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Article

Access_open The Justification of Basic Rights

A Discourse-Theoretical Approach

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Keywords Basic rights, Right to justification, Discourse theory, Non-domination, Kant
Authors Rainer Forst
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this paper, I suggest a discourse theory of basic legal rights that is superior to rival approaches, such as a will-based or an interest-based theory of rights. Basic rights are reciprocally and generally justifiable and binding claims on others (agents or institutions) that they should do (or refrain from doing) certain things determined by the content of these rights. We call these rights basic because they define the status of persons as full members of a normative order in such a way that they provide protection from severe forms of legal, political and social domination. The very ground of these rights is the status of persons as free and equal normative authorities within the order they are subject to. In other words, these rights are grounded in a fundamental moral right to justification.


Rainer Forst
Rainer Forst is professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at the Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main.
Article

Access_open The Justification of Basic Rights

A Response to Forst

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Keywords Basic rights, Justification, Kant
Authors Glen Newey
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper responds to Rainer Forst’s article ‘The Justification of Basic Rights’. I argue that Forst's main thesis is difficult to pin down, partly because it is formulated in significantly distinct ways at numerous points. I offer a possible formulation of the argument but note that this encapsulates a fallacy; I further argue that his inference of the basic rights seems to imply an over-moralisation of social life and that his argument does not distinguish rights with discretionary and non-discretionary content. Then I query Forst’s claim that a right to justification is a condition of engaging in justificatory discourse. This leads to the conclusion that what goes into the process of justification, including who figures in the discursive community, are irreducibly political questions, whose answers cannot be convincingly specified antecedently by a form of moral legislation. I argue that actual discursive processes allow for considerably more contingency and contextual variability than Forst’s construction acknowledges. This extends, as I suggest in conclusion, to the idea that content can be specified via the Kantian notion that acceptability requires the ‘containment’ of an actor's ends by another, such as an affected party.


Glen Newey
Glen Newey is professor of Political Philosophy and Ethics at Leiden University.
Editorial

Access_open Rainer Forst: The Justification of Basic Rights

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Authors Bertjan Wolthuis, Elaine Mak and Lisette ten Haaf
Author's information

Bertjan Wolthuis
Bertjan Wolthuis is assistant professor at the Department of Legal Theory and Legal History, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Elaine Mak
Elaine Mak is professor of Jurisprudence at the Institute of Constitutional, Administrative Law and Legal Theory, Utrecht University

Lisette ten Haaf
Lisette ten Haaf is PhD candidate at the Department of Legal Theory and Legal History, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Article

Access_open On the Justification of Basic Rights

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Keywords Basic rights, Right to justification, Discourse theory, Considered judgements, Philosophical methodology
Authors Laura Valentini
AbstractAuthor's information

    In his thought-provoking article, Rainer Forst develops a discourse-theoretical approach to the justification of basic rights, and argues that it is superior to interest-based and autonomy-based views. I cast doubt on the superiority of the discourse-theoretical approach. I suggest that, on reflection, the approach suffers from the same difficulties that Forst believes undermine rival views. My discussion raises broader questions about what desiderata a good justification of basic rights should satisfy.


Laura Valentini
Laura Valentini is associate professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Article

Access_open What Does it Mean to Justify Basic Rights?

Reply to Düwell, Newey, Rummens and Valentini

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Authors Rainer Forst
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this paper, I reply to the four comments on my paper ‘The Justification of Basic Rights: A Discourse-Theoretical Approach’ given by Laura Valentini, Marcus Düwell, Stefan Rummens and Glen Newey.


Rainer Forst
Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at the Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main.
Article

Access_open Frankfurt Goes Kantian – But How Does It Work?

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Keywords Human dignity, Transcendental arguments, Discourse ethics, Kantian ethics, Human rights
Authors Marcus Düwell
AbstractAuthor's information

    The paper discusses Forst’s discourse- theoretical adaption of the Kantian heritage. If Forst sees a Kantian concept of human dignity as the basis of his approach, he cannot rely on Habermas’ (quasi-)transcendental argument. It is furthermore questionable why Forst proposes that the content of human rights can only be determined in a procedural way. An alternative would be to determine the content from the normative starting point of human dignity.


