This paper provides a critique and re-evaluation of the way that ethics is understood and promoted within mainstream Human Resource Management (HRM) discourse. We argue that the ethics located within this discourse focuses on bolstering the relevance of HRM as a key contributor to organizational strategy, enhancing an organization's sense of moral legitimacy and augmenting organizational control over employee behaviour and subjectivity. We question this discourse in that it subordinates the ethics of the employment relationship to managerial prerogative. In response, (...) we suggest a different model of the relationship between ethics and HRM—one that finds the possibility of ethics in the contestation and destabilization of HRM. Such ethics arises through resistance to moral normalization and the constraint of freedom and difference. The contribution of our paper is in theorising the possibilities of a relationship between ethics and HRM that does not place HRM at its centre, as chief intermediary of the ethics of the employment relationship, but rather sees HRM as being a powerful player in a set of what Mouffe calls 'agonistic' socio-ethical relations. (shrink)
This article considers how reconciliation might be understood as a democratic undertaking. It does so by examining the implications of the debate between theorists of deliberative and agonistic democracy for the practice of democracy in divided societies. I argue that, in taking consensus as a regulative idea, deliberative democracy tends to conflate moral and political community thereby representing conflict as already communal. In contrast, an agonistic theory of democracy provides a critical perspective from which to discern what is at stake (...) in the politics of reconciliation since it understands community as a contingent achievement of political action. As such, an agonistic account of democracy suggests the possibility of retrieving the concept of reconciliation from a statesanctioned project of nation-building for a democratic politics centred on the possibilities of self-determination and solidarity among citizens divided by a history of state violence. Key Words: agonism deliberation democracy reconciliation transitional justice. (shrink)
This paper assesses the claim that an agonistic model of democracy could foster greater accommodation of citizens' social, cultural and ethical differences than mainstream liberal theories. I address arguments in favor of agonistic conceptions of politics by a diverse group of democratic theorists, ranging from republican theorists - Hannah Arendt and Benjamin Barber - to postmodern democrats concerned with questions of identity and difference, such as William Connolly and Bonnie Honig. Neither Arendt's democratic agonism nor Barber's republican-inflected account of (...) strong democracy purports to include citizens' group-based cultural identities, and so cannot further the claim that agonistic politics is more inclusive of cultural and social differences. Postmodern agonistic democrats such as Connolly and Honig rely upon Arendt's account of the relationship between agonism and pluralism, and wrongly assume that her view of politics is compatible with formal respect and recognition for citizens' cultural group identities. While agonistic democracy helpfully directs us to attend to the importance of moral and political disagreement, I argue that the stronger claim that an agonistic model of democracy could more readily include culturally diverse citizens is simply unfounded. By contrast, recent liberal variants of agonistic democracy that conceive of legal and political institutions as tools for recognizing and mediating citizens' moral and cultural differences may suggest ways to deepen our democratic practices in plural societies. Key Words: agonism agonistic democracy Hannah Arendt citizenship cultural minorities pluralism republican theory. (shrink)
By assuming the permanence of conflict, agonistic theories of politics are apparently incompatible with cosmopolitanism. Nevertheless, this paper aims to reveal the potential for a theory of cosmopolitanism in Chantal Mouffe's agonistic theory. In the first section, I present Mouffe's own critique of cosmopolitanism, pointing to its inconsistencies. The second section examines four aspects of Mouffe's agonism and explores their cosmopolitan potential. First, I argue that Mouffe's account of pluralism reveals the interconnectedness of political practices at different levels. Second, (...) Mouffe's sense of the transformation from “enemy” into “adversary” through “conversion” can be extended to cosmopolitanism. Third, the “conflictual consensus” which Mouffe attributes to adversaries is adequate for a cosmopolitanism that lacks a global consensus, but nonetheless is based on a minimal commonality of all human beings. Fourth, contestation, as conflict in the “tamed” mode, has a cosmopolitan potential to contest an.. (shrink)
In the literature there are two well-established but opposite readings of Arendt: as an agonistic theorist and as a deliberative one. In between these two positions a smaller number of scholars have argued that in Arendt these two dimensions can to a large extent be reconciled. This paper follows this third path but tries to bring it one step further. In particular, it defends the idea that those scholars who have proposed this third reading of Arendt have fallen short of (...) revealing the degree to which deliberation and agonism are, for her, interwoven. Through an original reading of Arendt’s views on judgment, persuasion, distinction and Eichmann’s banality, the paper clarifies why, for her, agonism and deliberation are not only compatible but actually mutually dependent. In other words, it clarifies why she believes that there can be no deliberation without agonism and no agonism without deliberation. (shrink)
A purely kinematic theory of movement runs the risk of having no explanatory power because it neglects the internal generative structures of the central nervous system. Distributed interaction between the agonist and antagonist systems would better simulate physiological mechanisms of oscillation, lateral inhibition, and synchronization, all of which have important roles in motor control.
