Between measurability and immeasurability : the politics of care in Habermas and Derrida

Ganis, R 2009, Between measurability and immeasurability : the politics of care in Habermas and Derrida , PhD thesis, Salford : University of Salford.

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This study considers whether the tradition of moral universalism is correct to dissociate the asymmetrical perspective of "care" from the principle of impartial treatment for all or whether there is in fact a legitimate and indeed necessary place for the care perspective when addressing questions of universal justice. In examining this question, the study utilises the writings of Jiirgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida as a philosophical backdrop, according particular attention to each thinker's engagement with the principle of "measure." It notes that unlike Derrida, Habermas sets forth a categorical distinction between instrumental measure (oriented towards the world of objects) and noninstrumental measure (appropriate to the realm of the social). From this vantage point, not every effort to "count" is as injurious to "difference" as Derrida alleges. In fact, in distinguishing "communicative reason" from "instrumental reason," Habermas is able to envisage a type of measurable equality that is facilitative of human flourishing rather than a hindrance to it. In failing to bifurcate the principle of measure in these terms, Derrida's deconstructive care ethics invites the prospect of not only moral relativism but also of a "re-enchanted" conception of nature and the knowledge of nature. The thesis appeals to the dialogue that the two thinkers have initiated in an effort to lay the groundwork for a reconstructed critical theory that is more accommodative of the gesture of unlimited care for a single unrepresentable individual than Habermas's discourse-ethical project has being willing to countenance. Yet in so doing, it is at pains to assure that such an intervention does not undermine the categorical primacy accorded to universalistic moral rights and duties in the philosophical tradition of Kant. Although it finds the recognition theory advanced by Axel Honneth to be encumbered by a number of conceptual difficulties, the thesis positions Honneth's framework as a promising launching point for such a reconstruction.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Bratsis, P (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
Depositing User: Institutional Repository
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2012 13:34
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2022 11:26

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