This article considers the question ‘What makes hope rational?’ We take Adrienne Martin’s recent incorporation analysis of hope as representative of a tradition that views the rationality of hope as a matter of instrumental reasons. Against this tradition, we argue that an important subset of hope, ‘fundamental hope’, is not governed by instrumental rationality. Rather, people have reason to endorse or reject such hope in virtue of the contribution of the relevant attitudes to the integrity of their practical identity, which (...) makes the relevant hope not instrumentally but intrinsically valuable. This argument also allows for a new analysis of the reasons people have to abandon hope and for a better understanding of non-fundamental, ‘prosaic’ hopes. (shrink)
This book discusses the concept of immanent critique, i. e. whether there is a form of critique which neither just applies empirically accepted standards nor independently justified norms but rather reconstructs norms which are immanent to social practices. -/- It surveys both political theories of criticism (Walzer, Taylor, MacIntyre) and contemporary critical theories (Habermas, Honneth) for how they describe such forms of critique and develops a new model of immanent critique. For this purpose, it takes up both contemporary social ontology (...) theories and the discussion about rule-following. The book argues that we can speak of immanent rules as far as persons can practically recognize each other as members of rule-governed practices if they attribute each other defeasible normative authority. -/- Finally, it describes the consequences of the adoption of such a model for our description of a practice of critique and analyzes both first-order immanent critique and the second-order critique of reification. (shrink)
Recent disclosures suggest that many governments apply indiscriminate mass surveillance technologies that allow them to capture and store a massive amount of communications data belonging to citizens and non-citizens alike. This article argues that traditional liberal critiques of government surveillance that center on an individual right to privacy cannot completely capture the harm that is caused by such surveillance because they ignore its distinctive political dimension. As a complement to standard liberal approaches to privacy, the article develops a critique of (...) surveillance that focuses on the question of political power in the public sphere. (shrink)
When we criticize social institutions and practices, what kinds of reasons can we offer for such criticism? Political philosophers often assume that we must rely on universal moral principles that are not necessarily connected to the particular social practices of our communities. Traditionally,continental critical theory has rejected this claim through its endorsement of the method of immanent critique. Immanent critique is a critique of social practices that draws on norms already present within these practices to demand social change, rather than (...) merely conservatively reproducing them. This book defends the claim that such a critique is not only possible, but also has politically powerful potential. Taking up recent developments in analytic collective intentionality theory and in the philosophy of language, the book argues that all social practices rest on structures of mutual recognition between persons that allow social theorists to reconstruct hidden norms present within these practices. Starting from a comprehensive critique of contemporary critical theory, the book also spells out the consequences of this line of thought for the practice of social critique, for the social sciences and for political philosophy. (shrink)
According to Jürgen Habermas, his Theory of Communicative Action offers a new account of the normative foundations of critical theory. Habermas’ motivating insight is that neither a transcendental nor a metaphysical solution to the problem of normativity, nor a merely hermeneutic reconstruction of historically given norms, is sufficient to clarify the normative foundations of critical theory. In response to this insight, Habermas develops a novel account of normativity, which locates the normative demands of critical theory within the socially instituted practice (...) of communicative understanding. Although Habermas has claimed otherwise, this new foundation for critical theory constitutes a novel and innovative form of “immanent critique.” To argue for and to clarify this claim, I offer, in section 1, a formal account of immanent critique and distinguish between two different ways of carrying out such a critique. (shrink)
This working paper examines the notion of "immanent critique", a central methodological commitment of critical theories of society. In the first part, I distinguish immanent critique - a critique which reconstructs norms immanent in a social practice which point beyond the normative self-understanding of its members - from both external and internal critique and examine three questions that a theory of immanent critique has to answer (a social ontological, an epistemological and a justificatory question). After surveying some of the classic (...) accounts of immanent critique in part two, I then distinguish two varieties of immanent critique, a hermeneutic and a practice-theoretic approach. Drawing on theories in recent analytic philosophy, I finally argue for a practice-theoretic approach to immanent critique that locates the relevant norms in a practice constituted by mutual recognition. (shrink)
