Political Judgment Beyond Paralysis and Heroism

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This paper seeks to contribute to the literature on political judgment by proposing that the faculty of judgment is essential for responsibly coping with the undeniable fact of distant suffering and the controversial duty of humanitarian intervention. To achieve this end, Mahmood Mamdani’s text ‘The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency’ will be mobilized for a constructive dialogue about which specific conception of political judgment is at stake when we debate a situation like Darfur today. The main claim is that political judgment in times of acute crisis requires the members of the public sphere to strike a precarious balance between two contradictory impulses: the deliberative impulse to enlarge the pool of particular standpoints, and the decisionist impulse to finally bring the conversation to a halt and adopt a normative stance. The theoretical framework for this balanced view of the faculty of judgment will be articulated through a hybridization of Hannah Arendt’s notion of an ‘enlarged mentality’ and Jacques Derrida’s concept of an ‘aporetic decision’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-253
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Theory
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Arendt
  • Darfur
  • decision
  • deliberation
  • Derrida
  • genocide


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