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Ethics and Politics after Poststructuralism

Levinas, Derrida and Nancy

Madeleine Fagan

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What would political thought look like without the foundation of ethics?

This groundbreaking book offers a fresh and innovative perspective on ethics and politics after poststructuralism. Madeleine Fagan argues that the ‘ethical’ should not be understood as a label; it does not mean ‘good’ or ‘right’, and is not an evaluation or guide. Rather, both the ethical and the political are descriptions of the context in which we find ourselves. Fagan offers an account of the inseparability of ethics and politics that challenges existing accounts of poststructuralist ethics and shows the need for a practice-based rethinking of the ethico-political. Drawing on the work of Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy, Ethics and Politics after Poststructuralism puts forward a radical and far-reaching critique of both foundational and non-foundational ethical theory.

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Introduction: The Politics of Ethical Theory
1. Ethics, Politics, Limits
2. Emmanuel Levinas: Ethics as Relation
3. Jacques Derrida: The Im-possibility of Responsibility
4. Jean-Luc Nancy: The Transimmanence of Ethics
5. The Limits of Theory: Ethics, Politics, Practice
6. Conclusion: Ethics and Politics after Poststructuralism

About the Author

Madeleine Fagan is an Institute of Advanced Studies Global Research Fellow, Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. She is co-editor of Derrida: Negotiating the Legacy (Edinburgh University Press, 2007)


Ethics and Politics after Poststructuralism offers a novel way to think about why we are unable to give ourselves the answers that we nevertheless continue to look for. Fagan provides a smart discussion of key thinkers’ problematisation of ethics and politics and she has the courage of her convictions. If you’ve ever lain awake at night, wondering about your responsibility in the world and being troubled by poststructuralism, you should read this book.

- Maja Zehfuss, Professor of International Politics, University of Manchester

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