Hegel’s Theory of Justice

A chapter from Axel Honneth’s forthcoming book The Pathologies of Individual Freedom is available here.

Hegel’s Philosophy of Right—which once divided the most talented minds of a whole generation and which made the distinction between Hegelians on the Right and Hegelians on the Left possible until the middle of the previous century—has obviously lost its polarizing force. In contrast to Kant’s theory of right or John Stuart Mills’s treatise on liberty, which have recently returned into the limelight, Hegel’s book plays the unfortunate part of a classic that is widely read but no longer heard.

Tough Shit Justice, or Changing the World

Marx’s famous pronunciation, 11th thesis on Feuerbach – Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretiert; es kommt aber darauf an, sie zu verändern[Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it] – makes me wonder (and always did) whether philosophers should be trying to change the world as philosophers or if they should abandon their futile efforts to explain the world (or leave it to scientists) and do something else (that else hopefully would be directed at changing the world). Continue reading

Justice w/ Michael Sandel

I saw this article in NYT and I found this slick website – philosophy never looked so cool, it seems (and so sponsored by a delicious juice). In fact, this looks to me like a dawn of new tele-philosophy – Would it be great to turn on your TV late at night and catch a philosophical sermon on substance and accidents? ?If only philosophers looked after themselves a bit and weren’t in their majority balding and slightly overweight losers…

Only two lectures are available at this point, but more are coming. Continue reading

Tzvetan Todorov on Bush and Torture

Tzvetan Todorov on “intellectual torturers”:

The newly published documents do not disclose the very facts of torture, which were already well known by whomever wanted to know them. But they do reveal a great deal of information about how the torture sessions unfolded and how the agents involved perceived them.

What is most striking is the discovery of niggling little rules, outlined in CIA manuals and co-opted by the government’s legal executives. One would have thought that torture was the result of blunders or unintentional excesses committed on the spur of the moment. On the contrary, these memos make clear that torture was a tactic formulated in minute detail. Continue reading

Justice and Metaphysics.

Nick comments on the last thread: 

If I have a commitment to a certain conception of justice, is this practically any different from someone who has an elaborate metaphysical system that tries to justify this same principle?

I think this is a somewhat different conversation, I hope, at least that’s how I would see it, yet it is related to our whole conversation about realism because, if anyone remembers, it started with a simple of question of the nature of normativity – to simplify it significantly, I think I was asking a question not unlike this one: If a realist is someone who thinks that is a knowable world out there and all our philosophical efforts should be directed at getting to know it better, then this attitude seems to lack a dimension of “ought” and is found primarily in the dimension of “is” which is to say, it does not seem to be concerned with the way the world should be but only with a way the world is. Many objections were raised, the discussion veered off into Kantian ethics and so on, but still I thought that the only way “ought” would enter a realist world view is through a kind of fiat: there are ideas of justice and peaceful coexistence, we don’t know where they are coming from, but we have them now so there. Continue reading

Ward Churchill In Court

With Mikhail temporarily (I sincerely hope) gone, not to add to the drama, but I have to say that you’ve been a real friend and mentor, sir, I hope things get better and you get back to your blogging duty, here’s a story I think we should be paying attention to: 

DENVER – Ward Churchill’s attorney told a jury Tuesday that the University of Colorado handed the former professor over to a “howling mob” when they fired him from his tenured position in 2007.

During opening statements in the courtroom of Denver’s Chief District Judge Larry J. Naves, David Lane told the jury that the school should have defended Churchill’s rights to speak freely about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks instead of publicly denouncing him. 

“They should have said, ‘That is what the First Amendment is about, so howling mob at the gate, we are not letting you in,'” Lane told the jury. 

“The mob is an angry group of people fueled by ignorance and directed by fear,” he continued. “And the mob sees a traitor as an enemy, as someone to be destroyed. The mob took over at the University of Colorado.” 

“They have destroyed him,” Lane said. 

Former professor Churchill sued CU after he was fired for academic misconduct in 2007. The dismissal followed a public and political uproar over an essay he wrote comparing the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center to Nazi Adolf Eichmann who engineered the destruction of the Jews. 

The rest of this story is here. You know what really bothers me about this? I don’t like Churchill’s position that much, but I think that this is still a free county and all that stuff about us being about to be killed by the terrorists during the last eight years really created some horrible changes in the public perception of the free speech, you know? Whatever this guy said or wrote, he has the right to do so, how hard is it to understand it?