Iris Marion Young articulated a social connection model of responsibility to conceptualize political responsibility for structural injustice. Schiff argues that actually confronting our responsibility is problematic: the pervasiveness of structural injustice makes it difficult to acknowledge as a problem, while distances between sufferers and contributors complicate our acknowledgment of social connection. These problems are exacerbated by thoughtlessness, bad faith, and misrecognition. Narrative can facilitate the acknowledgment necessary for us to confront our political responsibility.
How can human beings acknowledge and experience the burdens of political responsibility? Why are we tempted to flee them, and how might we come to affirm them? Jade Larissa Schiff calls this experience of responsibility 'the cultivation of responsiveness'. In Burdens of Political Responsibility: Narrative and the Cultivation of Responsiveness, she identifies three dispositions that inhibit responsiveness - thoughtlessness, bad faith, and misrecognition - and turns to storytelling in its manifold forms as a practice that might facilitate and frustrate (...) it. Through critical engagements with an unusual cast of characters hailing from a variety of disciplines, she argues that how we represent our world and ourselves in the stories we share, and how we receive those stories, can facilitate and frustrate the cultivation of responsiveness. (shrink)
This article explores problems of thoughtlessness through a critical engagement with Hannah Arendt. Thoughtlessness was more complicated for Arendt than her interpreters have acknowledged. She described it as the failure of conscience; as ideology; and as an everyday condition that sustains ideology. While the first has been widely acknowledged, the latter two have been virtually ignored. Arendt identifies the cultivation of everyday thoughtfulness as a remedy for failures of conscience, but this provides no defence against ideological and everyday thoughtlessness, which (...) can actually reinforce failures of conscience. To address them Arendt turns to storytelling. But narratives can combat and reinforce thoughtlessness. To confront thoughtlessness we need to attend to narrative production and reception. Drawing on Paul Ricoeur I call for deeper engagement between political theorists, literary critics and philosophers of literature on the roles of narrative in promoting or undermining thinking in contemporary politics. (shrink)
Leo Strauss’ ubiquitous presence in recent US foreign policy debates demands a thorough analysis of his critique of liberalism. I identify and explain a previously unnoticed transformation in that critique. Strauss’ Weimar critique of liberalism was philosophical and political; like Carl Schmitt, he sought philosophical grounds to replace liberalism with an authoritarian political system. However, post-emigration Strauss abandoned this political agenda, exclusively pursuing a philosophical critique that exposed modern liberalism’s purported weaknesses in order to strengthen its core. I accentuate this (...) change by reading Strauss’ postwar lecture, ‘The Three Waves of Modernity’, as an implicit response to and reconstruction of Schmitt’s ‘Neutralizations and Depoliticizations’ essay. Strauss’ changing relationship to political theology and political philosophy was central to his transformation: while a philosophically grounded political theology undergirded his early disdain for liberalism, Strauss later abandoned political theology for a quasi-theological faith in political philosophy that motivated his more moderate, philosophical critique. (shrink)
This article utilises Luhmann's functional analysis to investigate the role played by legal argumentation within the legal system. Luhmann's sociological observations on this subject suggest an alternative to jurisprudential approaches that understand legal arguments and consequent decisions in terms of the relative strengths of the justifications offered in their support. His account examines the role played by legal argumentation in allowing the legal system to evolve in response to society's increasing complexity. The concepts he employs to analyse this evolutionary capacity (...) of law, developed from their origins in information theory, are redundancy and variety. Beginning with the work of Dworkin the article opens up Luhmann's analysis to consider how legal argumentation operates both as a grounded form of communication, capable of identifying weak or unsustainable interpretations of legal texts, and a mechanism for evolving law in the direction of increasing complexity. (shrink)
Time is central to Luhmann’s writings on social systems. Social systems, as systems of meaning, operate within three dimensions: factual, social and temporal. Each of these dimensions entails selections of actualities from potentialities (or contingencies) within horizons. Whilst the factual dimension involves selections based on distinguishing ‘this’ from ‘something else’, and the social distinguishes between alter and ego (asking with respect to any meaning whether another experiences it as I do), the temporal dimension operates with the primary distinction of before (...) and after. In the temporal dimension, everything is ‘ordered only according to the when and not to the who/what/where/how of experience and action’ (Luhmann in Social systems. Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1995, p. 78). In this paper, we explore the connection between the temporal dimension of meaning within the legal system and its connection to justice. We begin by setting out succinctly the role played by justice within the legal system, as presented by Luhmann, particularly in his book Law as a social system (2004). From this beginning, we move on to consider the relationship between law, justice and time, taking two examples. The first is the temporality of judicial decisions. The second concerns the relationship between the temporal meaning of law’s own operations, and the presumption of innocence. (shrink)
The end of the Cold War was heralded by many observers as the triumph of liberal democracy, a triumph captured by Francis Fukuyama's infamous declaration of “the end of history.”1 The supposed triumph of liberal democracy was both political and philosophical. Politically, liberal democracy had outlasted its only serious rival, Soviet Communism, which had unceremoniously disintegrated.2 Philosophically, the triumph of liberal democracy suggested to some that the West had hit upon a fundamental piece of knowledge about the best political order (...) for human beings. Whatever the value of Fukuyama's thesis at the time, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001,…. (shrink)
Northoff provides a compelling argument supporting a kind of “double dissociation” of Parkinson's disease and catatonia. We discuss a related form of akinetic mutism linked to mesodiencephalic injuries and suggest an alternative to the proposed “horizontal” versus “vertical” modulation distinction. Rather than a “directional” difference in patterned neuronal activity, we propose that both disorders reflect hypersynchrony within typically interdependent but segregated networks facilitated by a common thalamic gating mechanism.