With his insightful and wide-ranging theory of recognition, Axel Honneth has decisively reshaped the Frankfurt School tradition of critical social theory. Combining insights from philosophy, sociology, psychology, history, political economy, and cultural critique, Honneth’s work proposes nothing less than an account of the moral infrastructure of human sociality and its relation to the perils and promise of contemporary social life. This book provides an accessible overview of Honneth’s main contributions across a variety of fields, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of (...) his thought. Christopher Zurn clearly explains Honneth’s multi-faceted theory of recognition and its relation to diverse topics: individual identity, morality, activist movements, progress, social pathologies, capitalism, justice, freedom, and critique. In so doing, he places Honneth’s theory in a broad intellectual context, encompassing classic social theorists such as Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Dewey, Adorno and Habermas, as well as contemporary trends in social theory and political philosophy. Treating the full range of Honneth’s corpus, including his major new work on social freedom and democratic ethical life, this book is the most up-to-date guide available. _Axel Honneth_ will be invaluable to students and scholars working across the humanities and social sciences, as well as anyone seeking a clear guide to the work of one of the most influential theorists writing today. (shrink)
Aside from the systematic theory of recognition, Honneth’s work in the last decade has also centered around a less commented-upon theme: the critical social theoretic diagnosis of social pathologies. This paper claims first that his diverse diagnoses of specific social pathologies can be productively united through the conceptual structure evinced by second-order disorders, where there are substantial disconnects, of various kinds, between first-order contents and second-order reflexive understandings of those contents. The second major claim of the paper is that once (...) we understand social pathologies as second-order disorders, it becomes apparent that critical social theory must do more than accurately identify and explicate these disorders at the phenomenological and action-theoretic levels. It must further engage in insightful sociological explanations of the social causes of those pathologies in order to further the prognostic and therapeutic tasks implied by the aim of developing a social theory with emancipatory intent. The paper argues that the identificatory and explicative components of diagnostic social theory have been fulfilled by Honneth to a much greater degree than the latter components of explanation, prognosis and therapy. (shrink)
In this book, Christopher F. Zurn shows why a normative theory of deliberative democratic constitutionalism yields the best understanding of the legitimacy of constitutional review. He further argues that this function should be institutionalized in a complex, multi-location structure including not only independent constitutional courts but also legislative and executive self-review that would enable interbranch constitutional dialogue and constitutional amendment through deliberative civic constitutional forums. Drawing on sustained critical analyses of diverse pluralist and deliberative democratic arguments concerning the legitimacy of (...) judicial review, Zurn concludes that constitutional review is necessary to ensure the procedural requirements for legitimate democratic self-rule through deliberative cooperation. Claiming that pure normative theory is not sufficient to settle issues of institutional design, Zurn draws on empirical and comparative research to propose reformed institutions of constitutional review that encourage the development of fundamental law as an ongoing project of democratic deliberation and decision. (shrink)
What does social justice require in contemporary societies? What are the requirements of social democracy? Who and where are the individuals and groups that can carry forward agendas for progressive social transformation? What are we to make of the so-called new social movements of the last thirty years? Is identity politics compatible with egalitarianism? Can cultural misrecognition and economic maldistribution be fought simultaneously? What of the heritage of Western Marxism is alive and dead? And how is current critical social theory (...) to approach these and other questions? Much of the most productive work done in recent social theory has revolved around such issues, in particular, around those concerning the relationship between the politics of recognition and the politics of distribution. After the intense theoretical focus over the last fifteen years or so on the issues of recognition politics—multiculturalism, multi-nationalism, identity politics, group-differentiated rights, the accommodation of difference, and so on—some social theorists have worried that attention has been diverted from important issues of distributive equality—systematic impoverishment, increasing material inequality, ‘structural’ unemployment, the growth of oligarchic power, global economic segmentation, and so on. While some critics seem to have adopted a blunt ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ line of criticism,1 others have attempted to develop an overarching, integrative theoretical framework adequate to the diverse issues concerning both economic and cultural justice. For example, Axel Honneth proposes that a suitably developed and normatively robust theory of intersubjective recognition can adequately integrate an analysis of apparently diverse contemporary struggles: those for a just division of labor and hence, a fair distribution of resources and opportunities, as well as those for a culture free of identity-deforming disrespect and denigration. (shrink)