Critical theories often express scepticism towards the idea that social critique should draw on general normative principles, seeing such principles as bound to dominant conceptual frameworks. However, even the models of immanent critique developed in the Frankfurt School tradition seem to privilege principles over particular moral experiences. Discussing the place that particular moral experience has in the models of Honneth, Ferrara and Adorno, the article argues that experience can play an important negative role even for a critical theory that is (...) committed to the necessity of conceptual mediation, as moral experiences can undermine our confidence in the appropriateness of our moral concepts. Building on McDowell’s account of moral perception and Brandom’s interpretation of Hegel’s theory of experience, one can reconstruct Adorno as providing a “radically negativist” approach to immanent critique that takes particular moral experience seriously. (shrink)
Traditional arguments for privacy in public suggest that intentionally public activities, such as political speech, do not deserve privacy protection. In this article, I develop a new argument for the view that surveillance of intentionally public activities should be limited to protect the specific good that this context provides, namely democratic legitimacy. Combining insights from Helen Nissenbaum’s contextualism and Jürgen Habermas’s theory of the public sphere, I argue that strategic surveillance of the public sphere can undermine the capacity of citizens (...) to freely deliberate in public and therefore conflicts with democratic self-determination. (shrink)
Recognition is one of the most debated concepts in contemporary social and political thought. Its proponents, such as Axel Honneth, hold that to be recognized by others is a basic human need that is central to forming an identity, and the denial of recognition deprives individuals and communities of something essential for their flourishing. Yet critics including Judith Butler have questioned whether recognition is implicated in structures of domination, arguing that the desire to be recognized can motivative individuals to accept (...) their assigned place in the social order by conforming to oppressive norms or obeying repressive institutions. Is there a way to break this impasse? -/- Recognition and Ambivalence brings together leading scholars in social and political philosophy to develop new perspectives on recognition and its role in social life. It begins with a debate between Honneth and Butler, the first sustained engagement between these two major thinkers on this subject. Contributions from both proponents and critics of theories of recognition further reflect upon and clarify the problems and challenges involved in theorizing the concept and its normative desirability. Together, they explore different routes toward a critical theory of recognition, departing from wholly positive or negative views to ask whether it is an essentially ambivalent phenomenon. Featuring original, systematic work in the philosophy of recognition, this book also provides a useful orientation to the key debates on this important topic. (shrink)
“Ideal theorists” in contemporary liberal political theory argue that we can only arrive at a conception of what our most important political values require by reference to an imagined ideal state of affairs and that we must therefore, to some extent, engage in utopian thinking. Critical theorists, from Marx and the Frankfurt School, have traditionally been highly skeptical towards using idealizations in this way. This skepticism is mirrored by contemporary authors, such as Charles Mills. I argue that most of their (...) critical arguments make a principled case only against ahistorical, decontextualized projects of utopian idealization, but not against ideal theorizing as such. Critical theories do not need to reject ideal theorizing. On the contrary: The method of immanent critique that is specific to critical theory allows for a conception of an ideal state of affairs that emerges from its diagnosis of social contradictions. I conclude that critical theories can (and should) incorporate some aspects of ideal theorizing and its utopian reference to a better society. (shrink)
Many contemporary forms of oppression are not primarily the result of formally organized collective action nor are they an unintended outcome of a combination of individual actions. This raises the question of collective responsibility. I argue that we can only determine who is responsible for oppression if we understand oppression as a matter of social practices that create obstacles for social change. This social practice view of oppression enables two insights: First, that there is an unproblematic sense in which groups (...) can bear irreducible collective responsibility for oppression. Second, that there are derived forms of individual responsibility for members of dominant groups. (shrink)
