Situating the Self is a decisive intervention into debates concerning modernity, postmodernity, ehtics, and the self. It will be of interest to all concerned with critical theory or contemporary ethics.
How can liberal democracy best be realized in a world fraught with conflicting new forms of identity politics and intensifying conflicts over culture? This book brings unparalleled clarity to the contemporary debate over this question. Maintaining that cultures are themselves torn by conflicts about their own boundaries, Seyla Benhabib challenges the assumption shared by many theorists and activists that cultures are clearly defined wholes. She argues that much debate--including that of "strong" multiculturalism, which sees cultures as distinct pieces of a (...) mosaic--is dominated by this faulty belief, one with grave consequences for how we think injustices among groups should be redressed and human diversity achieved. Benhabib masterfully presents an alternative approach, developing an understanding of cultures as continually creating, re-creating, and renegotiating the imagined boundaries between "us" and "them." Drawing on contemporary cultural politics from Western Europe, Canada, and the United States, Benhabib develops a double-track model of deliberative democracy that permits maximum cultural contestation within the official public sphere as well as in and through social movements and the institutions of civil society. Agreeing with political liberals that constitutional and legal universalism should be preserved at the level of polity, she nonetheless contends that such a model is necessary to resolve multicultural conflicts. Analyzing in detail the transformation of citizenship practices in European Union countries, Benhabib concludes that flexible citizenship, certain kinds of legal pluralism and models of institutional powersharing are quite compatible with deliberative democracy, as long as they are in accord with egalitarian reciprocity, voluntary self-ascription, and freedom of exit and association. The Claims of Culture offers invaluable insight to all those, whether students or scholars, lawyers or policymakers, who strive to bridge the gap between the theory and practice of cultural politics in the twenty-first century. (shrink)
Focusing on contemporary debates in moral and political theory, Situating the Self argues that a non-relative ethics, binding on us in virtue of out humanity, is still a philosophically viable project. This intersting new book should be read by all those concerned with the problems of critical theory, the analysis of modernity, and contemporary ethics, as well as students and professionals in philosophy, sociology and political science.
The Rights of Others examines the boundaries of political community by focusing on political membership - the principles and practices for incorporating aliens and strangers, immigrants and newcomers, refugees and asylum seekers into existing polities. Boundaries define some as members, others as aliens. But when state sovereignty is becoming frayed, and national citizenship is unravelling, definitions of political membership become much less clear. Indeed few issues in world politics today are more important, or more troubling. In her Seeley Lectures, the (...) distinguished political theorist Seyla Benhabib makes a powerful plea, echoing Immanuel Kant, for moral universalism and cosmopolitan federalism. She advocates not open but porous boundaries, recognising both the admittance rights of refugees and asylum seekers, but also the regulatory rights of democracies. The Rights of Others is a major intervention in contemporary political theory, of interest to large numbers of students and specialists in politics, law, philosophy and international relations. (shrink)
Displaying an impressive command of complex materials, Seyla Benhabib reconstructs the history of theories from a systematic point of view and examines the origins and transformations of the concept of critique from the works of Hegel to Habermas. Through investigating the model of the philosophy of the subject, she pursues the question of how Hegel´s critiques might be useful for reforumulating the foundations of critical social theory.
In these two important lectures, distinguished political philosopher Seyla Benhabib argues that since the UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, we have entered a phase of global civil society which is governed by cosmopolitan norms of universal justice--norms which are difficult for some to accept as legitimate since they are sometimes in conflict with democratic ideals. In her first lecture, Benhabib argues that this tension can never be fully resolved, but it can be mitigated through the renegotiation of the (...) dual commitments to human rights and sovereign self-determination. Her second lecture develops this idea in detail, with special reference to recent developments in Europe (for example, the banning of Muslim head scarves in France). The EU has seen the replacement of the traditional unitary model of citizenship with a new model that disaggregates the components of traditional citizenship, making it possible to be a citizen of multiple entities at the same time. The volume also contains a substantive introduction by Robert Post, the volume editor, and contributions by Bonnie Honig (Northwestern University), Will Kymlicka (Queens University), and Jeremy Waldron (Columbia School of Law). (shrink)
An examination of the intertwined lives and writings of a group of prominent twentieth-century Jewish thinkers who experienced exile and migration Exile, Statelessness, and Migration explores the intertwined lives, careers, and writings of a group of prominent Jewish intellectuals during the mid-twentieth century—in particular, Theodor Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Isaiah Berlin, Albert Hirschman, and Judith Shklar, as well as Hans Kelsen, Emmanuel Levinas, Gershom Scholem, and Leo Strauss. Informed by their Jewish identity and experiences of being outsiders, these thinkers (...) produced one of the most brilliant and effervescent intellectual movements of modernity. Political philosopher Seyla Benhabib’s starting point is that these thinkers faced migration, statelessness, and exile because of their Jewish origins, even if they did not take positions on specifically Jewish issues personally. The sense of belonging and not belonging, of being “eternally half-other,” led them to confront essential questions: What does it mean for the individual to be an equal citizen and to wish to retain one’s ethnic, cultural, and religious differences, or perhaps even to rid oneself of these differences altogether in modernity? Benhabib isolates four themes in their works: dilemmas of belonging and difference; exile, political voice, and loyalty; legality and legitimacy; and pluralism and the problem of judgment. Surveying the work of influential intellectuals, Exile, Statelessness, and Migration recovers the valuable plurality of their Jewish voices and develops their universal insights in the face of the crises of this new century. (shrink)
This unique volume presents a debate between four of the top feminist theorists in the US today, discussing the key questions facing contemporary feminist theory, responding to each other, and distinguishing their views from others.