In this essay I argue that the work of the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga is an important resource for contemporary democratic theory because his employment of the concept of play illustrates both the strengths and weaknesses of agonistic thought. I employ a reading of Huizinga to explore three central problems of contemporary agonism: the distinction between antagonism and agonism; the representative or expressive character of the agon; and the shaping and limiting of the space of the agon by (...) the materials with which we play democratic games. Reading Huizinga reveals the importance of a consideration of the social relations and material conditions that shape the playful features of democratic contestation. But it also warns against the idealization of democratic contestation and the contesting subject that occurs in contemporary agonistic thought as a result of privileging the autonomy and priority of play and extruding it from the wider economy of agonism. (shrink)
Traditions of thought remain vital and vivid if their borders are porous; they remain able to convey useful insights to understand our present, its roots in the past and its hints at new future perspectives if contaminations with other traditions are taken as a fruitful challenge and as a possibility of enrichment, not of jeopardy. Traditions of thought might be able to attract new followers if their models, criteria and methods are capable of transformation and amelioration. This view of traditions (...) is certainly inspired by John Dewey’s own understanding of philosophical and scientific processes of knowledge.1 His own thought can be indeed described as “open, unfixed, unreified”, entailing... (shrink)
By examining his account of individual virtues, making inferences from his analyses of flawed cities, and teasing out the tacit assumptions behind claims about the nature of political activity, I argue that Aristotle thinks of competition as being a political ideal rather than as an inevitable corruption of civic life. Virtuous citizens compete for civic honor through traditional "competitive outlays" and contend against one another for prestigious offices in the city. Moreover, I argue that the very structure of political deliberation (...) is competitive. It is through a "vis-à-vis" competition among proposals that a winning policy is adopted, and the speakers who offer these proposals are themselves involved in a competition for political influence. (shrink)
Since the rise of analytic philosophy, a virtual Berlin wall seems to be inserted with respect to continental philosophy. If we take into account the difference between both traditions concerning the respective subject-matters, the pivotal goals, the modes of inquiry and scholarship, the semantic idioms, the methodological approaches, the ongoing discussions, the conferences and publications etc., it is hardly an overstatement to say that both traditions evolve insulated and have a conflicting relation. From a meta-philosophical stance, the common and prima (...) facie reply to this split is the encouragement of merging inclinations. I argue for another strategy. Based on a discussion of the intrinsic differences and their importance, I’m inclined to conclude that unification coincides with a loss of authenticity, blurring the critical potential of both traditions. Hence, we are better of endorsing agonistic pluralism between analytic philosophy and contemporary continental philosophy. The plurality of points of view render several opportunities for productive critiques and fruitful cross-overs between both traditions. Alas, the susceptibility for these innovations is vastly counteracted due to a widespread attitude of antipathy, ignorance and occasional vulgarisation. (shrink)
Communication is inherent to social relationships. Previous papers addressed the correlation between social and communicative complexity, and the origin of sociality in rodents. In subterranean social species, as the number of animals in the same burrow increases, so do interindividual contact rates. This is because of limitations in actually used tunnel length and diameter, leading to an increasing number of agonistic situations probably resulting in time loss, threatening, and fighting with danger of injuries. To avoid this, social species are expected (...) to have an increase in the number of particular vocalizations. Comparison of the adult vocal repertoire of 12 species through regression and phylogenetically independent contrasts suggests three main conclusions: social species increase their repertoire both in number and categories of vocal signals in relation to solitary species, although the coefficient was smaller in the PIC model; the number of agonistic vocalizations was also different between solitary and social species, with the latter displaying higher numbers of these calls; the percentage of agonistic vocalizations in relation to total repertoire was similar between social and solitary species, with no significant relationship between this parameter and the social structure. These results imply that agonistic vocalizations have also increased in number in social species, indicating the importance of these calls in the establishment of new relationships. As repertoire changes are essential to cope with new and frequent kinds of interactions sociality originates, these results suggest that at least for these organisms, communicative changes, especially at the level of agonistic signals, could be a necessary condition to fulfill in the path to the possibility of group living. (shrink)
