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Thomas M. Besch
Wuhan University
  1.  34
    On Robust Discursive Equality.Thomas M. Besch - forthcoming - Dialogue:1-26.
    This paper explores the idea of robust discursive equality on which respect-based conceptions of justificatory reciprocity often draw. I distinguish between formal and substantive discursive equality and argue that if justificatory reciprocity requires that people be accorded formally equal discursive standing, robust discursive equality should not be construed as requiring standing that is equal substantively, or in terms of its discursive purchase. Still, robust discursive equality is purchase sensitive: it does not obtain when discursive standing is impermissibly unequal in purchase. (...)
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  2. On Discursive Respect.Thomas M. Besch - 2014 - Social Theory and Practice 40 (2):207-231.
    Moral and political forms of constructivism accord to people strong, “constitutive” forms of discursive standing and so build on, or express, a commitment to discursive respect. The paper explores dimensions of discursive respect, i.e., depth, scope, and purchase; it addresses tenuous interdependencies between them; on this basis, it identifies limitations of the idea of discursive respect and of constructivism. The task of locating discursive respect in the normative space defined by its three dimensions is partly, and importantly, an ethical task (...)
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  3. Reflections on the Foundations of Human Rights.Thomas M. Besch - manuscript
    Is there an approach to human rights that justifies rights-allocating moral-political principles as principles that are equally acceptable by everyone to whom they apply, while grounding them in categorical, reasonably non-rejectable foundations? The paper examines Rainer Forst’s constructivist attempt to provide such an approach. I argue that his view, far from providing an alternative to “ethical” approaches, depends for its own reasonableness on a reasonably contestable conception of the good, namely, the good of constitutive discursive standing. This suggests a way (...)
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  4. Public Justification, Inclusion, and Discursive Equality.Thomas M. Besch - 2018 - Dialogue 57 (3):591-614.
    The paper challenges the view that public justification sits well with emancipatory and egalitarian intuitions. I distinguish between the depth, scope and the purchase of the discursive standing that such justification allocates, and situate within this matrix Rawls’s view of public justification. A standard objection to this view is that public justification should be more inclusive in scope. This is both plausible and problematic in emancipatory and egalitarian terms. If inclusive public justification allocates discursive standing that is rich in purchase, (...)
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  5. On the Right to Justification and Discursive Respect.Thomas M. Besch - 2015 - Dialogue 54 (4):703-726.
    Rainer Forst’s constructivism argues that a right to justification provides a reasonably non-rejectable foundation of justice. With an exemplary focus on his attempt to ground human rights, I argue that this right cannot provide such a foundation. To accord to others such a right is to include them in the scope of discursive respect. But it is reasonably contested whether we should accord to others equal discursive respect. It follows that Forst’s constructivism cannot ground human rights, or justice, categorically. At (...)
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  6. Schmidtz on Moral Recognition Rules: A Critique.Thomas M. Besch - 2017 - Theoria 83 (2):138-153.
    David Schmidtz's reconstruction of morality advances Hart-type recognition rules for a “personal” and an “interpersonal” strand of morality. I argue that his view does not succeed for reasons owed both to the way in which Schmidtz construes of the task of reconstructing morality and the content of the moral recognition rules that he proposes. For Schmidtz, this task must be approached from a Hart-type “internal” perspective, but this leaves his reconstruction with an unresolved problem of parochiality. He reconstructs morality as (...)
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  7. On Political Legitimacy, Reasonableness, and Perfectionism.Thomas M. Besch - 2013 - Public Reason 5 (1):58-74.
    The paper advances a non-orthodox reading of political liberalism’s view of political legitimacy, the view of public political justification that comes with it, and the idea of the reasonable at the heart of these views. Political liberalism entails that full discursive standing should be accorded only to people who are reasonable in a substantive sense. As the paper argues, this renders political liberalism dogmatic and exclusivist at the level of arguments for or against normative theories of justice. Against that background, (...)
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  8. Factualism, Normativism and the Bounds of Normativity.Thomas M. Besch - 2011 - Dialogue 50 (2):347-365.
    The paper argues that applications of the principle that “ought” implies “can” (OIC) depend on normative considerations even if the link between “ought” and “can” is logical in nature. Thus, we should reject a common, “factualist” conception of OIC and endorse weak “normativism”. Even if we use OIC as the rule ““cannot” therefore “not ought””, applying OIC is not a mere matter of facts and logic, as factualists claim, but often draws on “proto-ideals” of moral agency.
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  9. Political Liberalism and Public Justification: The Deep View.Thomas M. Besch - manuscript
    The paper suggests the deep view of Rawls-type public justification as promising, non-ideal theory variant of an internal conception of political liberalism. To this end, I demonstrate how the deep view integrates a range of ideas, views and commitments at the core of political liberalism’s justification structure, including pro tanto justification, full justification, political values and their priority, justificatory neutrality, the role of reasonable comprehensive views, the nature public reasons, the wide view of public political culture, the role of overlapping (...)
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  10. On a Reflexive Case for Human Rights.Thomas M. Besch - 2013 - Journal of East-West Thought 3 (4):51-64.
    Can there be a "reflexive" or presuppositional, reasonably non-rejectable grounding of a Forst-type right to justification, or of a meaningful form of constitutive discursive standing? The paper argues that this is not so, and this for reasons that reflect more general limitations of presuppositional arguments for relevantly contested conclusions. To this end, the paper critically engages Forst's "reflexive" argument for human rights. It also considers O'Neill's presuppositional attempt to defend a form of cosmopolitanism, as well as the attempt to anchor (...)
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  11. Political Liberalism, the Internal Conception, and the Problem of Public Dogma.Thomas M. Besch - 2012 - Philosophy and Public Issues - Filosofia E Questioni Pubbliche 2 (1):153-177.
