The Force of the Example

The Force of the Example: Explorations in the Paradigm of Judgment

Amy Allen
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The Force of the Example
    Book Description:

    During the twentieth century, the view that assertions and norms are valid insofar as they respond to principles independent of all local and temporal contexts came under attack from two perspectives: the partiality of translation and the intersubjective constitution of the self, understood as responsive to recognition. Defenses of universalism have by and large taken the form of a thinning out of substantive universalism into various forms of proceduralism.

    Alessandro Ferrara instead launches an entirely different strategy for transcending the particularity of context without contradicting our pluralistic intuitions: a strategy centered on the exemplary universalism of judgment. Whereas exemplarity has long been thought to belong to the domain of aesthetics, this book explores the other uses to which it can be put in our philosophical predicament, especially in the field of politics. After defining exemplarity and describing how something unique can possess universal significance, Ferrara addresses the force exerted by exemplarity, the nature of the judgment that discloses exemplarity, and the way in which the force of the example can bridge the difference between various contexts.

    Drawing not only on Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment but also on the work of Hannah Arendt, John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, and Jürgen Habermas, Ferrara outlines a view of exemplary validity that is applicable to today's central philosophical issues, including public reason, human rights, radical evil, sovereignty, republicanism and liberalism, and religion in the public sphere.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51192-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-15)

    Diverse and far apart though our cultures might be, the world that you and I inhabit is shaped by three great forces. The first and most powerful of them is the force of what exists, of what is already there, in place—the force of things. We experience this force in two fundamental ways. Sometimes we encounter it as the force of habit and routine, of tradition, of mores and custom, of culture, of convention, of usage, of established practice and received wisdom. Society as we know it would simply be impossible if we were to reinvent the terms of...

  5. 1 Judgment as a Paradigm
    (pp. 16-41)

    The conversation of philosophers unfolds over the ages with a continuity of themes and paradigms that only at infrequent junctures undergoes a significant reconfiguring. One of the most interesting among these turning points is constituted by the publication of Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment. Kant’s work of 1790 inaugurates a new paradigm for thinking of validity and normativity—the judgment paradigm—that further modifies a philosophical horizon already reshaped in depth by the more often celebrated Critique of Pure Reasonand Critique of Practical Reason and whose full promise begins to be recognized, for reasons that I will try...

  6. 2 Making Sense of the Exemplary
    (pp. 42-61)

    One of the most interesting contributions to an understanding of the legacy and import of theCritique of the Power of Judgmentis Hannah Arendt’s doctrine of judgment. For the purpose of further exploring the potential of the paradigm of judgment, it is essential to come to terms with her version of the notion of exemplaryvalidity. In this chapter I begin with a brief reconstruction of the role of judgment in Arendt’s thought and of the main points of her theory of judgment, then will discuss that which in my opinion remains a problematic area, and will conclude with some tentative considerations...

  7. 3 The Exemplary and the Public Realm: Reconstructing the Normativity of the Reasonable
    (pp. 62-79)

    The notion of exemplarity can be of only limited use to our reflections about politics unless we develop an understanding of what exemplarity could mean in the public realm and how its inherent normativity could play a role at that level. One way of contributing to such an understanding consists in reconstructing the kind of normativity underlying Rawls’s notions of public reason and of the reasonable. According to a somewhat popular but deeply misguided view, the transition from the framework ofA Theory of Justiceto that ofPolitical Liberalismwould entail a loss of normativity, so to speak, and therefore a diminished relevance...

  8. 4 Exemplifying the Worst: Facing up to Radical Evil
    (pp. 80-98)

    Unfortunately, exemplarity in the public realm is not just about the force of the reasonable. Just as crucial, for buttressing the viability of the paradigm of judgment, is the task of making sense of the repulsive force exerted by radical evil when it is identified as such. The flip side of reasonability is negative exemplarity, that from which we recoil in utter horror—as the hero of Heart of Darknessat the end of his life—or, in other words, evil as the exemplification of the worst we could possibly be. In this chapter the relation of radical evil, judgment, and...

  9. 5 Political Republicanism and the Force of the Example
    (pp. 99-120)

    Political traditions and philosophical conceptions differ on the extent to which they allow the force of the example, and judgment, to play a role within their framework. Only the most extreme embed the ambition to filter out any and all possible role that judgment and exemplarity might play—game theoretical approaches to political choice are of this kind, for instance—but by and large all conceptions of normativity do attribute to judgment a role at least in discerning the correct and appropriate application of independently established principles of a more general nature. Republicanism, among the various traditions in political philosophy,...

  10. 6 Exemplarity and Human Rights
    (pp. 121-146)

    Exemplarity can be shown to be a useful notion not only for making sense of the normativity of the reasonable, the radicality of radical evil, and the specificity of the republican tradition but also for the grounding of human rights within a larger conception of justice on a global scale.

    Here again a word on our present predicament may be in order. Never in history has the need for a global rule of law based on a universalist understanding of justice been more acutely felt and yet at the same time perceived as an elusive chimera. On the one hand,...

  11. 7 Enforcing Human Rights Between Westphalia and Cosmopolis
    (pp. 147-163)

    Let me start with the abused metaphor of the wade. At the present stage within the so-called global age we find ourselves at an indeterminate point in our wading between two shores that are conceptually quite clear and distinct: namely, the one constituted by a Westphalian system of sovereign states that relate to one another as if they were in a state of nature, only sporadically interrupted by alliances and pacts entered voluntarily and always rescindable, and the opposite shore constituted by a hypothetical cosmopolis where the different parts of the globe, be they traditional nation-states or postnational entities of...

  12. 8 Europe as a Special Area for Human Hope
    (pp. 164-184)

    As a European, few expressions irritate me more than the so-called idea of Europe. I find the exercise of grafting a possible identity for the Europeans onto some philosophical or religious concept both futile and arrogant, indeed, a perfect example of what Europeans had better stay away from. This is not to say, however, that a reflection on what is distinctive about Europe in the larger context of contemporary Western society is purposeless. On the contrary, it is a priority, given the “constitutional” moment that the European Union has been undergoing since the formal signing of the Constitutional Treaty and...

  13. 9 Religion Within the Limits of Reasonableness
    (pp. 185-204)

    As the title suggests, something has changed in the relation between religion and politics as the twentieth century passed into the next. What precisely has changed is the subject discussed in this chapter. Is the demand emerging within Western democratic societies for a more conspicuous and visible “public role” to be played by religious faith, or at least for deprivatization of religious affiliation and conduct, justified and legitimate? What are the implications of acknowledging this transformation of our public space for our understanding of the nexus of religion, modern society, and politics?

    To start this I suggest one should concentrate...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 205-226)
  15. Index
    (pp. 227-236)