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A Brief Evaluation of Postmodern Thought over the Debate on Justice and Its Implication in an International Context

This study considers the assumption that postmodern thought rejects universal values by investigating the concept of justice. The use of the term postmodern in literature and philosophy suggests dissatisfaction of expression within Western thought pointing out the ‘temporal’ and ‘logical’ limitation of modernity.

To explore the modern/postmodern debate the positions on justice of Rawls and Lyotard are investigated. Rawls is committed to providing a concrete criterion upon which principles of justice can find agreement once all differences have been settled. On the other hand, Lyotard maintains that there cannot be a common criterion upon which justice can be formulated and instead recognizes the ‘heterogeneity’ of language. This study reflects on the ethical instances which constitute the basis of both positions.

Within the international arena, after Sep 11th, the disagreement about justice is between the liberal concept of international law, and the distinction of moral arguments upon which international decisions are taken but taking distance from international cooperation. However, these two approaches relies on the recognition of universal moral principles, therefore, this study critically evaluates them under a postmodern understanding.

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1 INTRODUCTION With this study I intend to explore the implication of postmodern political thought and evaluate its position within the philosophical discourse given the assumption that postmodernism as an ‘idea’ (Anderson1998: vii) is the refusal of universal claims. It can be argued that rejecting universalism is a universal claim in itself and therefore, the postmodern approach shows a certain degree of contradiction and inconsistency in its pretensions. To delineate this inconsistency, the concept of justice will be considered in order to define the characteristic of postmodernism in relation to the political decisions which shaped recent international disagreements reflected in the failure of the United Nations Security Council and which raised ethical questions in relation to justice. This enquiry seeks to understand, on the one hand, the belief that the postmodern approach implies being ‘irrational’ and precursor of terror and therefore should be rejected and on the other hand the view that a postmodern perspective can be interpreted as a self critique of modernity (Bauman 1993:9). Postmodern thought has in relatively recent philosophical debate brought to attention concerns which carry ethical implications posing inevitable questions about the legitimacy of rejecting universalism, but at the same time , however, it has questioned the possibility of working out a ‘philosophical ethics’ which would have universal recognition. (Madison and Fairbairm 1999:1-4). In this context, the aim of this study is to position this perspective within the dialogue about justice since traditionally such concepts demand universal recognition and carry universal ethical arguments. However, justice and postmodernism are very broad and vague terms and a study of both requires the identification of specific areas, to allow a closer evaluation. In each case therefore, a particular aspect will be considered with the intention of providing a consistent argument of investigation. Because of the nature of the argument, in terms of compatibility, one of the main tasks will be to find affiliations, which justify consideration for this area of study. Within the postmodern argumentation some of the works of Jean-François Lyotard (1924- 1998) will be considered. This choice is determined by the importance of the French thinker acquired as a postmodern since the publication of La Condition Postmoderne (1979). It is often claimed that Lyotard is the first, within philosophical discourse, to describe a certain

Tesi di Master

Autore: Marco Boschele Contatta »

Composta da 82 pagine.


Questa tesi ha raggiunto 90 click dal 21/05/2009.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.