articulated by postmodernist thinkers. (shrink)
Whereas exemplarity has long been thought to belong to the domain of aesthetics, this book explores the other uses to which it can be put in our philosophical predicament, especially in the field of politics.
In this paper the notion of sensus communis, as articulated by Kant in the Critique of the Power of Judgment, is discussed from the vantage point of the author's project of exporting the model of exemplary universalism underlying reflective and, specifically, aesthetic judgment beyond the realm of aesthetics. In the first section, the relevance of such a project relative to an appraisal of the new and unsuperseded philosophical context opened by the Linguistic Turn is elucidated. Then the centrality of sensus (...) communis, for making sense of the specific universalism inherent in reflective judgment, is highlighted. In the second section, the limitations inherent in two opposite strategies for conceptualizing sensus communis are discussed: namely, the hermeneutic idea of a `horizon' and the phenomenological notion of a life-world on one hand, and the Kantian minimalist, naturalized concept of sensus communis on the other. The former is argued to become entangled in relativism, the latter to run against our intuitions concerning the inter-subjective constitution of the subject. In the final section, a third notion of sensus communis is offered, still compatible with the Kantian conception, different from the Gadamerian concept of a tradition or to the phenomenological notion of Lebenswelt, yet still capable of offering a plausible ground for the exemplary universalism of aesthetic judgment. Expanding on Kant's view of aesthetic pleasure, sensus communis is understood as consisting of a universal capacity, on the part of every human being, to sense from within a plurality of coordinates the flourishing of human life and what favours it. (shrink)
This essay is about the difficulties connected with grounding human rights philosophically in a multicultural context. These difficulties are argued to derive from the tension between our aspiration to universal validity and our shared belief in the constitutive role of life-forms, traditions, cultures, and vocabularies vis-à-vis our conceptions of justice. Rawls's and Habermas's approaches to the justification of human rights are then briefly reconstructed and assessed. A symmetrical distribution of strong and weak points is argued to obtain. In the light (...) of this reconstruction, the author explores the potential of his judgment view of justice for providing a justification of the universality of human rights not vulnerable to the difficulties of the other examined approaches. (shrink)
In the global world, momentous migratory tides have produced hyper-pluralism on the domestic scale, bringing citizens with radically different conceptions of life, justice and the good to coexist side by side. Conjectural arguments about the acceptance of pluralism, the next best to public reason when shared premises are too thin, may not succeed in convincing all constituencies. What resources, then, can liberal democracy mobilize? The multivariate democratic polity is the original answer to this question, based on an interpretation of Rawls (...) which revisits Political Liberalism in the light of The Law of Peoples . The unscrutinized assumption is highlighted, often read into Rawls’s Political Liberalism , that a polity moves homogeneously and all of a piece from religious conflict to modus vivendi, constitutional consensus and finally to overlapping consensus. Drawing on The Law of Peoples , a different picture can be obtained. (shrink)
Translated from the 1989 Italian edition, Ferrara (sociology, U. of Rome) intertwines an exploration of the ethical and social thought of 17th-century French philosopher Rousseau, with an analysis of contemporary culture through those ...