Can feminist fitness exist? Before we can begin to answer that question, we must first examine what is at stake in asking it and why it’s a question in the first place. Ultimately, what we wonder when we question the coexistence of feminism and fitness is whether individuals can read themselves into narratives of feminism while simultaneously reading themselves into narratives of fitness. Of course, this task is made much more difficult by the fact that narratives of feminism and fitness (...) are not monolithic. Both ideological frameworks manifest themselves in variegated ways that can be mapped through lived experiences, shifting historical meanings, media representation, and scholarly inquiry. It is hard enough to... (shrink)
Agonism is a political theory that places contestation at the heart of politics. Agonistic theorists charge liberal theory with a depoliticization of pluralism through an excessive focus on consensus. This paper examines the agonistic critiques of liberalism from a normative perspective. I argue that by itself the argument from pluralism is not sufficient to support an agonistic account of politics, but points to further normative commitments. Analyzing the work of Mouffe, Honig, Connolly, and Owen, I identify two normative currents (...) of agonistic theory: emancipatory agonism, aimed at challenging violence and exclusion, and perfectionist agonism, aimed at the cultivation of nobility. From a normative perspective the former presents an internal challenge to liberalism, while the latter constitutes an external challenge to liberalism by providing a competing account of the ends of politics. Recognition of the distinction between emancipatory and perfectionist agonism is crucial in assessing the purchase of agonistic critiques of liberalism. Furthermore, this analysis draws us beyond the simple opposition between contestation and consensus. It is not simply a question of valuing genuine pluralism and therefore criticizing consensus; rather the question comes to be: what are the ends of politics? (shrink)
Agonist theorists have argued against deliberative democrats that democratic institutions should not seek to establish a rational consensus, but rather allow political disagreements to be expressed in an adversarial form. But democratic agonism is not antagonism: some restriction of the plurality of admissible expressions is not incompatible with a legitimate public sphere. However, is it generally possible to grant this distinction between antagonism and agonism without accepting normative standards in public discourse that saliently resemble those advocated by (some) (...) deliberative democrats? In this paper we provide an analysis of one important aspect of political communication, the use of slippery slope arguments, and show that the fact of pluralism weakens the agonists’ case for contestation as a sufficient ingredient for appropriately democratic public discourse. We illustrate that contention by identifying two specific kinds of what we call pluralism slippery slopes, i.e. mechanisms whereby pluralism reinforces the efficacy of slippery slope arguments. (shrink)
As a flashpoint for specific instances of conflict, Muslim sartorial practices have at times been seen as being antagonistic to “western” ideas of gender equality, secularity, and communicative practices. In light of this, I seek to highlight the ways in which such moments of antagonism actually might be understood on “cosmopolitical” terms, that is, through a framework informed by a critical and political approach to cosmopolitanism itself. Thus, through an “agonistic cosmopolitics” I here argue for a more robust political understanding (...) of what a cosmopolitan orientation to cultural difference can offer education. The paper moves from a focus on harmony to agonism and from cosmopolitanism to the cosmopolitical, and within each I discuss the questions of democracy and universality, respectively. Drawing on, the work of Chantal Mouffe, Judith Butler and Bonnie Honig, I discuss the basis upon which our agonistic interactions can inform education in promoting better ways of living together. This requires, in my view, nothing less than a clear understanding of the very difficulties of pluralism and a questioning of some of the ways we often reflect on the political dimension of these difficulties. I offer some reflections on what an agonistic cosmopolitics has to offer the debates surrounding the wearing of various forms of Muslim dress in schools in the conclusion. My overall claim is that cosmopolitanism as a set of ideas that seek more peaceful forms of living together on a global scale is in need of a theoretical framework that faces directly the difficulties of living in a dissonant world. (shrink)
