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James Bohman

James Bohman is Danforth Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University. He is the author, editor, or translator of many books.

Titles by This Author

From Dêmos to Dêmoi

Today democracy is both exalted as the "best means to realize human rights" and seen as weakened because of globalization and delegation of authority beyond the nation-state. In this provocative book, James Bohman argues that democracies face a period of renewal and transformation and that democracy itself needs redefinition according to a new transnational ideal. Democracy, he writes, should be rethought in the plural; it should no longer be understood as rule by the people (dêmos), singular, with a specific territorial identification and connotation, but as rule by peoples (dêmoi), across national boundaries. Bohman shows that this new conception of transnational democracy requires reexamination of such fundamental ideas as the people, the public, citizenship, human rights, and federalism, and he argues that it offers a feasible approach to realizing democracy in a globalized world.In his account, Bohman establishes the conceptual foundations of transnational democracy by examining in detail current theories of democracy beyond the nation-state (including those proposed by Rawls, Habermas, Held, and Dryzek) and offers a deliberative alternative. He considers the importance of communicative freedom in the transnational public sphere (including networked communication over the Internet), human rights as the normative basis of transnational democracy, and the European Union as a transnational polity. Finally, he examines the relationship between peace and democracy, concluding that peace requires democratization on interacting state and suprastate levels.

Pluralism, Complexity, and Democracy

How can we create a vital and inclusive pluralistic democracy? In Public Deliberation, James Bohman offers answers to this question, showing how democratic theory and democratic practice can be remade to face new challenges. Arguing against the skepticism about democracy that flourishes today on both ends of the political spectrum, Bohman proposes a model of public deliberation that will allow expansions of democratic practice, even in the face of increasing pluralism, inequality, and social complexity.

Bohman develops a realistic model of deliberation by gradually introducing and analyzing the major tests facing deliberative democracy: cultural pluralism, social inequalities, social complexity, and community-wide biases and ideologies. The result is a new understanding of the ways in which public deliberation can be extended to meet the needs of modern societies.

Problems of Indeterminacy

Under the influence of post-empiricism, philosophy of science has in recent years begun to show a healthier respect for history and actual practice. In this accessible account, James Bohman shows how this model can be applied to the social sciences, opening the way for a new synthesis that finds rigor within the necessary indeterminacy of practice.

Titles by This Editor

The Transformation of Critical Theory, Essays in Honor of Thomas McCarthy

The essays in this volume reflect on and expand Frankfurt School critical theory as reformulated after World War II by Karl-Otto Apel, Jürgen Habermas, and others. Frankfurt School critical theory since the pragmatic turn has become a richer source of critical analysis that is at the same time socially and politically more effective. The essays are dedicated to Thomas McCarthy, who has done perhaps more than any other scholar to introduce English-speaking audiences to contemporary German critical theory.

The book is organized into three parts. Part one deals with social theory and the rational basis of communication, including basic issues raised by the pragmatic turn. Part two examines conceptions of autonomy and the self. Part three deals with political theory, focusing on problems stemming from sociocultural pluralism. Together, the essays provide an overview of the latest developments in Frankfurt School critical theory as it responds to the challenges of pragmatism and social pluralism.

Essays on Reason and Politics

Ideals of democratic participation and rational self-government have long informed modern political theory. As a recent elaboration of these ideals, the concept of deliberative democracy is based on the principle that legitimate democracy issues from the public deliberation of citizens. This remarkably fruitful concept has spawned investigations along a number of lines. Areas of inquiry include the nature and value of deliberation, the feasibility and desirability of consensus on contentious issues, the implications of institutional complexity and cultural diversity for democratic decision making, and the significance of voting and majority rule in deliberative arrangements.The anthology opens with four key essays--by Jon Elster, J??rgen Habermas, Joshua Cohen, and John Rawls--that helped establish the current inquiry into deliberative models of democracy. The nine essays that follow represent the latest efforts of leading democratic theorists to tackle various problems of deliberative democracy. All the contributions address tensions that arise between reason and politics in a democracy inspired by the ideal of achieving reasoned agreement among free and equal citizens. Although the authors approach the topic of deliberation from different perspectives, they all aim to provide a theoretical basis for a more robust democratic practice.Contributors : James Bohman, Thomas Christiano, Joshua Cohen, Jon Elster, David Estlund, Gerald F. Gaus, J??rgen Habermas, James Johnson, Jack Knight, Frank I. Michelman, John Rawls, Henry S. Richardson, Iris Marion Young.

Essays on Kant's Cosmopolitan Ideal

In 1795 Immanuel Kant published an essay entitled "Toward Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch." The immediate occasion for the essay was the March 1795 signing of the Treaty of Basel by Prussia and revolutionary France, which Kant condemned as only "the suspension of hostilities, not a peace." In the essay, Kant argues that it is humankind's immediate duty to solve the problem of violence and enter into the cosmopolitan ideal of a universal community of all peoples governed by the rule of law.

The essay's two-hundredth anniversary, 1995, also marked the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II and of the establishment of the Charter of the United Nations. The essays in this volume were written for a conference held in Frankfurt in May 1995 to commemorate these three anniversaries. Together, the authors argue for the continued theoretical and practical relevance of the cosmopolitan ideals of Kant's essay. They also show that history has both confirmed and outstripped Kant's prognoses. As recent events have shown, we certainly have not emerged from the violence of the state of nature. Accelerating globalization also gives these reconstructions and reappraisals of Kant's cosmopolitan ideal a new urgency.

Contributors:
Karl-Otto Apel, Kenneth Baynes, James Bohman, Jürgen Habermas, David Held, Axel Honneth, Matthias Lutz-Bachmann, Thomas McCarthy, Martha Nussbaum.

End or Transformation?

After Philosophy provides an excellent framework for understanding the most important strains of current philosophical work in North America, England, France, and Germany. The selections from the work of fourteen contemporary philosophers not only display the multiplicity of approaches being pursued since the breakup of any consensus on what philosophy is, but also help to clarify this proliferation of views and to spell out today's basic options for doing, or not doing, philosophy today. With a general introduction delineating what is in dispute between the different parties to the end-of-philosophy debates, brief introductions to the thought of each author, and suggestions for further reading following each selection, After Philosophy is ideally suited for use in any course that includes an overview of the bewildering variety of contemporary approaches to philosophy.

The major sections and contributors are: I. The End of Philosophy. Richard Rorty Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida. II. The Transformation of Philosophy: Systematic Proposals. Donald Davidson, Michael Dummett, Hilary Putnam, Karl-Otto Apel, Jürgen Habermas. III. The Transformation of Philosophy: Hermeneutics, Narrative, Rhetoric. Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, Alasdair Maclntyre, Hans Blumenberg, Charles Taylor.

Kenneth Baynes is currently doing postgraduate research at the University of Frankfurt. James Bohman lectures in philosophy at Boston University, and Thomas McCarthy is a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University and the editor of the MIT Press series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought.