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The Justice of Justification

The Justice of Justification

January 7, 2011 -
1:15pm to 3:00pm
Event Speaker: 
Anthony Laden, Professor of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Event Sponsor: 
The Munro Lectureship Fund and The Lane Center
Abstract: 
Jürgen Habermas describes his criticism of John Rawls’s Political Liberalism as “within the bounds of a family dispute.”2 As the context of his remark shows, Habermas means that he regards the differences between his own work and Rawls’s as, on the whole, minor and perhaps that he is moved by a kind of philosophical friendship to bring Rawls back into the fold of the Kantian family. Rawls’s reply, however, especially in the remark about philosophical experts, makes their exchange much more like an ordinary, nonphilosophical, family dispute, or so I argue. For while family disputes are characterized by friendly feeling and small differences, it is also characteristic of family disputes that though the participants share a common framework and common roots, they often end up talking past one another. Furthermore, talking past one another is often a sign that a family is in the process of doing what Hegel insisted families naturally do: dissolve as children grow up and go their separate ways. Habermas worries that Rawls does not always “bring to bear against his critics his important normative intuitions in their most compelling form,” and suggests, in effect, that he could do so by bringing his view more in
line with Habermas’s own political philosophy.3 Rather than prompting a display of family unity and a return to the fold, replying to Habermas led Rawls to fi nally and most fully articulate their fundamental differences, to make it clear where he had set out on his own.
Biography: 

Anthony Laden is a Professor of Philosophy at University of Illinois at Chicago.