Rainer Forst

The Right to Justification - Elements of a Constructivist Theory of Justice

(German title: Das Recht auf Rechtfertigung)
ca. 413 pages
Rainer Forst
Foto: Rainer Forst
© Suhrkamp Verlag

Rainer Forst is professor for Political Theory and Philosophy at the Goethe University in Frankfurt/Main.

Rainer Forst has developed a theory of radical justice, human rights and democracy as well as of power and criticism itself.

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English world rights (Columbia UP), Chinese simplex rights (Chongqing Publishing)


Contemporary philosophical pluralism recognizes the inevitability and legitimacy of multiple ethical perspectives and values, making it difficult to isolate the higher-order principles on which to base a theory of justice.

Rising up to meet this challenge, Rainer Forst, a leading member of the Frankfurt School’s newest generation of philosophers, conceives of an »autonomous« construction of justice founded on what he calls the basic moral right to justification.

Forst begins by identifying this right from the perspective of moral philosophy. Then, through an innovative, detailed critical analysis, he ties together the central components of social and political justice – freedom, democracy, equality, and toleration – and joins them to the right to justification. The resulting theory treats »justificatory power« as the central question of justice, and by adopting this approach, Forst argues, we can discursively work out, or »construct,« principles of justice, especially with respect to transnational justice and human rights issues.

As he builds his theory, Forst engages with the work of Anglo-American philosophers such as John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, and Amartya Sen, and critical theorists such as Jürgen Habermas, Nancy Fraser, and Axel Honneth. Straddling multiple subjects, from politics and law to social protest and philosophical conceptions of practical reason, Forst brilliantly gathers contesting claims around a single, elastic theory of justice. (book description from the English edition by Columbia University Press)

Other publications

Normativität und Macht/Normativity and Power (2015)

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English world rights (Oxford UP)

Kritik der Rechtfertigungsverhältnisse/Justification and Critique (2011)

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English world rights (Polity), Spanish world rights (Katz), Brazilian Portuguese rights (UNESP), Arabic world rights (Librairie Orientale), Italy (Trauben)

Toleranz im Konflikt/Tolerance in Conflict (2003)

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English world rights (Cambridge UP), Spanish world rights (Paidos), Chinese simplex rights (Chongqing Publishing)

Kontexte der Gerechtigkeit/Contexts of Justice (1996)

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English world rights (California UP), Chinese simplex rights (Chongqing Publishing), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Boitempo)