Marcus Düwell
Marcus Düwell is professor of Philosophical Ethics and director of the Ethics Institute, Utrecht University.
Article

Access_open Two Sides of the Same Coin

Unpacking Rainer Forst’s Basic Right to Justification

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2016
Authors Stefan Rummens
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper makes two comments on Rainer Forst’s keynote contribution. It argues, first, that three important distinctions introduced by Forst are, in fact, all different versions of the more primary distinction between the a priori reconstruction of basic rights by philosophers and the discursive construction of basic rights by citizens. It proposes, secondly, an alternative discourse-theoretical reconstruction which makes a distinction between the basic right to justification and the basic right to choose your own ends as two different but inseparable rights – two sides of the same coin – which jointly provide the moral ground for our basic rights as citizens.


Stefan Rummens
Stefan Rummens is professor of Moral Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy of KU Leuven.

    In this article I develop a political realist notion of public reason. It may be thought that a notion of public reason is simply incompatible with the position of the political realist. But this article claims that a realist notion of public reason, different from the familiar political liberal idea of public reason, can be reconstructed from ancient texts on rhetoric and dialectic, particularly Aristotle's. The specification of this notion helps us understand the differences between contemporary liberal and realist positions.


Bertjan Wolthuis
Bertjan Wolthuis is Assistant Professor of Legal Theory at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Article

Access_open Freedom of Religion, Inc.: Whose Sovereignty?

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2015
Keywords accommodation, freedom of religion, political theology, liberalism, liberty of conscience
Authors Jean L. Cohen
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article focuses on an expansive conception of religious freedom propagated by a vocal group of American legal scholars – jurisdictional pluralists – often working with well-funded conservative foundations and influencing accommodation decisions throughout the US. I show that the proliferation of ‘accommodation’ claims in the name of church autonomy and religious conscience entailing exemption from civil regulation and anti-discrimination laws required by justice have a deep structure that has little to do with fairness or inclusion or liberal pluralism. Instead they are tantamount to sovereignty claims, involving powers and immunities for the religious, implicitly referring to another, higher law and sovereign than the constitution or the people. The twenty-first century version of older pluralist ‘freedom of religion’ discourses also rejects the comprehensive jurisdiction and scope of public, civil law – this time challenging the ‘monistic sovereignty’ of the democratic constitutional state. I argue that the jurisdictional pluralist approach to religious freedom challenges liberal democratic constitutionalism at its core and should be resisted wherever it arises.


Jean L. Cohen
Jean L. Cohen is the Nell and Herbert M. Singer Professor of Political Thought and Contemporary Civilization at the Department of Political Science of Columbia University (New York) and will be the Emile Noel Fellow at the Jean Monet Center of the NYU Law School from January till June 2016.
Article

Access_open Private law and ethical life

Honneth on legal freedom and its pathologies

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2013
Keywords Honneth, Hegel, social freedom, legal freedom, law, pathologies
Authors Jan Ph. Broekhuizen
AbstractAuthor's information

    In Das Recht der Freiheit Axel Honneth develops his concept of social freedom. In this article I discuss Honneth’s project and critique one of its crucial aspects: Honneth’s views on the disruptive role of legal freedom in our society and its dependent relation to the sphere of social freedom. I argue that in his attempt in Das Recht der Freiheit to reactualize Hegel’s discourse on the realization of freedom for our time, Honneth risks mistranslating Hegel’s discourse of ‘right’ by denying the sphere of legal relations a constitutive role for true freedom, and that because of this Honneth’s own theory of social freedom suffers: it becomes less clear whether it can still offer helpful insights into the proper place of legal freedom in our society.


Jan Ph. Broekhuizen
Jan Broekhuizen is an attorney (advocaat) in Amsterdam and a deputy judge at the Court of Appeals in Den Bosch (the Netherlands). He holds degrees in both law and philosophy.
Book Review

Access_open Marc Hertogh, De levende rechtsstaat. Een ander perspectief op recht en openbaar bestuur

Utrecht: Lemma 2002, 135 p.; Sophie van Bijsterveld, The Empty Throne. Democracy and the Rule of Law in Transition, Utrecht: Lemma 2002

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2003
Authors B.F. Beljaars

B.F. Beljaars
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