Panel I – Conceptions of Crisis

Crisis: Interdisciplinary Perspectives - 9th International Annual Conference

Thursday, November 23rd 2017, 2.30 pm - 4.30 pm

The term “crisis” is currently the most pervasive term used to describe the state of national as well as international normative orders. But what exactly does it mean to use this term? When does talk of a crisis arise, when can a normative order be said to be in crisis, and what forms of crisis are there? Can a focus on the normative dimension shed new light on social crises? These are the questions this panel seeks to address. Brian Milstein provides a diagnosis of our current situation in which the “legitimation crisis” of a faltering hegemony turns into a “justification crisis” as a result of societies lacking the normative and political resources to replace the old order. Albena Azmanova analyses the condition she proposes to call a “crisis of crisis” to further illuminate the cognitive and evaluative dimensions of what characterizes a state of normative “stuckness.” Rainer Forst and Klaus Günther present a conceptual typology of crisis, including two forms of normative crisis—i.e., justification crises of a first and a second order—and they explore how such forms of crisis appear and play out in the legal realm.


Chair: Rebecca Schmidt (Managing Director of the Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”, Goethe University)

CV
Rebecca Caroline Schmidt studied law focusing on criminal law, criminal procedural law and sentencing law at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main. Between 2007 and 2012, she worked as a research associate with Professor Dr. Klaus Günther in the fields of legal theory, criminal law and criminal procedural law as well as from 2010 until 2012 as a research associate and research coordinator with Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Andreas von Hirsch focusing on the theory and ethics of criminal law. She gained legal experience as an intern with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and management experience as coordinator of several research projects at Goethe University. Since November 1st 2012, she has been Managing Director of the Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”. While being responsible for the “Frankfurter Stadtgespräche”, she initiated and coordinated during the second funding period a series of further public outreach formats with various cooperation partners – among them exhibitions and/or framework programmes as for example the scientific-artistic project “Sense of Doubt. Resisting Oblivion” – in order to enhance the dialogue between research topics at the Cluster and society. (Klaus Günther, Rainer Forst, Rebecca Caroline Schmidt (Hg): Eine Publikation zum Ausstellungsprojekt Sense of Doubt. Wider das Vergessen. Mit der Videokunstausstellung memórias inapagáveis. Berlin: Revolver Publishing 2015.)

 

Lecture 1
Dr. Brian Milstein (Goethe University)

What Does a Legitimation Crisis Mean Today?

Abstract
The 2016 Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump came as a shock, not only to the world at large but to the citizenries of the UK and US. While some anticipated that the political aftermath of the 2007/8 financial crisis might boil over into some kind of “legitimation crisis,” these events represented something quite specific. I argue we can speak of a justification crisis as a pathological iteration of a legitimation crisis: it occurs when an order of political hegemony begins to falter, but society cannot marshal the resources necessary to replace it. If the political public sphere is found corrupted or otherwise unable to facilitate deliberative processes of opinion and will-formation, and yet the mechanisms of aggregative democracy remain in place, discontented citizens are left to vote on the basis of snap judgments and prejudices untested by criteria of reciprocal and general justification. This scenario can render the political system prone to erratic decision-making, which appear democratic in form, yet which remain unrecognizable as theproduct of a general democratic will. Present-day  tendencies toward justification crisis  are not so much failures of democracy as “failures of failures of democracy.” Nevertheless, if left unaccounted for, they risk a more general loss of faith in democratic institutions.

CV
Brian Milstein is a research associate and lecturer at the Chair of International Political Theory, Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”, Goethe University Frankfurt, where he works on questions related to crisis theory and the concept of crisis in social and political  thought. He studied politics at the New School for Social Research, where he received the Hannah Arendt Memorial Award in Politics for his dissertation work on Kant, Habermas, and the pathologies of the modern international state system. Milstein previously held postdoctoral  fellowships at the Collège d‘études mondiales in Paris and the Freie Universität Berlin, and his work has appeared in the European Journal of Philosophy, European Journal of Political Theory, and Philosophy & Social Criticism. He is author of Commercium: Critical Theory from a Cosmopolitan Point of View (Rowman & Littlefield International 2015), and he recently finished editing a volume of dialogues between Nancy Fraser and Rahel Jaeggi, Capitalism: A Conversation in Critical Theory (Polity Press, forthcoming).