Fred Dallmayr is Packey Dee Professor of Government at the University of Notre Dame.Contributors: Robert Alexy. Karl-Otto Apel. Seyla Benhabib. Dietrich Bohler. Jurgen Habermas. Otfried Hoffe. KarlHeinz Ilting. Hermann Lubbe.
This essay is a critical review of two recent collections, Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance, edited by Irene Diamond and Lee Quinby and Feminism as Critique: On the Politics of Gender, edited by Seyla Benhabib and Drucilla Cornell. While the collections differ in their manner of addressing the critical sources that have inspired them-the former relying upon a single theorist, the latter attempting to move through some of the philosophical history that constitutes our present theoretical terrain-both attempt to think (...) through and thus revisualize some of the categories of difference which we have inherited. Though the best essays from these collections are celebrated for demonstrating how "feminism as critique" can work to move us toward a clearer and more inclusive feminist theory, questions are raised about what the inattention to race in these volumes suggests about our own role in the construction of power and knowledge, and the erasures that help to secure them both. (shrink)
The article presents information related to Hannah Arendt, who has become one of the most illuminating and certainly one of the most controversial political thinkers of the twentieth century. A tension and a dilemma are at the center of Hannah Arendt's political thought, indicating two formative forces of her spiritual-political identity. Arendt's thinking is decidedly modernist and politically universalist, when she reflects on the political realities of the twentieth century and on the fate of the Jewish people. Hannah Arendt did (...) not engage in methodological reflections and searched for the elements of totalitarianism. (shrink)
Carl Schmitt's critique of liberalism has gained increasing influence in the last few decades. This article focuses on Schmitt's analysis of international law in The Nomos of the Earth, in order to uncover the reasons for his appeal as a critic not only of liberalism but of American hegemonic aspirations as well. Schmitt saw the international legal order that developed after World War I, and particularly the "criminalization of aggressive war," as a smokescreen to hide U.S. aspirations to world dominance. (...) By focusing on Schmitt's critique of Kant's concept of the "unjust enemy," the article shows the limits of Schmitt's views and concludes that Schmitt, as well as left critics of U.S. hegemony, misconstrue the relation between international law and democratic sovereignty as a model of top-down domination. As conflictual as the relationship between international norms and democratic sovereignty can be at times, this needs to be interpreted as one of mediation and not domination. (shrink)
In my book, The Rights of Others, I developed a discourse-theoretic approach to questions of political membership in liberal democracies, which include practices of citizenship, as well as of immigration, refuge and asylum. This article revisits five issues in response to various criticisms. How can we justify democratic exclusions? Is there a `right to membership' and how can it be reconciled with the different practices of various constitutional democracies? Is there a distinction between normatively acceptable and normatively problematic restrictions on (...) political membership? Does the concept of `democratic iterations' describe normative or empirical processes? How plausible is the binarism of the national and the global? I argue that democratic exclusions can be justified by not discriminating against would-be citizens and immigrants on the basis of ascriptive criteria. Ascriptive characteristics, like one's sex and skin colour, are not the product of one's voluntary doings. Democratic iterations are empirical processes which can be judged in the light of normative criteria deriving from discourse theory. Furthermore, while the binarism of national and global is problematical, alternative configurations of political membership at the present are not more defensible. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction Seyla Benhabib; Part I. Freedom, Equality, and Responsibility: 2. Arendt on the foundations of equality Jeremy Waldron; 3. Arendt's Augustine Roy T. Tsao; 4. The rule of the people: Arendt, archê, and democracy Patchen Markell; 5. Genealogies of catastrophe: Arendt on the logic and legacy of imperialism Karuna Mantena; 6. On race and culture: Hannah Arendt and her contemporaries Richard H. King; Part II. Sovereignty, the Nation-State and the Rule of Law: 7. Banishing the (...) sovereign? Internal and external sovereignty in Arendt Andrew Arato and Jean Cohen; 8. The decline of order: Hannah Arendt and the paradoxes of the nation-state Christian Volk; 9. The Eichmann trial and the legacy of jurisdiction Leora Bilsky; 10. International law and human plurality in the shadow of totalitarianism: Hannah Arendt and Raphael Lemkin Seyla Benhabib; Part III. Politics in Dark Times: 11. In search of a miracle: Hannah Arendt and the atomic bomb Jonathan Schell; 12. Hannah Arendt between Europe and America: optimism in dark times Benjamin R. Barber; 13. Keeping the republic: reading Arendt's On Revolution after the fall of the Berlin Wall Dick Howard; Part IV. Judging Evil: 14. Are Arendt's reflections on evil still relevant? Richard Bernstein; 15. Banality reconsidered Susan Neiman; 16. The elusiveness of Arendtian judgment Bryan Garsten; 17. Existential values in Arendt's treatment of evil and morality George Kateb. (shrink)
