The past twenty years have witnessed the consolidation of deliberation as the normative basis of democratic theory. Although different versions of deliberative democracy vary in scope and degree of institutionalization, they share the assumption that the rational consensus engendered through discussion should serve as the normative guide for democratic politics. Although this tradition has roots in the birth of bourgeois liberal thought, it has received renewed attention due to Habermas’s reformulation on the basis of discourse ethics. In his middle period, (...) Habermas had attempted to ground rationality in the structure of discourse itself, in the ideal preconditions of intersubjective communication.1 His more pragmatist heirs, however, jettison transcendental truth claims while maintaining that deliberation can enhance the legitimacy of consensual solutions to the moral dilemmas which divide citizens. (shrink)
This essay investigates a strand of left-republicanism that emerged in France in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The solidarists developed a distinctive theory of social property and a thorough critique of the liberal, republican, and socialist alternatives. Solidarism rests on the claim that the modern division of labor creates a social product that does not naturally belong to the individuals who control it as their private property; property, therefore, should be conceived as “common wealth,” divided into individual and (...) public shares. When the wealthy appropriate a disproportionate share, they have a quasi-contractual debt to society that they are obliged to repay. The concepts of social debt, common-wealth, reparations, and rent played an important role in legitimizing egalitarian policies, but they have been largely forgotten today. This article resuscitates the theoretical arguments introduced by the solidarists and explains their relevance for contemporary debates about alternative economic arrangements. (shrink)
This paper examines the rhetorical dimension of arguments about global justice. It draws on postcolonial theory, an approach that has explored the relationship between knowledge and power. The global justice literature has elaborated critiques of global inequality and advanced arguments about how to overcome the legacies of domination. These concerns are also shared by critics of colonialism, yet there are also epistemological differences that separate the two scholarly communities. Despite these differences, I argue that bringing the two literatures into conversation (...) generates important benefits. Postcolonial theory draws attention to the way that abstract concepts can function as metaphors that have the unintended consequence of reinforcing power relations. Normative theory will be more effective at promoting global justice if it pays more attention to the politics of representation. (shrink)
For over forty years, economic inequality and distributive justice have been two of the primary concerns of political philosophers. This volume addresses these issues in a novel way, by focusing on the concepts of solidarity and public goods as both descriptive and normative frameworks. Solidarity links the social, political and moral together, in a distinctively political approach that recognizes the social sources of power on the one hand and sources of moral motivation on the other. Public goods such as education, (...) healthcare, and transport systems are indispensable to the forging of solidarity, but at the same time they may become sources of oppression or injustice, when they fail to respect individual autonomy or when they calcify majoritarian preferences. The essays in this volume explore different features of the political, moral and civic approaches to solidarity. The moral theory of solidarity is advanced in one case as an intrinsically valuable concept of social connectedness and in another as an approach of epistemic deference; a structural account of solidarity theorizes about action against racial oppression, and a power-relations account points at the urgency of the affective, non-rational dimensions of solidarity. The social value of property and its moral implications are articulated through the lens of French 19th Century ‘Solidarism’ and as a complementary theory to left-libertarianism. Public goods are defended as instrumental to solidarity, in one case within a liberal framework and in another within a human-perfectionism framework. By providing a series of thought-provoking debates about social obligations and justice, the volume re-establishes solidarity and public goods as pertinent concepts for theorizing about social justice and inequality. (shrink)
European Journal of Political Theory, Volume 21, Issue 1, Page 25-46, January 2022. This article explains how 19th-century radical republicans answered the following question: how is it possible to be free in a social order that fosters economic dependence on others? I focus on the writings of a group of French thinkers called the solidarists who advocated “liberty organized for everyone.” Mutualism and social right were two components of the solidarist strategy for limiting domination in commercial/industrial society. While the doctrine (...) of mutualism was rooted in pre-industrial artisan culture, social right was a novel idea that built on Durkheim’s analysis of the division of labour. In this article, I describe the main features of the solidarist account: solidarity, social property, quasi-contractual debt, and restorative justice. Classical republicanism was deeply concerned with citizen participation and the balance between popular and elite power, but 19th-century radical republicans thought that these goals must be approached differently in market societies in which enormous power is exercised outside the state. The solidarists cautiously embraced the state as a mechanism for regulating the market in order to ensure equal liberty. Social right and mutualism were also conceived as ways of limiting the centralization of state power. (shrink)
The paper argues that the liberal approach to social rights is contradictory and provides an alternative account that draws on solidarism, a strand of nineteenth-century French Republican thought. Solidarism links together a normative theory of social obligation and a descriptive account of social value, debt and unearned increment. The theory of social property provides a distinctive foundation for social rights.
