A Theory of Communication and Justice
This book outlines a theory of communication and justice for the digital age, updating classic positions in political philosophy and ethics, and engaging thinkers from Aristotle through Immanuel Kant and the American pragmatists to John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas, and Amartya Sen.
In communication seeking to define justice and call out injustice, there is such a thing as the last word. The chapters in this book trace the historical emergence of communication as a human right; specify the technological resources and institutional frameworks necessary for exercising that right; and address some of the challenges following from digitalization that currently confront citizens, national regulators, and international agencies. Among the issues covered are public access to information archives past and present; local and global networks of communication as sources of personal identities and imagined communities; the ongoing reconfiguration of the press as a fourth branch of governance; and privacy as a precondition for individuals and collectives to live their lives according to plans, and to make their own histories.
The book will be of interest to students and researchers in media and communication studies, cultural studies, political philosophy and ethics, and interdisciplinary fields examining the ethical and political implications of new information and communication infrastructures.
1 The end of communication
What is, what ought to be, and what could be
Turns of philosophy
Theories of communication
Justice – an essentially contested concept
Communication as action
The chapters of the volume
2 A brief history of justice
Between chance and necessity
The prehistory of justice
Three traditions of justice
Do good – virtue ethics
Do the right thing – deontology
Do the math – consequentialism
The global futures of justice
Migration as communication
Communication as migration
Does the world still need a theory of justice?
3 The structural transformation of Jürgen Habermas
From the coffeehouse to the internet
The rise and fall of the bourgeois public sphere
From the categorical imperative to communicative action
"A third, somewhat less demanding way"
How to do things with other people’s words
Laws of communication
The power of communication
Speaking of ideals
Communicative action in the public sphere
4 John Rawls behind the veil of communication
Habermas v. Rawls
Justice as fairness
Principles and consequences
Procedures and communications
An overlapping consensus
The rational and the reasonable
The public uses of reason
The laws of the lands
The veil of communication
5 The long legacy of pragmatism
Erro, ergo sum
Theoretical, practical, and productive sciences
The modern inversion of theory and practice
The American revival of pragmatism
The pragmatic maxim
Communication as representation and resource
Individual beliefs and collective actions
Priests, prophets, and heirs of pragmatism
Pragmatism, communication, and justice
6 Media of justice
The in-formation of justice
Saying, writing, and printing it
Media of discovery, justification, application, and dissemination
One-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many communications
Information flows, user flows, and context flows
Positive and negative freedoms
Branches of governance
The mediation of agency and structure
7 The communicative position
The right to communicate
The capability of communication
Principles of communication and justice
Justice as representativity
Rights of information
Rights of communication
Rights of participation
Rights of privacy
Communication as condition and constituent of justice
8 Justice – measure for measure
Measures and meanings
The reality of justice
The empirical, the actual, and the real
Institutional, technological, and discursive mechanisms
The empirical goods of justice
9 The future of justice
What is, what has been, and what will be
Justice in time
Agricultural, industrial, and informational goods
The silk roads
Capital and ideology
A timely and scholarly work that focuses attention on the imperative to deepen the normative turn in communication studies and the communicative turn in philosophy, with focus on the articulation and practice of the contested concept of justice. Drawing on a diverse range of philosophical traditions and thinkers through a communications lens, Jensen succeeds in bringing together philosophy and communications research to propose a seminal theory of justice that speaks to our contemporary global dilemmas.
Anjali Monteiro, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
In a world seemingly dominated by polarization and disinformation, Klaus Bruhn Jensen’s impressive mastery of both classic philosophy and modern communication science gives his readers a new perspective on how human communication and social justice are fundamentally intertwined.
W. Russell Neuman, New York University
How can communication research and theory advance the cause of justice in the world? Klaus Bruhn Jensen’s theory of communication and justice illuminates many possibilities in the spaces between what is, what ought to be, and what could be.
Robert T. Craig, University of Colorado Boulder
Grounded in a compelling narrative arc from Charles Sanders Peirce to John Rawls, Klaus Bruhn Jensen provides us with a fresh pragmatist philosophy that recognizes communication and its accompanying goods not only as human rights but as engines of civilizational growth.
John Durham Peters, Yale University
In an era marked by disturbing shifts towards populism, nativism, identity politics and cancel culture, justice must be done and seen to be done. Communication on and of justice are therefore key. Drawing deeply on philosophical theories and the core foundations of the discipline of communication, Klaus Bruhn Jensen provides us with a reflective and provocative exposition of how justice and communication are deeply intertwined.
Sun Sun Lim, Singapore University of Technology and Design
Klaus Bruhn Jensen presents a timely deliberation on communication and justice that links philosophy and communication studies to explore theories and practices pertaining to this crucially important matter. Drawing on ethics and pragmatist inquiry, Jensen considers communication as action and suggests a communicative turn that may help us to better understand various forms of justice, including essential environmental concerns. This insightful book should to be taken very seriously by academics, policy-makers and the public.
Janet Wasko, University of Oregon
Jensen offers us a normative theory of communication informed by an historically informed analysis of philosophy and communication theory. His goal is to understand how human communication can better contribute to fairness and justice. Treating communication both as a condition of being and becoming and as deliberative action, its potentials and limitations are critically weighed to assess how communication might make a practical difference. An inspiring and provocative foundation is provided for assessing entitlements to reflection and deliberation in a way that also will spark novel empirical research agendas.
Robin Mansell, London School of Economics and Political Science
In this timely volume Klaus Bruhn Jensen proposes nothing less than a theory of communication and justice. The volume travels through the history of ideas to explore the meeting points and different avenues of communication research and classic philosophy, as they relate to justice. In a theory-rich, yet practice-oriented, manner, Klaus Bruhn Jensen convincingly argues that the study of communication can and should engage with debates about justice.
Rikke Frank Jørgensen, The Danish Institute for Human Rights