Leibniz Lecture: Two Pictures of Justice



Thursday, October 17, 2013, 18:00 - 20:00



Munk School of Global Affairs
Campbell Conference Facility
Trinity College Site: 1 Devonshire Place
Toronto, Ontario


Opening remarks:
Walter Stechel, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany to Canada
Robert C. Austin, CERES, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
Eva-Maria Streier, Director, New York Office, German Research Foundation (DFG)

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is proud to present the first Leibniz Lecture in
Toronto. Professor Rainer Forst, Leibniz Prize winner of 2012, will be addressing the
subject of “Two Pictures of Justice”. The event takes place in cooperation with the
University of Toronto.

A brief abstract of the lecture:
“There are two ways to think about justice: One focuses on goods to be distributed to
persons based on the situation these recipients are in, the other focuses on past and
present relations between persons and possible structures of domination. Both try to
overcome the arbitrariness that may inhere in political and social life, but they have very
different interpretations of it. The lecture argues for a relational view of justice as based
on a principle of the proper justification of social norms – in short, for a discourse theory
of justice.”

Nationally and internationally, Rainer Forst is considered the most important German
political philosopher of his generation. As the Frankfurt-based scholar continues the German
— and especially Frankfurtian — political philosophy of Jürgen Habermas and Axel
Honneth, and engages it critically with American representatives like John Rawls, he shapes
his very own philosophy. It revolves mainly around the basic concepts of justice, tolerance
and justification. In a highly original fashion, Forst has contemplated and formulated the
insight that humans have always been embedded in various “practices of justification.”
These require that ultimately all actions must be legitimized according to particular logics of
morality, law and other discourses. Our practical reasoning is the ability to recognize and
accept these logics — such is Forst’s far-reaching conclusion as a political philosopher.