Volume 64, Issue 3, Summer 2020
Special Topic: Vulnerability
Good Enough Justice?
Stanley Cavell and Walter Benjamin on the Moral Demands of Justice
This essay contends that Stanley Cavell’s criterion of “good enough justice,” which designates the minimal condition of social justice necessary for his perfectionist understanding of ethical selfhood, constitutes an avoidance—rather than an acknowledgment—of the problem of injustice. Taking Cavell’s misreading of Walter Benjamin as exemplary of this tendency, the essay shows how Cavell’s moral perfectionism consistently converts questions about the suffering of others into a problem of the self and its conscience, thereby avoiding the ethical claim at the heart of Benjamin’s project.