Contemporary recognition theory has developed powerful tools for understanding a variety of social problems through the lens of misrecognition. It has, however, paid somewhat less attention to how to conceive of appropriate responses to misrecognition, usually making the tacit assumption that the proper societal response is adequate or proper affirmative recognition. In this paper I argue that, although affirmative recognition is one potential response to misrecognition, it is not the only such response. In particular, I would like to make the (...) case for derecognition in some cases: derecognition, in particular, through the systematic deinstitutionalization or uncoupling of various reinforcing components of social institutions, components whose tight combination in one social institution has led to the misrecognition in the first place. I make the case through the example of recent United States debates over marriage, especially but not only with respect to gay marriage. I argue that the proper response to the misrecognition of sexual minorities embodied in exclusively heterosexual marriage codes is not affirmative recognition of lesbian and gay marriages, but rather the systematic derecognition of legal marriage as currently understood. I also argue that the systematic misrecognition of women that occurs under the contemporary institution of marriage would likewise best be addressed through legal uncoupling of heterogeneous social components embodied in the contemporary social institution of marriage. (shrink)
What does social justice require in contemporary societies? What are the requirements of social democracy? Who and where are the individuals and groups that can carry forward agendas for progressive social transformation? What are we to make of the so-called new social movements of the last thirty years? Is identity politics compatible with egalitarianism? Can cultural misrecognition and economic maldistribution be fought simultaneously? What of the heritage of Western Marxism is alive and dead? And how is current critical social theory (...) to approach these and other questions? Much of the most productive work done in recent social theory has revolved around such issues, in particular, around those concerning the relationship between the politics of recognition and the politics of distribution. After the intense theoretical focus over the last fifteen years or so on the issues of recognition politics—multiculturalism, multi-nationalism, identity politics, group-differentiated rights, the accommodation of difference, and so on—some social theorists have worried that attention has been diverted from important issues of distributive equality—systematic impoverishment, increasing material inequality, ‘structural’ unemployment, the growth of oligarchic power, global economic segmentation, and so on. While some critics seem to have adopted a blunt ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ line of criticism,1 others have attempted to develop an overarching, integrative theoretical framework adequate to the diverse issues concerning both economic and cultural justice. For example, Axel Honneth proposes that a suitably developed and normatively robust theory of intersubjective recognition can adequately integrate an analysis of apparently diverse contemporary struggles: those for a just division of labor and hence, a fair distribution of resources and opportunities, as well as those for a culture free of identity-deforming disrespect and denigration. (shrink)
This paper argues that political civility is actually an illusionistic ideal and that, as such, realism counsels that we acknowledge both its promise and peril. Political civility is, I will argue, a tension-filled ideal. We have good normative reasons to strive for and encourage more civil political interactions, as they model our acknowledgement of others as equal citizens and facilitate high-quality democratic problem-solving. But we must simultaneously be attuned to civility’s limitations, its possible pernicious side-effects, and its potential for strategic (...) manipulation and oppressive abuse, particularly in contemporary, pluralistic and heterogeneous societies. (shrink)
In Between Facts and Norms (1992) Habermas set out a theory of law and politics that is linked both to our high normative expectations and to the realities consequent upon the practices and institutions meant to put them into effect. The article discusses Hugh Baxter’s Habermas: The Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy and the drawbacks he finds in Habermas’ theory. It focuses on raising questions about and objections to some of the author’s leading claims.
This paper argues that, according to a specific conception of the ideals of constitutional democracy - deliberative democratic constitutionalism - the proper function of constitutional review is to ensure that constitutional procedures are protected and followed in the ordinary democratic production of law, since the ultimate warrant for the legitimacy of democratic decisions can only be that they have been produced according to procedures that warrant the expectation of increased rationality and reasonability. It also contends that three desiderata for the (...) institutionalization of the function of constitutional review follow from this conception: structural independence, democratic sensitivity and the maintenance of legal integrity. Finally, evaluating three broadly different ways of institutionalizing constitutional review - solely in appellate courts, in deliberative constitutional juries of ordinary citizens and in a combined system of constitutional courts and civic constitutional amendment fora - it argues that the third arrangement would perform best at collectively fulfilling the sometimes antithetical desiderata. (shrink)
Many have claimed that legitimate constitutional democracy is either conceptually or practically impossible, given infinite regress paradoxes deriving from the requirement of simultaneously democratic and constitutional origins for legitimate government. This paper first critically investigates prominent conceptual and practical bootstrapping objections advanced by Barnett and Michelman. It then argues that the real conceptual root of such bootstrapping objections is not any specific substantive account of legitimacy makers, such as consent or democratic endorsement, but a particular conception of the logic of (...) normative standards—the determinate threshold conception—that the critic attributes to the putatively undermined account of legitimacy. The paper further claims that when we abandon threshold conceptions of the logic of legitimacy in favor of regulative-ideal conceptions, then the objections, from bootstrapping paradoxes to the very idea of constitutional democracy, disappear. It concludes with considerations in favor of adopting a more demanding conception of the regulative ideal of constitutional democracy, advanced by Habermas, focusing on potentials for developmental learning. (shrink)
Christopher F. Zurn - Perspectives on Habermas - Journal of the History of Philosophy 40:2 Journal of the History of Philosophy 40.2 274-275 Book Review Perspectives on Habermas Lewis Edwin Hahn, editor. Perspectives on Habermas. New York: Open Court, 2000. Pp. xiv + 586. Paper, $29.95. This collection of essays on the wide-ranging body of thought produced by Jürgen Habermas over the course of close to fifty years represents a significant lost opportunity. Although originally planned as a volume in the (...) Library of Living Philosophers series, in 1999 Habermas pulled out of the project because, as Hahn tells us, "of other events in his life" . Volumes in this series have typically provided unique and valuable resources: not only quality secondary essays by leading contemporary philosophers, but essay-by-essay responses by the featured philosopher, as well.. (shrink)
This volume collects original, cutting-edge essays on the philosophy of recognition by international scholars eminent in the field. By considering the topic of recognition as addressed by both classical and contemporary authors, the volume explores the connections between historical and contemporary recognition research and makes substantive contributions to the further development of contemporary theories of recognition.
In this book, Christopher F. Zurn shows why a normative theory of deliberative democratic constitutionalism yields the best understanding of the legitimacy of constitutional review. He further argues that this function should be institutionalized in a complex, multi-location structure including not only independent constitutional courts but also legislative and executive self-review that would enable interbranch constitutional dialogue and constitutional amendment through deliberative civic constitutional forums. Drawing on sustained critical analyses of diverse pluralist and deliberative democratic arguments concerning the legitimacy of (...) judicial review, Zurn concludes that constitutional review is necessary to ensure the procedural requirements for legitimate democratic self-rule through deliberative cooperation. Claiming that pure normative theory is not sufficient to settle issues of institutional design, Zurn draws on empirical and comparative research to propose reformed institutions of constitutional review that encourage the development of fundamental law as an ongoing project of democratic deliberation and decision. (shrink)