 

Lecture 2
Prof. Dr. Albena Azmanova (Brussels School of International Studies, Kent University)

Crisis of Crisis: On Normative and Institutional Stuckness

Abstract
In the aftermath of the 2007-2009 economic meltdown, a discourse about a profound social crisis, including a terminal crisis of capitalism, emerged from both ends of the left-right political divide. A decade later, the fears from, and hopes for, a transformative crisis have given way to calls for building resilience. This discursive shift from crisis to resilience is symptomatic of a situation I name ‘crisis of crisis’ – coping with crisis without addressing its structural roots. Efforts to cope with the crisis have entailed (1) the  institutionalisation of the situation of crisis into a new status quo; (2) the normalisation of perceptions of crisis into a new common-sense; (3) the valorisation of crisis-generated experiences of injustice into normative assets. I will adumbrate the cognitive and evaluative dimensions of  normativity particular to the crisis-of-crisis state, with attention to the way emancipatory critique and criticism are being disabled, and will shed some light on the mechanisms of institutionalisation that block emancipatory political mobilisations.

CV
Albena Azmanova is Associate Professor of Political Theory at the University of Kent, where she teaches courses in democratic theory and political economy. Her writing is dedicated to bringing the critique of political economy (back) into critical social theory. Her research ranges from theories of judgment and justice to the dynamics of contemporary capitalism and its effect on ideological orientation and electoral mobilisation. Among her recent publications are The Scandal of Reason: A Critical Theory of Political Judgment (Columbia University Press 2012), Reclaiming Democracy: Judgment, Responsibility and the Right to Politics, ed. with Mihaela Mihai (Routhledge 2015); The Right to Politics, Philosophy and Social Criticism 42 (2016), and Empowerment as Surrender: how women lost the battle for emancipation as they won equality and inclusion, in Social Research 83/3 (Fall 2016). She is currently working on a book manuscript titled The Crisis of ‘the Crisis of Capitalism’ tracing the mutation of neoliberal capitalism into a novel modality of capitalism.

 

Lecture 3
Prof. Dr. Rainer Forst and Prof. Dr. Klaus Günther (Directors of the Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”, Goethe University)

Normative Crisis: Conceptual and Diagnostic Remarks

Abstract
In these remarks, we show how the methodology developed in the Cluster allows us to analyse crises of normative orders in a productive and innovative way. Following Schleiermacher, we define crisis as the “time that is the boundary between two different orders of things”—that is, a time in which an old order is no longer seen as a possible or valid option and yet no new order lies in sight. Above all, we are interested in a particular category of such crises, which we call “normative crises.” These arise when a given order is normatively questioned and rejected, but the standards for conceiving of a new order remain heavily contested. In our view, this is more than a legitimation crisis; rather, it is a justification crisis. Here we distinguish two forms of it: first-order justification crises occur when there is deep disagreement about the language of justification to speak and find solutions in; second-order justification crises occur when the very framework of the justification community is questioned, such as in matters of transnational character that can no longer be resolved within the framework of national orders. In such crises, the normative order itself is questioned—its boundaries and its very nature. We will demonstrate these notions of crisis by putting them to use in the legal field. A legal order is often the most contested normative order in a situation of crisis. It begins with small violations or bypassing of valid norms without any legal consequences and ends with a blatant or clandestine suspension of a whole legal regime—as can be seen, for example, in the handling of the recent Euro and refugee crises. That there is a state of exception requiring new measures is one of the common justifications. We shall read these phenomena as indications of a justification crisis.

