Justice and Bhaskar's Dialectical Universalizability

Lisa Rogers EQDOMAIN.EQWQ.LROGERS at email.state.ut.us
Fri Apr 7 09:44:38 MDT 1995

Justin, I think your argument is starting to make some sense to me.
Lisa Rogers

>>> Justin Schwartz <jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us>  4/6/95,
09:56pm >>>

The problem with finding general (universal, binding for all?)
criteria on the basis of which to endorse emancipation is that if
your argument for emancipation demands universal assent, this is not
to be found in a sociery divided into dominant and subordinat groups.
And if you accept that emancipation is only to be endorsed from the
perspective of subordinate groups, you have relativism. From the
perspecxtive of dominant groups emancipation is to be condemned. Why
choose the suvordinate groups' perspective? I think that the argument
you attribute to Bhaskar is stuck with relativism.

Now my appeal to stability is supposed to help here. I do not say
that emancipation is good because it is stable, as if stability were
a good in itself. Rather I say that stability is _evidence_ that a
conception of justice embodies a genuine reconciliation of
interests,a nd instability is evidence that it does not. That justice
requires such a reconciliation of interests I take to be common
ground between dominant and subordinate groups. It is, in my view,
constitutive of justice. So my case for emancipation is not that it
is stable (merely) but that it is just, and its stability shows this.
Domination is to be condemned because it is unjust and its
instability, due to the resistance it causes, shows this.
Since both sides are committed to their preferred regime being just,
the instability of domination and the stability of emancipation gives
everyone a reason to prefer emancipation. Of course dominant groups
won't agree, but they don;t have to. The instability of domination
due to the harm it causes refutes their denial. That's the idea.
What's conservative about this I cannot see.


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