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Alessandro Ferrara in Dublin, 2013
|Born||1953 (age 66–67)|
Alessandro Ferrara (born 1953 in Trieste) is an Italian philosopher, currently Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and former President of the Italian Association for Political Philosophy.
He is also the founder and Director of the Colloquium Philosophy & Society in Rome and the Director of the Center for the Study of Religions and Political Institutions in Post-Secular Society at the University of Rome Tor Vergata.
Ferrara graduated in Philosophy in Italy (1975) and later, as a Harkness Fellow, received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley (1984). He conducted post-doctoral research in Munich and Frankfurt with Jürgen Habermas as a Von Humboldt Fellow and later at Berkeley again (1989), leading to the publication of his first book, Modernity and Authenticity.
Assistant Professor in Sociology at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" between 1984 and 1998, then Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Parma between 1998 and 2002, since 2002 Ferrara is Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Rome "Tor Vergata".
Since 1991 he has been a Director of the Yearly Conference on Philosophy and Social Science, initially held within the Interuniversity Centre of Dubrovnik, but since 1993 relocated in Prague, under the auspices of the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Science.
Since 1990 he has been a founder and a Director of the Seminario di Teoria Critica, which used to meet yearly in Gallarate and since 2008 takes place in Cortona, in Italy.
And since 2007 he is on the Executive Committee of the Istanbul Seminars on religion and politics, held at Bilgi University in Istanbul under the auspices of the Association Reset - Dialogues of Civilizations.
Ferrara serves as co-editor (with David Rasmussen) of the series Philosophy and Politics – Critical Explorations (Springer), as editorial consultant for a number of journals including Constellations, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Krisis, Balsa de la Medusa, Iris and The European Journal of Philosophy, and serves on the Advisory Board of the series New Directions in Critical Theory at Columbia University Press.
He has taught and lectured in various capacities in a number of universities and institutions, including Boston College, Harvard University, Columbia University, Rice University, Cardozo Law School, Yale University, New School for Social Research, University College London (UCL), Oxford University, the Chinese Academy of Social Science in Beijing, Sapienza University of Rome, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bilgi University and Sehir University in Istanbul, the National University of Singapore, and the Universities of California (at Berkeley), Paris - Sorbonne, Madrid, Chicago, Potsdam, Amsterdam, Mexico City, Exeter, Manchester, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, London, Exeter, Dublin, Belfast, Coimbra, Lisbon, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Berne, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Kraków, Porto Alegre, Lyon III, Tilburg.
Ferrara's work revolves around an account of normativity centered on authenticity and exemplarity, which incorporates a reconstructed version of Kant's "reflective judgment". The theory of exemplary normativity aims to represent an alternative both to proceduralist or neo-transcendental approaches to validity and to contextualist anti-normativism.
In Reflective Authenticity exemplary normativity is first outlined and in Justice and Judgment is developed in the direction of a political-philosophical notion of justice.
In Force of the Example the paradigm of exemplary normativity (and of judgment) is discussed in relation to the contemporary philosophical horizon. During the 20th century, the view that assertions and norms are valid insofar as they respond to principles independent of all local and temporal contexts came under attack from two perspectives: the partiality of translation and the intersubjective constitution of the self. Defenses of context-transcending normativity have then by and large been recast into various forms of proceduralism. In his book, instead, Ferrara tries a strategy centered on the exemplary universalism of judgment for reconciling context-transcending normativity with our pluralistic intuitions. Drawing on Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment but also on Arendt, Rawls, Dworkin and Habermas, Ferrara outlines a view of exemplary validity designed for today's dilemmas, showing how this notion – for long thought to belong in the domain of aesthetics – can be applied to central issues in political philosophy, including public reason, human rights, radical evil, sovereignty, republicanism and liberalism and religion in the public sphere.
In The Democratic Horizon. Hyperpluralism and the Renewal of Political Liberalism, Ferrara argues that Rawls's “political liberalism” – which due to its anti-perfectionist thrust, its embedded sense of the contingency of justice, its openness to plurality still constitutes the best available paradigm for understanding what a complex democratic society free of oppression could look like – needs to be updated in order to improve it traction in a historical context rapidly become different from the original one. Four adjustments – conjectural arguments, an enriched notion of the democratic ethos, a decentering of it in several local varieties, as well as the remedial model of a multivariate democratic polity – are suggested in order to enable political liberalism to meet the challenge of hyperpluralism. The aesthetic sources of normativity that have formed the object of Ferrara's earlier work—exemplarity, judgment, the normativity of identity, and the imagination—are called on to supplement the conceptual resources of a revisited political liberalism.