The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol are the main legal documents governing the movement of refugee and asylum seekers across international borders. As the number of displaced persons seeking refuge has reached unprecedented numbers, states have resorted to measures to circumvent their obligations under the Convention. These range from bilateral agreements condemning refugees to their vessels at sea to the excision of certain territories from national jurisdiction. While socio-economic developments and the rise of the worldwide web have led (...) to deterritorialization of vast domains of the economy and the media which enable them to escape from state control, territorial presence, whether on terra firma or on vessels at sea which are functional surrogates for territorial sovereignty, continues to be the basis for the entitlement to human and citizens’ rights. We are facing a dual movement of deterritorialization and territorialization at once, both of which threaten the end of the 1951 Convention. This article is an exercise in non-ideal theory which, nonetheless, has implications for a seminal question in ideal democratic theory as to how to define and justify the boundaries of the demos. If the demos refers to the constitutional subject of a self-determining entity in whose name sovereignty is exercised, regimes of sovereignty, including those which govern the movement of peoples across borders, define the prerogatives as well as obligations of such sovereign entities under international law. The period ushered in by the 1951 Convention was such a sovereignty regime which today may be nearing its end. (shrink)
Despite the foment of the last two decades, philosophical ethics has fallen on hard times. While an increasing number of universalistic moral theories in the Kantian tradition limit themselves to questions of social and political justice, neo-Aristotelian theories of the good, like that of Bernard Williams, question the very possibility and desirability of a philosophical ethics. Viewed against this landscape, the program of discourse or communicative ethics, initiated by Karl Otto-Apel and then developed by Jürgen Habermas, is marked by its (...) optimism. Although sharing a great deal with the Rawlsian tradition, discourse ethicists insist that justice is not “the chief virtue of social institutions” alone, but the privileged domain of the moral as such. And although agreeing with neo-Aristotelians’ skepticism—later repeated by Hegel against Kant—about decontextualized ethical theory, discourse ethicists nonetheless believe that an abstract formulation of the moral point of view that would be context-sensitive is still possible. (shrink)
Increasingly in today’s world we are experiencing intensifying antagonisms around religious and ethno-cultural differences. The confrontation between political Islam and the so-called ‘West’ has replaced the rhetoric of the Cold War against communism. This new constellation has not only challenged the hypothesis that ‘secularization’ inevitably accompanied modernity but has also placed on the agenda political theology as a potent force in many societies. This article analyzes the contemporary revival of political theology by focusing on the headscarf debate in comparative constitutional (...) perspective. It compares the well-known decision of the French Parliament banning the wearing of the headscarf in public schools with the decision of the German Constitutional Court concerning whether Fereshta Ludin, an Afghani-German teacher wearing the hijab, could teach in German schools and with the more recent judgment of the Turkish Constitutional Court upholding the ban on the wearing of the scarf or the turban in institutions of higher learning. At stake in these debates is not only the meaning of fundamental human rights but also why women and their bodies become the object of disciplinary conflicts in culture, law and religion. (shrink)
The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity is a tour de force that has the immediacy and accessibility of the lecture form and the excitement of an encounter across, national cultural boundaries. Habermas takes up the challenge posed by the radical critique of reason in contemporary French poststructuralism.Tracing the odyssey of the philosophical discourse of modernity, Habermas's strategy is to return to those historical "crossroads" at which Hegel and the Young Hegelians, Nietzsche and Heidegger made the fateful decisions that led to this (...) outcome. His aim is to identify and clearly mark out a road indicated but not taken: the determinate negation of subject-centered reason through the concept of communicative rationality. As The Theory of Communicative Action served to place this concept within the history of social theory, these lectures locate it within the history of philosophy. Habermas examines the odyssey of the philosophical discourse of modernity from Hegel through the present and tests his own ideas about the appropriate form of a postmodern discourse through dialogs with a broad range of past and present critics and theorists.The lectures on Georges Bataille, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Cornelius Castoriadis are of particular note since they are the first fruits of the recent cross-fertilization between French and German thought. Habermas's dialogue with Foucault - begun in person as the first of these lectures were delivered in Paris in 1983 culminates here in two appreciative yet intensely argumentative lectures. His discussion of the literary-theoretical reception of Derrida in America - launched at Cornell in 1984 - issues here in a long excursus on the genre distinction between philosophy and literature. The lectures were reworked for the final time in seminars at Boston College and first published in Germany in the fall of 1985.Jürgen Habermas is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Frankfurt. The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity is included in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy. (shrink)