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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 III Towards a Political Anthropology of Modernity: Debt of Meaning, Democratic Condition


Céder à la force est un acte de nécessité, non de volonté … En quel sens pourra-ce être un devoir? Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Du contrat social The dilemmas of cosmopolitan ethics reveal the complexities of the democratic stewardship of the world. A global democratic society finds its legitimacy and moral authority in its defense of human rights and human security. But the realities of political modernity bring to the fore the ambiguous articulation of pluralism with normative universality in a global world. The compelling requirement of survival and the many enduring forms of blatant inequality furnish the missing links for a paradigm shift. The concern with the human rights of those who are totally or significantly deprived of their human rights – refugees and asylum-seekers, the stateless, and the poor – will show a genuine extension of democratic justice in a global and conflictual world. Such recognition constitutes the veritable test of the universal claims of democratic justice today. It additionally implies a shift in our conception of what constitutes sovereign autonomy, and to what degree the claims of state sovereignty can be legitimately articulated against those of international cooperation on behalf of human rights. Attention to the anxieties which traverse cosmopolitan claims, especially with regard to diversity, difference, and conflict, is thus required. The discomfort with regard to the global extension of democratic norms is both due to the historical imposition of a Western moral and political world view, and to the radical encounter with difference brought about by the cosmopolitan vision...

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