Although the critique of reification is a core commitment of critical theories, there is no widely accepted account of its normative foundation. In Lukács’s original analysis, this foundation is provided by a strong concept of practice which is, however, not acceptable from a contemporary point of view. I argue that the systematic character of reification theory can only be upheld if this concept is replaced by a more intersubjective notion of normative practices. Reification can then be analysed as a second-order (...) pathology of social practices, as an inhibition of reflexivity by their normative shape. The normative justification of such critique, however, turns out to be more context-dependent than it is usually imagined. (shrink)
This chapter pursues three aims: First, I propose three different roles that hope can play in political philosophy - one instrumental, one constitutive, and the other justificatory. I then examine three major approaches to political hope, exemplified by Bloch, Rorty, and contemporary liberal authors in order to distinguish three approaches to the justificatory question. I argue that they make opposite mistakes with regard to the importance of hope. Whereas Bloch solves the problem of justification by introducing a metaphysics to support (...) hope, thereby adopting an overambitious concept of hope, Rorty and contemporary liberals assign it too small a role. Based on this discussion, I then argue for my own proposal; the view that, while ethical pluralism rules out any expectation that we can achieve more ambitious forms of community than political liberalism seems to allow, the requirements of justice may still require us to hope for the emergence of such forms of community. (shrink)
Wie lässt sich der Bereich des Privaten heute genau beschreiben? Welchen Wert besitzt Privatheit in digitalisierten Gesellschaften für den Einzelnen und die Gesellschaft als Ganzes? Welche Werte und Lebensformen werden durch Privatheit geschützt, welche eingeschränkt? Entstehen durch die Informationsasymmetrie zwischen Technologieunternehmen, staatlichen Verdatungsinstitutionen und Verbrauchern/Bürgern möglicherweise neue Machtstrukturen? Welche rechtlichen Implikationen ergeben sich hieraus? Dieser Band geht diesen und anderen Fragen, die sich im Hinblick auf die etablierte Gleichung von Freiheit und Privatheit stellen, nach und versucht Antworten zu finden.
This chapter discusses a fundamental ambivalence in Marx's use of the term "ideology". On the one hand, he employs a cognitivist critique of ideologies, condemning them in virtue of their epistemic or cognitive insufficiencies. On the other hand, what he so describes as false is a specific second-order belief: The belief that the cognitive is independent from material practice. If this belief is false, however, a merely epistemic critique of ideologies must miss its very point. -/- The chapter argues that (...) there is a way out of this dilemma if we assume, that ideologies are correct expressions of false practices. Ideological practices are practices which are constituted by norms that deny people the opportunity to legitimately question the categories which express basic distinctions established in the practices. In this case, ideological beliefs are not false, but deficient insofar they can only be expressed by employing concepts that rely on a limitation of our cognitive abilities. (shrink)
It is sometimes argued that ideal theories in political philosophy are a form of ideology. This article examines arguments building on the work of Charles Mills and Raymond Geuss for the claim that ideal theories are cognitively distorting belief systems that have the effect of stabilizing unjust social arrangements. I argue that Mills and Geuss neither succeed in establishing that the content of ideal theories is necessarily cognitively defective in the way characteristic for ideologies, nor can they make plausible which (...) mechanisms ensure the alleged negative effects of the widespread acceptance of ideal theorizing. This does not mean that all hope is lost for the ideology objection, however. By turning to a second Marxian model of ideology, I argue that the ideological character of ideal theories is not so much a matter of their content, but rather of their form. Ideal theories falsely present the normative concepts that they use as semantically practice-independent and thereby block potential challenges from subordinate groups to dominant ideologies. It is therefore not the normative content of ideal theories which proves to be objectionable, but the particular role their concepts play in wider political discourse. (shrink)
The work of the Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukács is a constant source of controversy in the history of the Frankfurt School. All leading thinkers of that theoretical tradition have struggled with Lukács’s theory. On the one hand, it was an inspiration for their attempts to come to terms with the oppressive features of capitalist modernity. On the other hand, both its political conclusions and Lukács’s actual philosophical submission to Soviet orthodoxy seemed to show that his theoretical framework was deeply flawed (...) in one aspect or another. (shrink)
This paper critically evaluates the semantic externalist conception of Race and Gender concepts put forward in Sally Haslanger's 2012 essay collection "Resisting Reality". I argue that her endorsement of "objective type externalism" limits the options for critique compared to social externalist approaches.
