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Principled Positions is a collection of essays that takes us back to the question of value, which has often been either dismissed entirely or disdainfully derided by postmodern theorists. It aims to retain the insights of postmodernism while recovering modernism's sense of value. Postmodernism has often been celebrated as liberating, even democratising, in its refusal to acknowledge the dictates of hierarchy and certainty. In cultural terms this has allowed outmoded canons of taste and conservative categories of high and low culture to be challenged, and ultimately to be abolished; but it has also banished the vocabulary of evaluation, distinction and merit. In the postmodern cultural continuum, there is no such thing as good (or bad) art or politics. The deconstruction of all principled positions creates a value vacuum which, in turn, leads to a state of ethical and political standstill. This collection of essays tries to build a bridge between modernist absolutes of truth and justice, and the anti-totalizing spirit of postmodernism. Kate Soper's essay on subjectivity and the question of value is a jewel; Chantal Mouffe's essay on pluralism and citizenship invigorating; and Iris Marion Young's critique of the logic of group in political conflict is one to be treasured. The contributions are of a stellar cast and their critical appraisals are commensurate with their reputation. Excellent.
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