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Recognition, Normative Reconstruction and Economic Justice: National and Transnational Perspectives

Odigbo, IM (2019) Recognition, Normative Reconstruction and Economic Justice: National and Transnational Perspectives. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

Drawing on Axel Honneth’s theory of recognition, this thesis seeks to develop a normative-reconstructive approach to the theory of justice for the economic sphere, reflecting domestic and transnational perspectives. In the first part, I first reconstruct and critically evaluate how Honneth’s views on justice in the economic sphere have evolved from Struggle for Recognition to the Idea of Socialism. Against this backdrop I then go beyond Honneth and outline and defend a mixed-view for the domestic level that combines elements from the Freedom’s Right and Recognition and Redistribution. I come up with a weak interpretation of social freedom in the economic sphere and argue that the best way to understand weak social freedom is as a threshold view based on collective recognition: the normative promise of the market consists in the fact that everyone participating in it ought to have enough recognition (understood in terms of need, esteem and respect) both in the productive and consumptive dimension of the economy. Above the threshold, socio-economic differences are to be justified in terms of individual recognition, as envisioned by Honneth in Recognition and Redistribution. However, again it is important to consider the aspects of need, esteem and respect in both the productive and consumptive dimension of the market. I then look at two case studies of low wage and luxury consumption to put my model to work and compare it with alternatives. The second part of my thesis is dedicated to developing a recognition theoretical model of transnational economic justice. I argue that the conditions of Sittlichkeit that underpin the applicability of weak social freedom are absent in the transnational market. Therefore, we rely exclusively on standards of individual freedom according to the recognition norms of need, esteem and respect, which, I argue, are constitutive for market relations. I then apply this normative-reconstructive approach again to a case study: sweatshops. My conclusion is, with regards to the productive dimension of sweatshops, that low wages, meaningless work and bad working conditions which both find justification according to classical economic standards all violate the requirements of justice conceived of legitimate expectations for individual recognition that are underpinned by norms that are constitutive of the market. Likewise, in my analysis of the consumption dimension of sweatshops, I demonstrate that lack of necessities on the side of sweatshop workers, their deception or manipulation resulting from fake or substandard goods and lack of voice in what gets produced and the condition under which it is produced all violate the demands of respect, esteem and need.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Ikechukwu Odigbo
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2019 13:04
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2019 13:04
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24202

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