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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Benhabib examines one set of cosmopolitan norms determining a German Constitutional Court Case which denied long-term resident aliens voting privileges in local and district-wide elections, illuminating the “paradox of democratic legitimacy.”.
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)
Until recently the term ‘cosmopolitanism’ was a forgotten concept in the intellectual history of the 18th and 19th centuries. The last two decades have seen a remarkable revival of interest in cosmopolitanism across a wide variety of fields. This article contends that legal developments since the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights and the rise of an ‘international human rights regime’ are at the forefront of a new cosmopolitanism. Yet there is a great deal of skepticism toward such claims on the (...) part of those who maintain that democracy and human rights are best furthered by the nation-state framework. Still others confuse legal cosmopolitanism with the spread of a uniform system of rights across different national jurisdictions.In several writings in the past, I developed the concept of ‘democratic iterations’ to argue against such skepticism as well as misunderstandings of legal cosmopolitanism. In this article, I show how democratic iterations unfold across transnational legal sites, which encompass various national jurisdictions and through which contentious dialogues on the application and interpretation of such fundamental rights as ‘freedom of religion’ in different jurisdictions can emerge. To document such processes I focus on the Leyla Sahin v. Turkey case which was adjudicated by the European Court of Human Rights in 2005. (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 aim of The Claims of Culture is to reconcile the many discontents of late modern culture with a continuing commitment to liberal democracy. It does so in face of the separation of the value-spheres of ethics and aesthetics, theology and law, brought about by nature and cognitive rationalism. This led Max Weber to warn that a consequent search for the old gods, allied to the longing for their transcendent power, would lead to a retreat from democracy in the form (...) of a charismatic politics of leadership. Following Max Weber, I emphasize the intrinsic fluidity and heterogeneity of cultural narratives. Responding to the comments of María Herrera Lima, James Bohman and Eduardo Mendieta, this article addresses the common theme of cosmopolitanism and global citizenship. (shrink)