The contemporary agonist thinker, Chantal Mouffe argues that conflicts are constitutive of politics. However, this position raises the question that concerns the survival of order and the proper types of conflicts in democracies. Although Mouffe is not consensus-oriented, consensus plays a role in her theory when the democratic order is at stake. This suggests that there is a theoretical terrain between the opposing poles of conflict and consensus. This can be discussed with the help of concepts and theories that seem (...) to be standing between the two, namely compromise, debate and the borders of democracy. I will argue that we can reveal this position with the theoretical analysis of compromise in the works of F. R. Ankersmit on the historical origin of representative democracy, and Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson on the role of compromise in divided communities. J. S. Mill’s view of colliding opinions offers a moderate agonistic understanding of politics, while the concept of debate plays a similar role for Márton Szabó, a contemporary Hungarian political theorist. Finally, Mouffe’s position stands at the conflictual end of this spectrum, although conflicts are delimited on the normative ground of democracy. (shrink)
The text considers points of view of theoreticians of the radical pluralism : Connolly , Mouffe and Tully with regard to the status and the nature of concepts in the political discourse, as well as the consequences of these conceptual presumptions to understanding democracy. The three authors emphasize the essential contestability of political concepts, the paradox of liberal democracy and the need to revise standard rational consensus theories of democracy. Also, the three authors take over the specific interpretation of Vittgenstein (...) to the direction of political theory the centre of which consists of everyday contingent practices of politics as well as dissent about their assessment. The text analyzes the extent to which this reading is compatible to Wittgenstein's position. The author defends the opinion that the essential contestability does not imply agonism and denial of the significance of rules and tries to indicate to the points of illegitimate transition from antiessentialism to unconsensus rules. Also, the text underlines the flaws of dissent conception of democracy and social integration. (shrink)
This piece is written as a public service to ethics professors and students interested in learning more about honor ethics. To facilitate its use in classrooms, it’s written in the style of many contemporary textbooks: it focuses on ideas, principles, and intuitions and ignores scholarly figures and intellectual history. Readers should note this is an “opinionated” introduction, as it focuses on the agonistic conception of honor. It also takes for granted that the agonistic ethos described counts as a “moral” theory. (...) Arguments for these assumptions are in print elsewhere. Any comments or recommendations for improvement are much appreciated. (shrink)
Recent debates in political theory display a renewed interest in the problem of judgment. This article critically examines the different senses of judgment that are at play in Jürgen Habermas’ theory of law. The article offers a new critical reading of Habermas’ account of the legitimacy of law, and a revisionary interpretation of the reconstructive approach to political theory that underpins it. Both of these are instrumental to an understanding of what is involved in judging the legitimacy of law that (...) is richer than has been recognized thus far by both critics and defenders of Habermas. (shrink)
It is Chantal Mouffe’s contention that the central weakness of consensus-driven forms of liberalism, such as John Rawls’ political liberalism and Jurgen Habermas’ deliberative democracy, is that they refuse to acknowledge conflict and pluralism, especially at the level of the ontological. Their defence for doing so is that conflict and pluralism are the result of attempts to incorporate unreasonable and irrational claims into the public political sphere. In this context, unreasonable and irrational claims are those that cannot be translated into (...) universalizable terms. However, for Mouffe, it is this intentional exclusionary act itself that is detrimental to a well- functioning democratic polity. It is only through the inclusion of a diverse body of subject positions that a democratic polity can be said to be truly representative of the polity, and therefore constitute a functioning and inclusive democracy. -/- This paper will examine Mouffe’s account of agonistic pluralism. In doing so, it will demonstrate that instead of being a source of instability within the democratic discourse and therefore relegated into the private non-political sphere, passions and values that are constitutive of these subject positions ought to be incorporated into the public political sphere. Mouffe’s rationale for doing so is that it is precisely through their incorporation that citizens will retain their allegiance to the democratic polity. However, as part of this examination, this paper will also draw attention to an under-developed aspect of Mouffe’s account of agonistic democracy, specifically problems regarding both participation and exclusion. Whilst Mouffe does provide a robust counterpoint to both Rawls’ political liberalism and Habermas’ deliberative democracy, it is my contention that she fails to explain adequately what it is that persuades participants to act democratically and adhere to the requirements of agonal respect, nor what should happen when the ethico- political principles of liberty and equality are not accepted. (shrink)