CV Rainer Forst
Rainer Forst is Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at the Goethe University Frankfurt. He is Co-Director of both the Research Cluster ”The Formation of Normative Orders” and the Centre for Advanced Studies “Justitia Amplificata” and is a member of the Directorate of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in Bad Homburg. He has previously taught at the Free University Berlin, the New School for Social Research in New York and Dartmouth College. His work in moral and political philosophy focuses on questions of practical reason, justice and toleration; his major publications are Contexts of Justice (Suhrkamp 1994, Univ. of California Press 2002), Toleration in Conflict (Suhrkamp 2003, Cambridge UP 2013), The Right to Justification (Suhrkamp 2007, Columbia UP 2012), Justification and Critique (Suhrkamp 2011, Polity Press 2013), The Power of Tolerance (with W. Brown, Columbia UP 2014), Justice, Democracy and the Right to Justification (with Replies by Critics; Bloomsbury 2014) and Normativity and Power (Suhrkamp 2015, Oxford UP 2017). In 2012 he received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Price of the German Research Foundation. He is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, Associate Editor of Ethics, a member of the Executive Editorial Committee of Political Theory and serves on the boards of numerous other international journals. He is co-editor of the book series “Theorie und Gesellschaft” and “Normative Orders” (Campus).

 
CV Klaus Günther

Klaus Günther born in 1957, is Professor of Legal Theory, Criminal Law and Law of Criminal Procedure in the Faculty of Law at the Goethe University Frankfurt. Since 2007 he has been Co-Director of the Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”. He is a member of the board of directors of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt and Permanent Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities of the Goethe University in Bad Homburg. Klaus Günther studied philosophy and law in Frankfurt. From 1983 to 1996 he was a research assistant and university assistant in Frankfurt in, inter alia, a DFG-funded legal theory working group (Leibniz-Programme) with Jürgen Habermas, where he received his doctorate in 1987. His habilitation in 1997 was followed by appointments to professorships at the EUI Florence and at the universities of Rostock and Zurich, which he declined. Guest professor at SUNY at Buffalo (2000), Corpus Christi College Oxford (2001), École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (2003), London School of Economics (2003) and Sciences Po (2016). His most important publications include: Der Sinn für Angemessenheit (1988; English translation: The Sense of Appropriateness, 1993; Portuguese translation 2004) and Schuld und kommunikative Freiheit (2005). He is co-editor of the book series “Normative Orders“ (Campus).

 

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Campus Westend
Max-Horkheimer-Str. 2
Gebäude "Normative Ordnungen", EG 01 und EG 02

 

Video:

Audio:

 

Bildergalerie:

  • Prof. Dr. Rainer Forst, Co-Sprecher des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen" und Professor für Politische Theorie und Philosophie der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
  • Prof. Dr. Rainer Forst, Co-Sprecher des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen" und Professor für Politische Theorie und Philosophie der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
  • Rebecca Caroline Schmidt, Geschäftsführerin des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen"
  • Dr. Brian Milstein, Goethe University
  • Prof. Dr. Albena Azmanova, Brussels School of International Studies, Kent University
  • Prof. Dr. Klaus Günther, Co-Sprecher des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen" und Professor für Rechtstheorie, Strafrecht und Strafprozessrecht der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
  • Prof. Dr. Darrel Moellendorf, Principal Investigator des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen" und Professor für Internationale Politische Theorie und Philosophie
  • Prof. Dr. Klaus Günther, Co-Sprecher des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen" und Professor für Rechtstheorie, Strafrecht und Strafprozessrecht der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
  • Prof. Dr. Klaus Günther, Co-Sprecher des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen" und Professor für Rechtstheorie, Strafrecht und Strafprozessrecht der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Prof. Dr. Rainer Forst, Co-Sprecher des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen" und Professor für Politische Theorie und Philosophie der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main und Rebecca Caroline Schmidt, Geschäftsführerin des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen"

 

Presented by:
Cluster of Excellence "The Formation of Normative Orders"


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