Substantively revised entry, 2023. Georg (György) Lukács (1885–1971) was a literary theorist and philosopher who is widely viewed as one of the founders of “Western Marxism” and as a forerunner of 20th-century critical theory. Lukács is best known for his Theory of the Novel (1916) and History and Class Consciousness (1923). In History and Class Consciousness, he laid out a wide-ranging critique of the phenomenon of “reification” in capitalism and formulated a vision of Marxism as a self-conscious transformation of society. (...) This text became a reference point both for critical social theory and for many currents of countercultural thought. Even though his later work did not capture the imagination of the intellectual public to the same extent as his earlier writings, Lukács remained a prolific writer and an influential theorist in his later career and published hundreds of articles on literary theory and aesthetics, not to mention numerous books, including two massive works on aesthetics and ontology. He was also active as a politician in Hungary in both the revolution of 1919 and during the events of 1956. Today, his work remains of philosophical interest not only because it contains the promise of an undogmatic, non-reductionist reformulation of Marxism, but also because it combines a philosophical approach that draws on Neo-Kantianism, Hegel, and Marx with an acute cultural sensitivity and a powerful critique of modern life inspired by Weber’s and Simmel’s sociological analyses of modern rationalization. (shrink)
The link between the right to privacy and the right to democratic self-determination is often understood to imply that privacy rights have only instrumental value for democratic participation, and that they consist solely in the possibility to retreat from participation in a public. I examine three arguments for an internal link between both sets of rights: The right to privacy protects political public spheres from epistemic inequality, it protects groups in public from a loss of their deliberative autonomy and it (...) blocks the colonisation of deliberative publics by strategic action orientations. These arguments suggest a genuine political purpose of the right to privacy. (shrink)
The Hegelian insight that subjectivity depends on recognition has been taken up by two competing traditions: Post-Hegelian theories (Honneth, Brandom) take recognition to be a precondition for a critical stance of subjects towards society. In contrast, theories of subjection (Althusser, Butler) take the dependency of subjects on subordinating relations of recognition as undermining their capacity for critique. I argue that this worry has not been taken seriously enough by the post-Hegelian tradition, especially by its model of immanent critique. However, theories (...) of subjection ignore that the very structure of recognitive relations supports critical capacities that can never be fully effaced by ideology. (shrink)
Collective intentionality is one of the most fundamental notions in social ontology. However, it is often thought to refer to a capacity which does not presuppose the existence of any other social facts. This chapter critically examines this view from the perspective of one specific theory of collective intentionality, the theory of Margaret Gilbert. On the basis of Gilbert’s arguments, the chapter claims that collective intentionality is a highly contingent achievement of complex social practices and, thus, not a basic social (...) phenomenon. The argument proceeds in three steps. First, Gilbert’s thesis that certain kinds of collective intentionality presuppose joint normative commitments is introduced. Second, it is argued that, on this view, individual commitments can only constitute the relevant kinds of collective intentional states if there are socially shared “principles of membership” that connect the force of individual commitments to a shared content. Third, it is shown that strong collective intentionality depends on the practical acceptance of shared norms and on the establishment of authority relations through mutual recognition. (shrink)
How are changes in the social order of recognition to be evaluated normatively? We argue that the conventional means of liberal philosophical theories of justice are insufficient to answer this question. This is for three reasons: First, relations of recognition are neither basic rights nor distributable goods, but rather constitutive for the meaning of those rights and goods which constitute the object domain of distributive theories of justice. Second, relations of recognition provide the framework for many questions of justice, outside (...) of which they make no sense. Third, the focus of contemporary theories of justice on basic rights risks supporting colonialization tendencies of purely legal forms of recognition. As an alternative, we discuss hermeneutic theories of justice and a conception of social freedom as inclusion and individualization. (shrink)
In verschiedenen philosophischen Traditionen findet sich die These, dass Haltungen der Anerkennung eine zentrale Rolle für die Existenz von sozialen Institutionen spielen. Der Artikel gibt einen kurzen Überblick über zentrale anerkennungstheoretische Modelle in der Sozialontologie.