This collection of essays breaks new ground by providing an unparalleled snapshot of new work in political philosophy. The book brings together up-and-coming scholars from across the globe using such diverse methodologies as critical theory and social choice theory, historical analysis and conceptual analysis. The volume demonstrates the vibrancy of contemporary political theorizing not only when treating perennial topics--democracy, equality, legitimacy, liberty, patriotism, political freedom, rationality--but also when revivifying topics briefly out of favor--human needs, ideology, judgment, political aesthetics--and tackling topics (...) more recently put on the agenda--citizenship, collective agency, cultural contexts, feminism, identity, multiculturalism, social suffering, subjectivity. (shrink)
Many have claimed that legitimate constitutional democracy is either conceptually or practically impossible, given infinite regress paradoxes deriving from the requirement of simultaneously democratic and constitutional origins for legitimate government. This paper first critically investigates prominent conceptual and practical bootstrapping objections advanced by Barnett and Michelman. It then argues that the real conceptual root of such bootstrapping objections is not any specific substantive account of legitimacy makers, such as consent or democratic endorsement, but a particular conception of the logic of (...) normative standards—the determinate threshold conception—that the critic attributes to the putatively undermined account of legitimacy. The paper further claims that when we abandon threshold conceptions of the logic of legitimacy in favor of regulative-ideal conceptions, then the objections, from bootstrapping paradoxes to the very idea of constitutional democracy, disappear. It concludes with considerations in favor of adopting a more demanding conception of the regulative ideal of constitutional democracy, advanced by Habermas, focusing on potentials for developmental learning. (shrink)
This volume collects original, cutting-edge essays on the philosophy of recognition by international scholars eminent in the field. By considering the topic of recognition as addressed by both classical and contemporary authors, the volume explores the connections between historical and contemporary recognition research and makes substantive contributions to the further development of contemporary theories of recognition.
Contemporary recognition theory has developed powerful tools for understanding a variety of social problems through the lens of misrecognition. It has, however, paid somewhat less attention to how to conceive of appropriate responses to misrecognition, usually making the tacit assumption that the proper societal response is adequate or proper affirmative recognition. In this paper I argue that, although affirmative recognition is one potential response to misrecognition, it is not the only such response. In particular, I would like to make the (...) case for derecognition in some cases: derecognition, in particular, through the systematic deinstitutionalization or uncoupling of various reinforcing components of social institutions, components whose tight combination in one social institution has led to the misrecognition in the first place. I make the case through the example of recent United States debates over marriage, especially but not only with respect to gay marriage. I argue that the proper response to the misrecognition of sexual minorities embodied in exclusively heterosexual marriage codes is not affirmative recognition of lesbian and gay marriages, but rather the systematic derecognition of legal marriage as currently understood. I also argue that the systematic misrecognition of women that occurs under the contemporary institution of marriage would likewise best be addressed through legal uncoupling of heterogeneous social components embodied in the contemporary social institution of marriage. (shrink)
Christopher F. Zurn - Perspectives on Habermas - Journal of the History of Philosophy 40:2 Journal of the History of Philosophy 40.2 274-275 Book Review Perspectives on Habermas Lewis Edwin Hahn, editor. Perspectives on Habermas. New York: Open Court, 2000. Pp. xiv + 586. Paper, $29.95. This collection of essays on the wide-ranging body of thought produced by Jürgen Habermas over the course of close to fifty years represents a significant lost opportunity. Although originally planned as a volume in the (...) Library of Living Philosophers series, in 1999 Habermas pulled out of the project because, as Hahn tells us, "of other events in his life" . Volumes in this series have typically provided unique and valuable resources: not only quality secondary essays by leading contemporary philosophers, but essay-by-essay responses by the featured philosopher, as well.. (shrink)
Theorien der "Anerkennung" zeichnen sich durch eine außergewöhnliche Leistungsstärke aus. In den letzten Jahren haben sie die Forschung auf den Gebieten der Moralphilosophie, der Politischen Philosophie und der Sozialphilosophie, aber auch auf denen der Psychologie und der Sozialwissenschaften sowohl thematisch als auch methodisch sehr stark bereichert. Viele dieser Theorien versuchen zudem, Überlegungen, die von klassischen Autoren wie Fichte oder Hegel entwickelt wurden, für die aktuelle Diskussion systematisch fruchtbar zu machen. Dieser Konstellation trägt der vorliegende Band Rechnung. Durch eine Verzahnung von (...) systematischen und philosophiegeschichtlichen Überlegungen leistet er einen wesentlichen Beitrag zur Lösung und Weiterentwicklung aktueller anerkennungstheoretischer Probleme und Fragestellungen sowie zu einer Neuinterpretation klassischer philosophischer Texte. Aufgrund seines thematischen Zuschnitts ist das Buch nicht nur für Philosophen, sondern auch für Sozialwissenschaftler von großem Interesse. Mit Beiträgen von: J. Bernstein, D. Brudney, J.-Ph. Déranty, N. Fraser, A. Honneth, H. Ikäheimo, A. Laitinen, F. Neuhouser, T. Pinkard, M. Quante, E. Renault, H.-C. Schmidt am Busch, L. Siep, A. Wildt und Ch. F. Zurn. (shrink)
