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Seyla Benhabib

Seyla Benhabib is Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University and author of The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era and other books.

Titles by This Editor

Essays for Richard J. Bernstein

The work of Richard J. Bernstein has achieved a groundbreaking synthesis of the analytical and continental modes of thought. Countering the highly technical metaphysical and epistemological puzzles of analytic philosophy in the early 1960s, Bernstein offered a model of philosophy in a democratic society as the work of the engaged public intellectual. Working within the tradition of American pragmatism, he also changed that tradition by opening it to the international intellectual currents of phenomenology, deconstructionism, and critical theory. These essays by leading philosophers and social thinkers pay tribute to Bernstein and reflect the themes that have engaged him throughout his career.

Pragmatism, Critique, Judgment opens with a group of essays that examine the place of philosophy in a democratic society; included in this section are Richard Rorty's exploration of the legacy of American pragmatism and Jürgen Habermas's reconsideration of ethics in philosophy. The essays in the second section examine postpositivist social critique and include Jacques Derrida's consideration of the philosophical paradoxes of the death penalty. The third group of essays considers the theme of radical evil, and includes discussions of Bernstein's nuanced reading of Hannah Arendt. The book ends with a biographical essay based in part on a series of conversations with Bernstein himself.

Critical Essays on The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity

This collection of ten essays offers the first systematic assessment of Jürgen Habermas's Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, a book that defended the rational potential of the modern age against the depiction of modernity as a spent epoch. The essays (of which four are newly commissioned, five were published in the journal Praxis International, and one—by Habermas—first appeared in translation in New Critique) are divided into two sections: Critical Rejoinders and Thematic Reformulations.

An opening essay by d'Entrèves sets out the main issues and orients the debate between Habermas and the postmodernists by identifying two different senses of responsibility: a responsibility to act versus a responsibility to otherness (an openness to difference, dissonance, and ambiguity). These are linked with two alternative understandings of the primary function of language: action-orienting versus world-disclosing. This is a fruitful way of looking at the issues that Habermas has raised in his attempt to resurrect and complete the project of Enlightenment.

Habermas's essay discusses the main themes of his book in the context of a critical engagement with neoconservative cultural and political trends. The main body of essays offer an interesting collection of points of view, for and against Habermas's position by philosophers, social scientists, intellectual historians, and literary critics.

SECTIONS & CONTRIBUTORS: Introduction, Maurizio Passerin d'Entrèves. Modernity versus Postmodernity, Jürgen Habermas. Critical Rejoinders: Fred Dallmayr. Christopher Norris. David C. Hoy. James Schmidt. Joel Whitebook. Thematic Reformulations: James Bohman. Diana Coole. Jay M. Bernstein. David Ingram.

New Perspectives


Max Horkheimer (1895-1973), one of the founders of critical theory and a sometime colleague of Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, and Walter Benjamin, has become a subject of renewed attention and appreciation in Germany in the last decade. This collection of essays by German and American scholars will help familiarize English-speaking readers with the most important results of this recent work and, in conjunction with a companion volume of Horkheimer's essays, Between Philosophy and Social Science, should provide a much fuller and deeper picture of his role in the history of modern social theory.


This timely reader in moral philosophy addresses a controversy that strongly affected recent European reflections on the relevance of ethics for theories of democratic institutions and democratic legitimacy. The debate centers around the idea of a communicative ethics as articulated by Jürgen Habermas and Karl-Otto Apel, and it is representative both of recent attempts to bridge the gap between Continental and Anglo-American philosophy and of the turn to language that has characterized much of recent philosophy.

The Communicative Ethics Controversy illustrates philosophical dialogue in action, moving from theses to counterarguments to rejoinders. Theoretical statements by Habermas, Apel, and two of their leading students, Dietrich Böhler and Robert Alexy, are followed by a series of five arguments by their leading critics, who represent viewpoints ranging from Kantian idealism to Wittgensteinian ordinary-language theory. Fred Dallmayr's introduction and Seyla Benhabib's incisive conclusion place the debate in perspective, bringing it up to date and relating it to the Anglo-American context.

Seyla Benhabib is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Women's Studies at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. Fred Dallmayr is Packey Dee Professor of Government at the University of Notre Dame.

Contributors: Robert Alexy. Karl-Otto Apel. Seyla Benhabib. Dietrich Bohler. Jurgen Habermas. Otfried Hoffe. KarlHeinz Ilting. Hermann Lubbe. Herbert Schnadelbach. Albrecht Wellmer.