Power, justification and vindication
in Toleration, power and the right to justification
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David Owen opens his response by observing that, for Rainer Forst, the first question of justice is the question of power. In any scheme of rule, what matters is that those subject to power are able to contest and shape the relations of rule by demanding justifications. Moving on to Forst's concept of morality, Owen observes that this is rooted in a Wittgenstenian 'seeing' of other human beings as human. He agrees with Forst about this fundamental form of moral recognition, but charges Forst with making it appear that seeing another biological human being as human means seeing all other biological human beings as human. Owen also argues that, contrary to what Forst suggests, overcoming soulblindness is not a matter of being provided with additional facts or normative reasons but of 'soul-dawning', of coming to see an aspect that one could not see before. The basis of Forst's error here is his treatment of the power exerted by structures (such as patriarchy) that configure the general space of reasons. In separating this area from his broader discussion of power, Forst embraces a narrower definition in which justificatory reasons are the normative medium though which power is exercised. Owen ends his response by reflecting on Bernard Williams's distinction between justification and vindication, and whether Forst's account is capable of explaining how far political violence may be used in the pursuit of establishing the right to justification.

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