Disrespect and political resistance: Honneth and the theory of recognition

Thesis Eleven 114 (1):48-60 (2013)
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Abstract

This article examines the critical potential of Honneth’s theory or ethics of recognition by raising two concerns as regards the success of such a project. Firstly, this article argues that Honneth’s ethical turn in critical theory might not be completely warranted and that there are good reasons to supplement his theory of recognition with an account of justificatory practices. Secondly, it argues that the complexity of the beginnings of political resistance proves that an explanative gap remains to be filled to account for the way in which personal experience of disrespect can be transformed into a collective struggle for recognition. By way of conclusion, this article posits that instead of rejecting the critical potential of Honneth’s theory, the concerns raised therein are invitations to specify his theory further, so that contemporary struggles for recognition can be understood more profoundly.

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