Normativity and Power

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Normativity and Power
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Rainer Forst

Normativity and Power

first published in German (2015)

Normativity and Power

First published in German: Normativität und Macht. Zur Analyse sozialer Rechtfertigungsordnungen, Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2015.

Translation by Ciaran Cronin


Humans are justificatory beingsthey offer, demand, and require justifications. The rules and institutions they follow rest on justification narratives that have evolved over time and, taken together, constitute a dynamic and tension-laden normative order.

In this collection of essays, the first translation into English of the ground-breaking Normativität und Macht (Suhrkamp 2015), Rainer Forst presents a new approach to critical theory. Each essay reflects on the basic principles that guide our normative thinking. Forst's argument goes beyond 'ideal' and 'realist' theories and shows how closely the concepts of normativity and power are interrelated, and how power rests on the capacity to influence, determine, and possibly restrict the space of justifications for others. By combining insights from the disciplines of philosophy, history, and the social sciences, Forst re-evaluates theories of justice, as well as of power, and provides the tools for a critical theory of relations of justification.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Orders of Justification. On the Relationship between Philosophy, Social Theory, and Criticism
I Reason, Normativity, and Power
1: Critique of Justifying Reason: Explaining Practical Normativity
2: Noumenal Power
II Justification Narratives and Historical Progress
3: On the Concept of a Justification Narrative
4: The Concept of Progress
III Religion, Toleration, and Law
5: Religion and Toleration from the Enlightenment to the Post-Secular Era: Bayle, Kant, and Habermas
6: One Court and Many Cultures: Jurisprudence in Conflict
IV Justice, Democracy, and Legitimacy
7: Justice after Marx
8: Legitimacy, Democracy, and Justice: On the Reflexivity of Normative Orders
V Transnational Justice
9: Realisms in International Political Theory
10: Transnational Justice and Non-Domination: A Discourse-Theoretical Approach