This article examines recent theories of democratic citizenship as well as the institutional separation of religion and politics in light of shortcomings with the traditional secularization thesis. Due to the fact that juridical norms and forms of consciousness develop at a more rapid pace than religious ones, received accounts of both democratic equality and toleration need to be reconceptualized. Questions concerning the legitimacy and neutrality of religious reasoning in democratic politics, as pursued in the work of Rawls and Habermas, also (...) need to be informed by further reflection on the confessional context and other empirical features of post-secular societies. Comparing the politics of same-sex marriage in Canada and Italy helps to illustrate this point. (shrink)
The recent wave of whistleblowers and cyber-dissidents, from Julian Assange to Edward Snowden, has declared war against surveillance. In this context, transparency is presented as an attainable political goal that can be delivered in flesh and bones by spectacular and quasi-messianic moments of disclosure. The thesis of this article is that, despite its progressive promise, the project of releasing classified documents is in line with the Orwellian cold war trope of Big Brother rather than with the complex geography of surveillance (...) today. By indicting the US federal government as the principal agent of surveillance, the ‘logic of the leak’ obfuscates that today’s surveillance is conducted mostly by the private sector in the form of dataveillance. What should we think, then, of this new fetish of transparency? Is it a symptom of the castigation of a desire for surveillance, the wish to be constantly observed and closely inspected? I claim that the meaning of the ‘expository society’, as Bernard Harcourt calls it, depends on how we interpret secrets. For secrets are not only temporary conditions of occultation that can, and should, be indiscriminately exposed, but sites of agency. In this perspective, the emancipatory promise hangs on the right to the secret, assumed as the right not to answer and not to belong. (shrink)
After focusing on the understanding and the prospect of post-secular society (2008), probing the fruitfulness of expanding multiculturalism into multicultural jurisdictions (2009) and investigating a possible realignment of major liberal notions (2010), in 2011 the so-called ‘trap of resentment’ has been at the center of the İstanbul Seminars. The three sections of this special issue – which collects together the contributions discussed in İstanbul between 19 to 24 May 2011 – are devoted to various facets of the task of inverting (...) the trend and setting a virtuous circle of understanding and trust across cultural and religious divides: (a) identifying the sources and consequences of xenophobic and anti-Moslem resentment as well as the possible remedies (Abdullahi A. An-Nacim, Claus Offe, Rajeev Bhargava, Stefano Allievi, Volker Kaul, Ayan Kaya); (b) rethinking and redesigning the received models for the peaceful coexistence of diversity (Charles Taylor, Anthony Appiah, Alessandro Ferrara, Beate Roessler, David Rasmussen, Fuat Keyman); and (c) tracing and assessing the emerging patterns of the political transformation of Islam (Akeel Bilgrami, José Casanova, Fred Dallmayr, Zaid Eyadat, Dick Howard, Nouzha Guessous). (shrink)
This article problematizes the republican reliance on contemporary ‘states as they are’ as protectors and guarantors of the republican notion of freedom as non-domination. While the principle of freedom as non-domination constitutes an advance over the liberal principle of freedom as non-interference, its reliance on the national, territorial, legal-technical and extra-economic contemporary state prevents the theoretical uncovering of its full potential. The article argues that to make the most of the principle of freedom as non-domination, a strong Athenian element is (...) required. The democratic confederalist project that is being experimented with by Syrian Kurds in the cantons of Rojava, it is maintained, can contribute theoretically and practically to this republican ideal through its democratic and participatory mechanisms, despite fundamental challenges it has to face. (shrink)
With the publication of Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns (1981) and of his essays “A Reply to my Critics” (1982), “Diskursethik — Notizen zu einem Bugründungsprogramm” (1983), “Moralbewusstsein und kommunikatives Handeln” (1983), and “Über Moralität und Sitdichkeit — Was macht eine Lebensform ‘rational’?” (1984), Habermas has considerably developed and systematized his views on ethics. Up to Communication and the Evolution of Society (1979), ethics had been of interest to Habermas mainly insofar as certain concepts related to it — such as the (...) ideal speech situation, communicative action, presuppositions of argumentation, etc. — were crucial for the purpose of grounding a universalistic point of view in philosophy and in social theory. (shrink)
