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Social Freedom and Self-Actualization: “Normative Reconstruction” as a Theory of Justice

McNeill, David N (2015) 'Social Freedom and Self-Actualization: “Normative Reconstruction” as a Theory of Justice.' Critical Horizons, 16 (2). pp. 153-169. ISSN 1440-9917

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In Freedom's Right Axel Honneth seeks to provide a theory of justice by appropriatingHegel's account of ethical substance in the Philosophy of Right, but hewants to do sowithout endorsingHegel'smore robust idealist commitments. I argue that this project can only succeed if Honneth can offer an alternative, comparatively robust demonstration of the rationality and normative coherence of existing social institutions. I contend that the grounds Honneth provides for this claimare insufficient for his purposes. In particular, I argue that Honneth's claim that "justice and individual self-determination are mutually referential," even were it to be accepted, would be insufficient to underwrite hismore robust identification between the normative foundations of justice, autonomy and reciprocal self-realization. In the final section of the paper, I turn to Honneth's analysis of the "social institution" of friendship,which he, followingHegel, holds up as a paradigmatic instantiation of social freedom understood as, in Hegel's words, "being with oneself in another" (Beisichselbstsein in einem Anderen). I argue that an analysis of the normative import of friendship wholly in terms of mutual recognition misses an important aspect of the kind of self-realization that friendship makes possible.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2015 09:19
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 11:56

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