- Rousseau and Critical Theory, Boston-Leiden, Brill, 2017
- The Democratic Horizon. Hyperpluralism and the Renewal of Political Liberalism, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2014 (transl. into Spanish)
Symposia on the book: a. “Liberalism between Politics and Epistemology: A Discussion of Alessandro Ferrara’s The Democratic Horizon: Hyperpluralism and the Renewal of Political Liberalism”, in Political Studies, 2016, pp. 1-23, (articles by M.Ivkovic, J.Loncar, S.Prodanovic, B.Simeunovic, reply by A.Ferrara); http://journals.sagepub.com/action/doSearch?SeriesKey=pswa&AllField=ferrara& b. “Democracy in the Age of Hyperpluralism. Special Section on Alessandro Ferrara’s The Democratic Horizon: Hyperpluralism and the renewal of political liberalism”, in Philosophy and Social Criticism, 2016, Vol. 42 (7), pp. 635–706 (articles by D.Rasmussen, F.Michelman, S.Benhabib, S.K.White, W.Scheuerman, A.S.Laden, reply by A.Ferrara); http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/pscb/42/7 c. “The Prospect for Liberal-Democracy in Troubled Times. A Symposium on Alessandro Ferrara’s The Democratic Horizon”, supplementary volume of Jura Gentium. Journal of Philosophy of International Law and Global Politics (2017), Vol. XIV, n. 1, edited by L.Marchettoni, pp. 1-132 (articles by D.Owen, M.Festenstein, L.Baccelli, D.A.García, M.Solinas, L.Marchettoni, I.Testa, reply by A.Ferrara) http://www.juragentium.org/Centro_Jura_Gentium/la_Rivista_files/JG_2017_1.pdf d. “Le sfide della democrazia e il liberalismo politico”, Comments on A.Ferrara, The Democratic Horizon, in Notizie di Politeia, XXXIII, 126, 2017, pp. 165-183 (articles by E.Biale, V.Ottonelli, M.Santambrogio, reply by A.Ferrara.
- The Force of the Example. Explorations in the Paradigm of Judgment, New York, Columbia University Press, 2008 (transl. into Italian and Spanish)
Symposia on the book: a. “Review Symposium on The Force of the Example” in Political Studies, 2009, pp. 1-16 (articles by D.Castiglione, J.Richardson, A.Schaap, C.Wagner, reply by A.Ferrara). b. “Validità esemplare, estetica e politica. Discutendo La forza dell'esempio di A.Ferrara” numero monografico di Jura Gentium. Journal of Philosophy of International Law and Global Politics, edited by L.Marchettoni (articles by L.Baccelli, C.Bottici, L.Cortella, F.Crespi, E.Galeotti, T.Griffero, L.Marchettoni, M.Rosati, D.Santoro, reply by A.Ferrara)
- Justice and Judgment. The Rise and the Prospect of the Judgment Model in Contemporary Political Philosophy, London, Sage, 1999 (transl. into Italian)
- Reflective Authenticity. Rethinking the Project of Modernity, London and New York, Routledge, 1998 (transl. into Italian and Spanish)
Symposium on the book: a. “Symposium on Reflective Authenticity” in Philosophy and Social Criticism, 2004, 30, 1, pp. 5-24 (articles by Ch.Larmore, A.Honneth, reply by A.Ferrara).
- Modernity and Authenticity. A Study of the Social and Ethical Thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1993 (transl. into Italian)
- with D.Rasmussen e V.Kaul, The Populist Upsurge and the Decline of Diversity Capital, special issue of Philosophy and Social Criticism, 2018, Vol. 44, 4
- A.Ferrara (ed.), Prague: 25 Years of Critical Theory, special issue of Philosophy and Social Criticism, 2017, Vol. 43, 3, pp. 235-372.
- with D.Rasmussen and V.Kaul, Religion, Rights and the Public Sphere, special issue of Philosophy and Social Criticism, 2017, Vol. 43, 4-5
- with D.Rasmussen and V.Kaul, Politics Beyond Borders. The Republican Model Challenged by the Internationalization of Economy, Law and Communication, special issue of Philosophy and Social Criticism, 2016, Vol. 42, 4-5.
Recent articles and book chapters
- “Debating exemplarity: The 'communis' in sensus communis“, in a special section with Lois McNay on "Exemplarity and Normativity: A Debate“, Philosophy and Social Criticism, 2019, Vol. 45,2, pp.146-158.
- “Deconstructing the deconstruction of the law: Reflections on Menke's «Law and violence»”, in D.Owen (ed.), Law and Violence. Christoph Menke in Dialogue, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2018, pp. 112-136.
- “Can political liberalism help us rescue «the people» from populism?“, in Philosophy and Social Criticism, 2018, Vol. 44,4, pp.463-477.
- “Exemplarity in the public realm”, in Law & Literature, 2017, pp. 1-13
- “Expanding the framework of political liberalism”, in D.Dankowski and A.Krzynowek-Arndt (eds.), After Rawls, Krakow, Akademia Ignatium/Wam, 2016, pp. 125-46.
- “Constitution and context: Reflections on Bruce Ackerman's The Civil Rights Revolution”, Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies, 2016, pp. 1-12.
- How to Rescue 'The People' from Populism, Public Seminar, New School for Social Research, New York
- Key-note Lecture on "Political Liberalism, Revisited: The Upsurge of Populism and How to Cope", Oxford, 2.6.2017
- Symposium on The Democratic Horizon in Jura Gentium. Journal of Philosophy of International Law and Global Politics (2017)
- Symposium on The Democratic Horizon in Philosophy and Social Criticism (2016)
- Symposium on The Democratic Horizon in Political Studies (2016)
- Symposium on The Force of the Example in Jura Gentium. Journal of Philosophy of International Law and Global Politics (2009)
- Symposium on The Force of the Example in Political Studies (2010)
- Keynote lecture at University of Bern on "Rehabilitating Authenticity: why Agency, Self-Identity and Community Presuppose Purposive Unity", March 2014
- Entrevista para Herder Editorial sobre "El horizonte democratico", Barcelona, June 2014
- Keynote lecture at the Universidade Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, on "Democracy in Transformation and the Promise of an Expanded Political Liberalism", November 2014
- Lecture at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory on "Democracy Today and the Renewal of Political Liberalism", Belgrade, December 2014