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A Study in Transborder Ethics

Justice, Citizenship, Civility- Foreword by Daniel Innerarity


Geneviève Souillac

A renewed approach to democratic ethics is needed, one that takes into consideration the management of complexity and memory in a global world. The expansion of democratic ethics for the stewardship of a postnational, postmetaphysical, and postsecular world is the object of this book. It takes as its point of departure current proposals for global democratic justice, but extends these by incorporating contemporary European ideas on border and existential ethics. The privilege of democratic citizenship includes our conscious involvement with our historical destinies, and with others whom we inevitably encounter on our journey of contemporary politics. A post-heroic approach to democratic ethics, one which takes violence and injustice seriously, yet understands the constraints posed on us as historical beings, is necessary. The practices of civility, such as they arise from a normative democratic universe and the ever-increasing role of civil society, can be harnessed for a transborder ethics. The examination of a contemporary democratic anthropology that includes a phenomenology of violence further clarifies the importance of intersubjective processes of encounter, dialogue, and recognition.


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CHAPTER I Democratic Memory and the Democratic Deficit: The Shadow of Rousseau


Un peuple, dit Grotius, peut se donner à son roi. Selon Grotius un peuple est donc un peuple avant de se donner à un roi. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Du Contrat Social It is not an easy task to articulate the goals of popular representation, individual rights, and social justice as interconnected ends of democracy. Understanding these goals in terms of their complex historical and intellectual origins provides important insights into the complexity of the democratic journey as an ethical project. The realization of popular sovereignty through popular representation constitutes the primary site of ambiguity for democracy, leading to the requirement to “excavate the assumptions in the shadow theory”.1 As Robert Dahl simply asks, “who ought to comprise ‘the people’ and what does it mean for them ‘to rule?’”, or, put another way, “what constitutes ‘a people’ for purposes of democratic government?”.2 Modern democracy differs from the classical democratic model of Ancient Greece not only in its scale. It also expresses a shift in the democratic model from the city state encapsulated in the polis, to the modern nation state. The scale of modern democracies puts democratic utopianism and the democratic ideal to the test, leading Dahl to query once again, “(c)an both the normative and the empirical aspects of democracy be combined in a single theoretical perspective?”.3 Rousseau’s general will haunts appeals to democratic justice. However, as Dahl observes, “(m)ajority might does not make majority right”.4 As Rousseau also indicates, a social, as much as a...

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