Contemporary philosophical pluralism recognizes the
inevitability and legitimacy of multiple ethical perspectives and
values, making it difficult to isolate the higher-order principles
on which to base a theory of justice. Rising up to meet this
challenge, Rainer Forst, a leading member of the Frankfurt School's
newest generation of philosophers, conceives of an "autonomous"
construction of justice founded on what he calls the basic moral
right to justification.
Forst begins by identifying this right from the perspective of
moral philosophy. Then, through an innovative, detailed critical
analysis, he ties together the central components of social and
political justice-freedom, democracy, equality, and toleration-and
joins them to the right to justification. The resulting theory
treats "justificatory power" as the central question of justice,
and by adopting this approach, Forst argues, we can discursively
work out, or "construct," principles of justice, especially with
respect to transnational justice and human rights issues.
As he builds his theory, Forst engages with the work of
Anglo-American philosophers such as John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, and
Amartya Sen, and critical theorists such as Jürgen Habermas, Nancy
Fraser, and Axel Honneth. Straddling multiple subjects, from
politics and law to social protest and philosophical conceptions of
practical reason, Forst brilliantly gathers contesting claims
around a single, elastic theory of justice.
Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science
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