The deliberative model of politics has recently been criticized for not being very well equipped to conceptualize current developments such as the misinterpretation of political difference, the digital turn, and public protests. A first critique is that this model assumes a conception of public spheres that is too idealistic. A second objection is that it misconceives the relationship between empirical reality and normativity. Third, it is assumed that deliberative democracy offers an antiquated notion of a shared ‘we’ of political actors (...) and because of this, fourth, fails to take into consideration the ‘digital turn’, in particular the de-personalizing effects of social media that have led to a rapid decline of the public sphere. And a fifth critique states that the deliberative model ignores the fact that politics is not, and especially protests and revolutions are not, seminar-like debates but spontaneous, chaotic and sometimes violent expressions. I will argue that all of these critiques fall short in a variety of ways. A deliberative model of politics allows us to address the tension between the ideal and the real, the ‘old media’ and the so-called digitalization of public spheres as well as peaceful discourse and violent uprisings. Especially the concept of communicative power, a notion also used by Hannah Arendt and Jürgen Habermas, reveals the potentials for future participation in digital spaces and public places. (shrink)
Established in 1923, Turkey has been a republic without a dominant republican conception of liberty. A chance to install such a conception was missed in the early republican period and never recaptured. The republic was unable to get rid of vestiges of the authoritarian tradition of the past. Centuries-old authoritarian tradition persisted well into the recent and the contemporary periods. Presenting ample evidence, the article underlines the weight of history and the legacy of authoritarian mentality that promoted the use of (...) authority, not liberty, in political problem-solving. The initial failure to abandon an authoritarian problem-solving approach proved fateful for the chances of the deepening of democracy in Turkey. (shrink)
International criminal law is dedicated to the battle against impunity. However, the concept of impunity lacks clarity. Providing that clarity also reveals challenges for the current state and future prospects of the project of ICL, which this article frames in cosmopolitan terms. The ‘impunity norm’ of ICL is generally presented in a deontic form. It holds that impunity for perpetrators of international crimes is a wrong so profound that states and international bodies have a pro tanto duty to prosecute and (...) punish perpetrators, a duty that cannot be overridden by considerations of cost, including the costs of infringing on the traditionally understood legal sovereignty of states. This deontic reading of the impunity norm is difficult to justify, a fact linked to the waning fortunes of ICL over the past several years. If ICL is to reverse this trend, the impunity norm’s strongly deontic reading should be replaced by a version derived from deliberative principles. (shrink)
In this article by way of reply, the author responds to the challenging comments on The Democratic Horizon provided by Michelman, Benhabib, White, Scheuerman and Laden. In response to Michelman, some reflections are propounded on the function of judicial review, in order to alleviate the tension between two understandings of the mandate of the highest interpreter of the constitution as aimed at remedying either an occlusion of democratic authorship or a shortfall of agreement, and on the need to rethink how (...) the authority of the supreme interpreter relates to the will of the people in a deeply changed historical context. In response to Benhabib, the author discusses the new limits of the accommodation of diversity in Fairburg, a fictional polity that expands the Rawlsian standard of ‘reasonable disagreement’, and defends the normative relevance and democratic credentials of his notion of ‘multivariate polity’. In response to White, after recalling the importance of putting the ‘democratic ethos’ at the center of a reflection on the democratic quality of complex societies where formal procedures often mask elitist substance, the author defends the ‘political, not metaphysical’ credentials of ‘openness’ and accepts a complementarity of ‘openness’ and ‘presumptive generosity’. In response to Scheuerman, the author restates his focus on the democratic ethos as a supplement to, not a replacement of, the reflection on democratic procedures and defends the conceptual diversity of governance from government. In response to Laden, the author highlights the diversity of contexts to which his own and Laden’s versions of ‘democratic justification’ are responding and defends a more moderate version of ‘openness’, which still keeps constitutional essentials and political values shielded from ongoing questioning. Finally, the author interprets the debate aroused by The Democratic Horizon as indicative of the persistent vitality of the Rawlsian legacy in the 21st century. (shrink)
The argument that sectarian conflicts in the Arab Middle East have been persistent since time immemorial is erroneous. While these views may seem compelling with the rise of ISIL, they are in fact very dangerous: they downgrade Islamic societies to primordial, selective and static features. I will argue for a different set of propositions. First, violence is not unique to Islamic societies. Extreme illiberal ideologies prevailed in Christian Europe both during the Thirty Years War and during the fascist interwar period. (...) Second, Islamist belligerence was partly a response to the ill-effects of globalization, just as European fascist movements were exacerbated by the advance of industrial capitalism in Europe. Third, post-Second World War human rights efforts may inform new paths beyond the tragedies that continue to plague the Middle East. (shrink)
Reflexive pluralism is here put forward as the conception that is most reasonable for supporters of political liberalism to hold at a period when the reasons justifying acceptance of political and religious pluralism seem inadequate.
