Dissensus, ethics and the politics of democracy

Ewa Płonowska Ziarek

in Democracy in Crisis

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780719079238
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702123 | DOI:
Dissensus, ethics and the politics of democracy

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This chapter addresses the limitations of contemporary debates on ethics and democracy. It discusses the notion of heteronomous freedom and its relation to ethical obligation, political antagonism and sexual difference. It proposes a feminist democratic praxis and an ethics of dissensus, which opposes the conservative political work performed by privatized moral discourse and is inseparable from transformative praxis which aims to change unjust power relations and to acknowledge infinite responsibility for violence and the oppression of others. This chapter argues that the effectiveness of democratic struggles against racist and sexist oppression depend on an ethical-political understanding of freedom that side-steps the seemingly intractable debate between the two positions available today: the liberal position that seeks normative criteria for the determination of political justice beyond difference and the communitarian position that advocates the continued contestation or negotiation of heterogeneous forces based on an ethical obligation to the other.

Keywords: ethics; democracy; heteronomous freedom; ethical obligation; political antagonism; ethics of dissensus; freedom; political justice

Chapter.  8612 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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