In Between Facts and Norms (1992) Habermas set out a theory of law and politics that is linked both to our high normative expectations and to the realities consequent upon the practices and institutions meant to put them into effect. The article discusses Hugh Baxter’s Habermas: The Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy and the drawbacks he finds in Habermas’ theory. It focuses on raising questions about and objections to some of the author’s leading claims.
This paper develops a normative framework for both conceptualizing and assessing various institutional possibilities for democratic modes of constitutional change, with special attention to the recent ferment of constitutional experimentation. The paper’s basic methodological orientation is interdisciplinary, combining research in comparative constitutionalism, political science and normative political philosophy. In particular, it employs a form of normative reconstruction: attempting to glean out of recent institutional innovations the deep political ideals such institutions embody or attempt to realize. Starting from the assumption that (...) contemporary constitutional democracies are attempting to realize the broader ideals of deliberative democratic constitution (ideals outlined briefly in the first section), the paper proposes an evaluative framework, comprised of six criteria, for assessing various mechanisms of constitutional change. It argues that democratic forms of constitutional change embody six distinct ideals—operationalizability, structural independence, democratic co-authorship, political equality, inclusive sensitivity, and reasons-responsiveness—and that these ideals can be used to gauge the normative worth of different mechanisms for carrying out such change. The framework is developed with reference to recent constitutional developments (e.g., in Venezuela, South Africa, Columbia, Bolivia, and Iceland) highlighting distinct criteria and showing how they appear to capture the general direction of institutional innovation. The paper conjectures that the set of six criteria yield the best normative reconstruction of the crucial ideals embodied in the constitutional change mechanisms of contemporary constitutional democracies, and so, ought to be used for purposes of evaluating institutional design proposals. (shrink)
For myself it would be most irksome to be ruled by a bevy of Platonic Guardians, even if I knew how to choose them, which I assuredly do not. If they were in charge, I should miss the stimulus of living in a society where I have, at least theoretically, some part in the direction of public affairs. Of course I know how illusory would be the belief that my vote determined anything; but nevertheless when I go to the polls (...) I have a satisfaction in the sense that we are all engaged in a common venture. (shrink)
This chapter is a critical review of Amy Allen's book The Politics of Our Selves. It briefly reconstructs some of the book's impressive achievements: articulating a synthetic account of gendered subjectivity that accounts for both subjection and autonomy; imaginatively integrating poststructuralist and communicative theories; and, furthering important new interpretations of Butler, Foucault, and Habermas. It also raises critical concerns about Allen's project: her specific conception of autonomy and its justification; her suspicions of the notion of historical progress; her psychological explanation (...) of the continuing power of pernicious norms of gendered subjectivity; the usefulness of psychoanalysis for critical social theory; and, the role of cultural, structural, and materialist explanations and political strategies. (shrink)
This chapter continues the institutional design process started in the previous, turning to four different types of modification in the system of constitutional review. I consider, in turn, the establishment of self-review panels in the legislative and executive branches of national governments (A), various mechanisms for inter-branch debate and decisional dispersal concerning constitutional elaboration (B), easing constitutional amendability requirements in overly obdurate systems (C), and finally establishing civic constitutional fora as replacements of traditional amendment procedures (D). In each case the (...) proposals are motivated by the problems of judicial review I identified in the previous chapter, and their design is oriented to the fullest realization of the six assessment values I specified there. I assume throughout that some form of judicial review is extant in the political system, and for the most part I assume the concentrated system with specialized constitutional courts that I argued for there. Where something important hangs on the difference between a concentrated and diffuse system of constitutional courts for the design of these other mechanisms for constitutional elaboration, I take that up in the discussion. (shrink)
an overly long draft of an encyclopedia article forthcoming in History of Continental Thought, Volume 6: Poststructuralism and Critical Theory: The Return of Master Thinkers, ed. Alan D. Schrift (Acumen Press).