This is the text of a conversation that follows up on Roberto Farneti’s article “A Minor Philosophy: The State of the Art of Philosophical Scholarship in Italy” published in Philosophia 38 (1) 2009: 1–28. After a brief introductory note that details the reception of the article in Italy, Ferrara and Farneti engage in a conversation on the notion of “minor philosophy” and on the meaning and future of philosophizing “from the periphery” in a globalized world. The text is followed by (...) a short Appendix, a reply to Annalisa Coliva’s commentary on Farneti’s article. (shrink)
This paper engages with Ferrajoli’s contribution to the philosophical debate on constitutional democracy and in particular his conception of ‘structural entrenchment’, or the basis upon which one can defend the normativity of the Constitution as ‘higher law’, which can trump or limit legislation, without infringing democratic principles. Ferrajoli’s own understanding of ‘structural entrenchment’ is compared to Rawls’s and Dworkin’s arguments in support of it. Ferrajoli’s position is neither grounded on a philosophy of history, as in Rawls, nor on a version (...) of moral realism, as for Dworkin, but on a formal understanding of the nature of fundamental rights, and in a conception of democratic sovereignty as ‘joint ownership.’. (shrink)
The main purpose of the paper is to contribute to reconstructing the kind of normativity underlying Rawls’s notion of public reason and of the reasonable. The implicit target is the somewhat popular view according to which the transition from the framework of A Theory of Justice to that of Political Liberalism would entail a loss of normativity. On the contrary, the related ideas of public reason and the reasonable are argued to presuppose a notion of normativity – linked with judgment (...) – far more consistent with the premise of the fact of pluralism. After reconstructing Rawls’s notion of public reason, the two following problems are addressed: the problem of determining when allegedly shared truths, the building stones of public reason, are really such and, second, the problem of what it means for one reason to follow or proceed from a shared basis. In the context of such discussion three distinct meanings of the term ‘reasonable’ are identified, and the normatively more demanding one – the notion of some thesis or proposal being not just reasonable, but comparatively ‘more reasonable’ than another – is found to require that the reasonable be understood as the exemplary and, consequently, that we find ways to translate the Kantian doctrine of the exemplary yet universalist validity of aesthetic judgments into a non-aesthetic vocabulary. (shrink)
After focusing on the understanding and the prospect of post-secular society (2008), probing the fruitfulness of expanding multiculturalism into multicultural jurisdictions (2009) and investigating a possible realignment of major liberal notions (2010), in 2011 the so-called ‘trap of resentment’ has been at the center of the Istanbul Seminars. The three sections of this special issue – which collects together the contributions discussed in Istanbul between 19 to 24 May 2011 – are devoted to various facets of the task of inverting (...) the trend and setting a virtuous circle of understanding and trust across cultural and religious divides: (a) identifying the sources and consequences of xenophobic and anti-Moslem resentment as well as the possible remedies (Abdullahi A. An-Na c im, Claus Offe, Rajeev Bhargava, Stefano Allievi, Volker Kaul, Ayan Kaya); (b) rethinking and redesigning the received models for the peaceful coexistence of diversity (Charles Taylor, Anthony Appiah, Alessandro Ferrara, Beate Roessler, David Rasmussen, Fuat Keyman); and (c) tracing and assessing the emerging patterns of the political transformation of Islam (Akeel Bilgrami, José Casanova, Fred Dallmayr, Zaid Eyadat, Dick Howard, Nouzha Guessous). (shrink)
The modern republican history of Turkey and its relation with the question of ethnic diversity could be understood via the tension between the processes of system integration and social integration. This article, based on Jürgen Habermas’ conceptual framework, draws the sources of such tension with reference to the Kurdish identity in Turkey since the early republican era. For this purpose, from the 1920s to the 2000s, policies and discourses of system integration aiming at a certain degree of ethnic homogenization to (...) eliminate ‘possible threats’ to territorial integrity and national unity are discussed in detail. While system integration processes reflect an exclusionary and assimilative-securitist logic of state practices regarding the Kurdish question, this article argues