On the consistency of Axel Honneth’s philosophy: Methodology, critique, and current struggles for recognition

Philosophical Forum 49 (4):483-509 (2018)
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Over three decades, Axel Honneth has developed one of the most fully-structured recognition paradigms in the field of social philosophy. Although it has undergone considerable theoretical changes, this paradigm retains a strong unity. I will analyze it in light of the Frankfurt school critical social theory research program. By so doing, I aim, first, to outline a defense of Honneth’s theory against growing criticisms, which tend to see depletion of its critical insights in his most recent works. Secondly, I aim to highlight that most of the weaknesses pointed out by his critics derive from the methodology with which Honneth frames the concept of recognition, and which he explicitly related to the Frankfurt school critical social theory. Thirdly, I argue that, insofar as we are at present witnessing a transformation in the nature of current struggles for recognition, it is precisely one of the premises of this methodology that runs the risk of being undermined (i.e. the classical relation between theory and “praxis”).
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