Forst, the right to justification and discursive respect

When:28 Oct 2014, 12:30pm - 2pm
Venue:Morven Brown 310 (map ref C20)
Who:Thomas Besch
Thomas Besch

Philosophy Seminar

Rainer Forst’s constructivism aspires to justify human rights on categorical, reasonably non-rejectable grounds. It is a key objective of his approach to provide an alternative to “ethical” accounts that justify these rights hypothetically on grounds that (allegedly) can reasonably be rejected. I argue that Forst’s constructivism does not achieve this objective. To this end, I engage two lines of thought at its centre: one builds on a view to the effect that respect for other people commits us to accord them a right to justification, the other revolves around the theme that our validity claims commit us to justifications by a constructivist standard of reciprocity and generality. Yet none of this can yield the sought-after categorical grounding of human rights. At most, it yields a hypothetical justification on grounds that can reasonably be rejected – namely, a commitment to the good of constitutive discursive standing. Taking this to be an important good may be plausible to many, but it stands in need of justification: this opens the door wide for “ethical” accounts.

Thomas Besch is Lecturer in philosophy at the University of Sydney. He works mainly in the area of contemporary political and moral philosophy, with particular focus on the issue of diversity and discursive inclusion. He has also worked on questions about the phenomenology and epistemology of practical reasoning. Recent work has been published in Social Theory and Practice, European Journal of Philosophy, and Journal of Value Inquiry. He received his PhD from Oxford University, and taught previously at Bilkent University in Ankara, before coming to Sydney.

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