that the Kurdish challenge to republicanism and to its system integration logic promises more for the dynamics of social integration. Especially since the 1990s, while processes of system integration are still in force; national, regional and diasporic achievements of Kurdish politics and its call for a democratic transformation of the republic based on decentralist, participatory and multiculturalist values have become much more visible. This new focus on democratic transformation demands more for social integration through internalization of roles as well as through promotion of an active communication between citizens by raising the claims of active participation to social and political spheres as well as by making identity visible in different aspects of socio-cultural life. Degree of social integration and its success vis-à-vis system integration will be decisive in the democratic transformation of Turkey in the future. (shrink)
The question of immigration and its corollary community and minority formation has always been analysed in relation to states. However, the increasing importance of solidarity beyond national borders on the grounds of one or several identities – national, religious, ethnic, regional – removes the claim of recognition of a collective identity from a national level to an international level and, in the European Union, to a supranational level. Such an evolution places territory at the core of the analysis of citizenship (...) and nationhood, for communities as well as states. This article will attempt to show that in this new configuration, negotiations between states and immigrants are brought beyond borders in order for states to maintain the ‘power’ of incorporation and citizenship while expanding their influence beyond their territories and to compete with transnational communities in their engagement in the process of globalization. (shrink)
Nel processo di digitalizzazione dei testi sembrano emergere somiglianze e analogie con quegli anni del medioevo durante i quali si assiste all'incontro fra la tradizione latina occidentale e il patrimonio culturale di provenienza greca e araba. Due mondi che traducono per conoscere e per conservare: provare a confrontarli può aiutare a chiarire qualcosa sia dell'uno che dell'altro.
How should one define the republican democratic and ‘laïque’ spirit in both the most concise and effective manner, as well as that most suited to the French case? The republican spirit resides without doubt in refusing submission to any single individual whoever that individual may be. The democratic spirit does not consist of decreeing the sovereignty of the people, but in developing formal modalities of political life allowing the people not to be divested of it. The ‘laïque’ spirit rejects all (...) distinctions concerning the nature and rights of citizens; it also equally rejects religious laws being imposed over political law. (shrink)
In this article, inspired by Whiteness Studies, I propose two concepts that allow us to see the question of ethnicity as well as the history of the Turkish Republic through the lens of privilege: Turkishness and the Turkishness Contract. By Turkishness, I mean a patterned but mostly unrecognized relationship between Turkish individuals’ ethnic position and their ways of seeing, hearing, feeling and knowing – as well as not seeing, not hearing, not feeling and not knowing. These ways and states of (...) Turkishness have been shaped by a set of written/unwritten and spoken/unspoken agreements among the Muslims of Anatolia. However, during the last 40 years, the Kurdish movement, by creating a military and civilian resistance with mass support, has challenged the fundamentals of the contract and therefore caused a dramatic crisis of identity and selfhood for Turkishness. (shrink)
This article aims at exploring one specific facet of pluralism: How can we conceive of a variety of democratic cultures that are not just local adaptations of one basic western-centric understanding of the democratic ethos? Drawing on Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Confucian sources, a convergence among diverse democratic cultures is cursorily highlighted on such elements as the priority of the common good, the acceptance of pluralism, the desirability of collegial deliberation, the equality of citizens, and the value of individuality. (...) Then two important points of dissonance are analysed in greater detail – the idea of the priority of rights over duties and the role of political conflict within a democratic polity – and shown not to be correlative with a divide between western and non-western contexts. Finally a typology of 4 kinds of democratic cultures is outlined. (shrink)