This introductory article summarizes some key elements of Monique Deveaux’s book Poverty, Solidarity, and Poor-Led Social Movements and situates that book in the philosophical literature on global poverty. It then provides an outline of the symposium contributions by Ashwini Vasanthakumar, Luis Cabrera, Brooke Ackerly, Catherine Lu, and Avery Kolers.
This essay provides an interpretation of Sayyid Jamāl ad-Dīn al-Afghānī, a controversial figure in nineteenth-century Islamic political thought. One aspect of this controversy is the tension between "Refutation of the Materialists," Afghānī's well-known defense of religious orthodoxy, and a short newspaper article entitled "Reply to Renan" that dismisses prophetic religion as dogmatic and intellectually stifling. In this essay I argue that close attention to Afghānī's theory of civilization helps resolve this apparent contradiction. Afghānī's interest in Ibn Khaldūn and the French (...) historian Guizot is well known, but has not been fully explored in the literature. I suggest that understanding Guizot's distinctive approach to the concept of civilization illuminates Afghānī's writings on the political utility of religion. Afghānī was an ardent anti-imperialist and his goal was to encourage reform in Islamic countries while resisting Western hegemony. He concluded that the tension between prophetic religion and critical thought could help Islamic civilization to flourish. (shrink)
Colonialism and Its Legacy brings together essays by leading scholars in both the fields of political theory and the history of political thought about European colonialism and its legacies, and postcolonial social and political theory. The essays explore the ways in which European colonial projects structured and shaped much of modern political theory, how concepts from political philosophy affected and were realized in colonial and imperial practice, and how we can understand the intellectual and social world left behind by a (...) half-millennium of European empires. (shrink)
This article explains how 19th-century radical republicans answered the following question: how is it possible to be free in a social order that fosters economic dependence on others? I focus on the writings of a group of French thinkers called the solidarists who advocated “liberty organized for everyone.” Mutualism and social right were two components of the solidarist strategy for limiting domination in commercial/industrial society. While the doctrine of mutualism was rooted in pre-industrial artisan culture, social right was a novel (...) idea that built on Durkheim’s analysis of the division of labour. In this article, I describe the main features of the solidarist account: solidarity, social property, quasi-contractual debt, and restorative justice. Classical republicanism was deeply concerned with citizen participation and the balance between popular and elite power, but 19th-century radical republicans thought that these goals must be approached differently in market societies in which enormous power is exercised outside the state. The solidarists cautiously embraced the state as a mechanism for regulating the market in order to ensure equal liberty. Social right and mutualism were also conceived as ways of limiting the centralization of state power. (shrink)
This article develops a novel approach to the relationship between public space and democracy. It employs the concept of the spectacle to show how public space can serve to destroy or weaken solidarity just as easily as it can foster a democratic ethos of equality. A close reading of Rousseau's Letter to M. d'Alembert on the Theatre helps illuminate the political implications of modern public life, which increasingly takes the form of passive individuals assembling in order to view a spectacle. (...) According to Rousseau, spectacles like the theater are depoliticizing because they undermine the opportunity for active participation and interaction with other citizens. By habituating the audience to theatrical modes of self-presentation, they also weaken the capacity for empathy. This article concludes by showing how contemporary theorists including Sennett, Debord and Habermas also contribute to our understanding of the concept of the spectacle. Key Words: citizenship • democracy • festival • public space • Jean-Jacques Rousseau • Richard Sennett • spectacle • theater. (shrink)