This paper argues that, according to a specific conception of the ideals of constitutional democracy - deliberative democratic constitutionalism - the proper function of constitutional review is to ensure that constitutional procedures are protected and followed in the ordinary democratic production of law, since the ultimate warrant for the legitimacy of democratic decisions can only be that they have been produced according to procedures that warrant the expectation of increased rationality and reasonability. It also contends that three desiderata for the (...) institutionalization of the function of constitutional review follow from this conception: structural independence, democratic sensitivity and the maintenance of legal integrity. Finally, evaluating three broadly different ways of institutionalizing constitutional review - solely in appellate courts, in deliberative constitutional juries of ordinary citizens and in a combined system of constitutional courts and civic constitutional amendment fora - it argues that the third arrangement would perform best at collectively fulfilling the sometimes antithetical desiderata. (shrink)
This paper argues that political civility is actually an illusionistic ideal and that, as such, realism counsels that we acknowledge both its promise and peril. Political civility is, I will argue, a tension-filled ideal. We have good normative reasons to strive for and encourage more civil political interactions, as they model our acknowledgement of others as equal citizens and facilitate high-quality democratic problem-solving. But we must simultaneously be attuned to civility’s limitations, its possible pernicious side-effects, and its potential for strategic (...) manipulation and oppressive abuse, particularly in contemporary, pluralistic and heterogeneous societies. (shrink)
This paper critically evaluates institution reconstructing critique—the central methodological strategy employed by Axel Honneth in his latest book Freedom’s Right designed to articulate and justify the normative standards employed by a critical theory of the present. It begins by considering, at a general level, the promises and limits of three ideal-typical normative methodologies of social critique: first principles critique, intuition refining critique, and institution reconstructing critique. It then turns to the details of Honneth’s history and diagnosis of market spheres of (...) society as one key example of institution reconstruction critique. This leads to a consideration of some challenges facing this kind of critique, paying particular attention to problems posed by alternative reconstructions of the same data. It argues, in particular, that there is a troubling indeterminacy in this reconstruction, since alternative teleologies yield substantively different normative analyses of capitalism, and hence substantively different social critiques. In conclusion, the paper suggests some methodological remedies which might need to be adopted in order to make good on the promise of institution reconstructing critique while avoiding some of its most challenging problems. (shrink)
Perhaps we should change our focus from constitutionalized practices of democracy to democratized practices of constitutionalism. Dworkin and Perry both seek to respond to democratic objections to judicial review by relying on a theory of the legitimacy constraints of democracy itself. According to this view, on some matters, legitimate democracy requires getting the right moral answers. Thus democratic processes must be constitutionalized to ensure such right outcomes on fundamental moral matters. To the extent that judges are better positioned to engage (...) in principled moral reasoning, the arguments continue, we ought to entrust them with ensuring the constitutionalized legitimacy conditions of democracy. I argued that this latter institutional move, however, threatened to simply revive the paternalist worries forcefully articulated by Learned Hand. Waldron’s rights-based objection to rightsbased judicial review, although not dispositive, provided further warning of the moral costs of treating fellow citizens as incapable of reasoning together about the content and proper scope of the legal rights required for democracy. An alternative strategy for justifying judicial review that this chapter investigates is to understand a constitution itself as a product of true democracy, of real popular sovereignty. It is then up to the people, exercising their constituent power at the level of a constitutional assembly, to decide what particular institutional arrangements will best carry forward their collective ideals and decisions. The specific character and structure of those arrangements—whether they are populist or elitist, deliberative or aggregative, sensitive or insulated, electorally accountable or politically independent, and so on—is then a secondary matter. What is central is that the constitutional arrangements the people decide on are, first and foremost, democratically legitimated by the fact that they are the result of authentic popular sovereignty.. (shrink)