Amidst the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and the reshaping of political systems in the region, the Iranian people remain mired in difficulties on their path to democratization. Much of this can be blamed on the gradual decline in activity within Iranian civil society and the stagnation of political imagination. If Iran is to have a future built on the solid foundation of a viable and legitimate political authority, Iranian civic actors must reimagine and revisit the notion of constitution-making (...) through sustained dissent and deliberation. Hannah Arendt's ideas are extremely helpful in this regard. The main purpose of this essay will be to explore how some of her most useful concepts may be applicable in the Iranian context. Briefly tracing the history of Iran since the Islamic Revolution, the paper then turns to a deeper examination of Arendt’s ideas to determine how they can foster resistance, civic engagement and eventual legitimate authority. The focus in the end will be on what Iranians can do to begin anew, to build foundations for the future, and to tell themselves a new story about their identity. (shrink)
In this review, I propose that the core contribution of Skeaff's book is to supplement existing discourses of non-domination and agonistic politics with the distinctly Spinozist concept of immanent normativity. However, I question whether this immanent normativity is so clearly and efficaciously democratic as Skeaff presumes.
The ways citizen participation and democracy are changing are poorly understood due to the dominance of theories inherited from the eighteenth century. Democratic citizenship can be better understood if critical reflection is re-oriented around the games of concrete freedom here and now as recommended by Hannah Arendt, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Michel Foucault and Quentin Skinner.This orientation brings to light two distinctive types of citizen freedom in the present: diverse forms of citizen participation and diverse practices of governance in which citizens participate.
Messud's The Woman Upstairs as a post-9/11 craft makes use of transnational characters to emphasize the hidden bigotry and hypocrisy in the current age. The dominance of feminine figures in The Woman Upstairs highlights the significance of 'Agonistic feminine identity' in the twenty-first century America that reflects how the interactions among women are socio-politically flavored. Messud’s feminine setting in The Woman Upstairs sketches out Nora as a woman who constructs her life in accordance with the socio-cultural norms her mother and (...) the society promote. Yet women’s friendship that bridges the sociocultural gap between women of the First World and women of the Third World reveals to be a fake friendship that covers the antagonisms. Thus, although multiraciality is constantly represented in Messud’s oeuvre, the tension against the ‘others’ who are to be neocolonially subjugated in the postcolonial America is symbolically represented through Messud's ‘Wonderland’. Decoding the sociocultural behavior of women in the twenty-first century America through Chantal Mouffe’s theory of agonistic pluralism, it can be concluded that a new form of feminine identity, that can be well labeled as 'agonistic feminine identity', is constructed in the twenty first century America due to traumatic events such as the 9/11. Hence, intolerance and revenge that is flooding between the two women of two different worlds is agonistically controlled through the construction of The Woman Upstairs. Messud's The Woman Upstairs as a post-9/11 craft makes use of transnational characters to emphasize the hidden bigotry and hypocrisy in the current age. The dominance of feminine figures in The Woman Upstairs highlights the significance of 'Agonistic feminine identity' in the twenty-first century America that reflects how the interactions among women are socio-politically flavored. Messud’s feminine setting in The Woman Upstairs sketches out Nora as a woman who constructs her life in accordance with the socio-cultural norms her mother and the society promote. Yet women’s friendship that bridges the sociocultural gap between women of the First World and women of the Third World reveals to be a fake friendship that covers the antagonisms. Thus, although multiraciality is constantly represented in Messud’s oeuvre, the tension against the ‘others’ who are to be neocolonially subjugated in the postcolonial America is symbolically represented through Messud's ‘Wonderland’. Decoding the sociocultural behavior of women in the twenty-first century America through Chantal Mouffe’s theory of agonistic pluralism, it can be concluded that a new form of feminine identity, that can be well labeled as 'agonistic feminine identity', is constructed in the twenty first century America due to traumatic events such as the 9/11. Hence, intolerance and revenge that is flooding between the two women of two different worlds is agonistically controlled through the construction of The Woman Upstairs. (shrink)