There are few aphorisms in Minima Moralia that display a less sympathetic attitude towards their subject than “They, the people”(§ 7). Adorno denounces the “amor intellectualis for [the] kitchen personnel” in the subsequent aphorism, but “They, the people” already seems to confirm all suspicions about the alleged elitism of critical theory. The idea that intellectuals mostly encounter those less educated when “illiterates come to intellectuals wanting letters written for them” is laughable, even for the 1950s, and the claim that, among (...) the “underdogs”,“envy and spite surpass anything seen among literati or musical directors”(ibid.) oozes with contempt, no matter how much Adorno insists that these alleged character deficits result from the social structures in which uneducated, working class people find themselves. Yet the point of Adorno’s remarks is not to disprove a deferential form of a Lukácsian “standpoint theory …. (shrink)
Bringing together leading scholars in contemporary social and political philosophy, this volume takes up the central themes of Axel Honneth’s work as a starting point for debating the present and future of critical theory, as a form of socially grounded philosophy for analyzing and critiquing society today.
Hegels Begriff der Freiheit, zugleich Fundament und Schlussstein des Gebaudes einer Philosophie, wird oft als Signatur der problematischen Konstellation "Moderne" gelesen, die Hegel nach eigenem Anspruch mit seiner Philosophie "in Begriffe fassen" wollte. Hegels Werk ist durchzogen von "falschen" oder irrtumlichen Vorstellungen, die sich Subjekte und Kollektive von Freiheit machen konnen, so dass man sagen kann, Hegel habe mehr Zeit und Muhe in die Kritik zu kurz greifender Freiheitsbegriffe als auf die Ausarbeitung eines positiven Begriffs moderner Freiheit verwandt. Dies nicht (...) einfach nur deshalb, weil Kritik eine wesentliche Aufgabe der Arbeit des Negativen und damit des Begriffs darstellt, sondern weil diese Irrtumer auch wesentliche Momente der modernen Idee der Freiheit sind. Die in diesem Band versammelten Beitrage diskutieren zentrale Formen der in Hegels Augen unvollstandigen Momente der modernen Freiheit in Recht, Moral, Kunst und Religion und werfen die Frage nach den Bedingungen und Grenzen von Hegels Freiheitsbegriff auf. (shrink)
The contributions in this volume, written by leading scholars in the philosophy of hope, gives a systematic overview over the philosophical history of hope, about contemporary debates and about the role of hope in our collective life.
Georg (György) Lukács (1885–1971) was a literary theorist and philosopher who is widely viewed as one of the founders of “Western Marxism”. Lukács is best known for his pre-World War II writings in literary theory, aesthetic theory and Marxist philosophy. Today, his most widely read works are the Theory of the Novel of 1916 and History and Class Consciousness of 1923. In History and Class Consciousness, Lukács laid out a wide-ranging critique of the phenomenon of “reification” in capitalism and formulated (...) a vision of Marxism as a self-conscious transformation of society. (shrink)
In regard to the explanation of actions that are governed by institutional rules, John R. Searle introduces the notion of a mental “background” that is supposed to explain how persons can acquire the capacity of following such rules. I argue that Searle’s internalism about the mind and the resulting poverty of his conception of the background keep him from putting forward a convincing explanation of the normative features of institutional action. Drawing on competing conceptions of the background of Heidegger and (...) Wittgenstein, I propose to revise Searle’s conception. The background of institutional agency can only provide a convincing explanation if it includes the context of actions and intersubjective structures of a shared life-world. I suggest that a further development of this idea would lead to the identification of the background with a web of social recognition. (shrink)