Real Interests and Incoherent Desires

Journal of Speculative Philosophy 36 (1):51-68 (2022)
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ABSTRACT The fact of pluralism has set a number of practical and theoretical problems for political theorists. One of the most serious difficulties is the question of the criteria for judgment. What critical standards are available when encountering a society's practices that are different from one's own? One strategy for dealing with this is to separate out questions of ethics from questions of morality. We argue that this is a particularly unfruitful conceptual strategy. Rather our position is that the concept of real interests is already operant within the practices of judgment that constitute a community, or a form of life. Our strategy is to first explore the possibility of immanent normative critique of interests expressed in forms of life using Wittgenstein and Dewey in light of Rahel Jaeggi's Critique of Forms of Life. Properly understanding how these standards of immanent critique work dissolves the problem of how to apply these to external contexts. While Jaeggi's is an excellent contribution to the discourse on critique and justification, we find that there are commitments in her idea of “immanent critique” that require reformulation with respect to the question of real interests.



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Brendan Hogan
New York University
Lawrence Marcelle
New York University

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