    According to the “internal” conception (Quong), political liberalism aims to be publicly justifiable only to people who are reasonable in a special sense specified and advocated by political liberalism itself. One advantage of the internal conception allegedly is that it enables liberalism to avoid perfectionism. The paper takes issue with this view. It argues that once the internal conception is duly pitched at its fundamental, metatheoretical level and placed in its proper discursive context, it emerges that it comes at the (...)
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  12.  28
    A Note on Reciprocity of Reasons.Thomas M. Besch - manuscript
    Rainer Forst and others claim that normative moral and political claims depend for their justification on meeting a requirement of reciprocal and general acceptability (RGA). I focus on a core component of RGA, namely, the idea of reciprocity of reasons, distinguish between two readings of RGA, and argue that if reciprocity of reasons is understood in Forst’s terms, then RGA, even on the most promising reading, may not serve as a requirement of moral or political justification at all. The discussion (...)
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  13. Diversity and the Limits of Liberal Toleration.Thomas M. Besch - 2010 - In Duncan Ivison (ed.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Multiculturalism. Ashgate.
    To fully respond to the demands of multiculturalism, a view of toleration would need to duly respect diversity both at the level of the application of principles of toleration and at the level of the justificatory foundations that a view of toleration may appeal to. The paper examines Rainer Forst’s post-Rawlsian, ‘reason-based’ attempt to provide a view of toleration that succeeds at these two levels and so allows us to tolerate tolerantly. His account turns on the view that a constructivist (...)
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  14.  32
    On Justification, Idealization, and Discursive Purchase.Thomas M. Besch - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-23.
    Conceptions of acceptability-based moral or political justification take it that authoritative acceptability, widely conceived, constitutes, or contributes to, validity, or justification. There is no agreement as to what bar for authoritativeness such justification may employ. The paper engages the issue in relation to (i) the level of idealization that a bar for authoritativeness, ψ, imparts to a standard of acceptability-based justification, S, and (ii) the degree of discursive purchase of the discursive standing that S accords to people when it builds (...)
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  15.  80
    On Toleration in Social Work.Thomas M. Besch & Jung-Sook Lee - forthcoming - European Journal of Social Work.
    Toleration is one of many responses toward diversity and difference. With the growing diversity, the theme of toleration has often taken center stage in discussions of multiculturalism and social pluralism. Nonetheless, it has not received much attention in the social work profession. Social workers often encounter situations in which they face a choice between tolerating and not tolerating. We argue that toleration is a legitimate and relevant topic in social work discourse. To make this point, first, this paper discusses different (...)
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  16. Constructing Practical Reason: O'Neill on the Grounds of Kantian Constructivism.Thomas M. Besch - 2008 - Journal of Value Inquiry 42 (1):55-76.
    The paper addresses O'Neill's view that her version of Kant's Categorical Imperative, namely, the requirement of followability (RF), marks the supreme principle of reason; it takes issue with her claim that RF commits us to Kantian constructivism in practical philosophy. The paper distinguishes between two readings of RF: on a weak reading, RF ranges over all (practical) reasoning but does not commit to constructivism, and on a strong version RF commits to constructivism but fails to meet its own test, and (...)
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  17. Kantian Constructivism, the Issue of Scope, and Perfectionism: O'Neill on Ethical Standing.Thomas M. Besch - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (1):1-20.
    Kantian constructivists accord a constitutive, justificatory role to the issue of scope: they typically claim that first-order practical thought depends for its authority on being suitably acceptable within the right scope, or by all relevant others, and some Kantian constructivists, notably Onora O'Neill, hold that our views of the nature and criteria of practical reasoning also depend for their authority on being suitably acceptable within the right scope. The paper considers whether O'Neill-type Kantian constructivism can coherently accord this key role (...)
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  18. On Practical Constructivism and Reasonableness.Thomas M. Besch - 2004 - Dissertation, University of Oxford
    The dissertation defends that the often-assumed link between constructivism and universalism builds on non-constructivist, perfectionist grounds. To this end, I argue that an exemplary form of universalist constructivism – i.e., O’Neill’s Kantian constructivism – can defend its universalist commitments against an influential particularist form of constructivism – i.e., political liberalism as advanced by Rawls, Macedo, and Larmore – only if it invokes a perfectionist view of the good. (En route, I show why political liberalism is a form of particularism and (...)
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  19.  8
    Schmidtz on Moral Recognition Rules: A Critique.Thomas M. Besch - 2016 - Theoria 82 (4).
    David Schmidtz's reconstruction of morality advances Hart-type recognition rules for a “personal” and an “interpersonal” strand of morality. I argue that his view does not succeed for reasons owed both to the way in which Schmidtz construes of the task of reconstructing morality and the content of the moral recognition rules that he proposes. For Schmidtz, this task must be approached from a Hart-type “internal” perspective, but this leaves his reconstruction with an unresolved problem of parochiality. He reconstructs morality as (...)
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  20. Über John Rawls' Politischen Liberalismus.Thomas M. Besch - 1998 - Peter Lang.
    (In German.) The book addresses Rawls's post-1985 political liberalism. His justification of political liberalism -- as reflected in his arguments from overlapping consensus -- faces the problem that liberal content can be justified as reciprocally acceptable only if the addressees of such a justification already endorse points of view that suitably support liberal ideas. Rawls responds to this legitimacy-theoretical problem by restricting public justification's scope to include reasonable people only, while implicitly defining reasonableness as a substantive liberal virtue. But this (...)
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  21. Über John Rawls' Politischen Liberalismus Zur Rolle des Vernünftigen in Rawls' Begründung Einer Politischen Gerechtigkeitstheorie.Thomas M. Besch - 1998
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