Recognition, Needs and Wrongness

European Journal of Political Theory 8 (1):13-30 (2009)
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`Due recognition is a vital human need', argues Charles Taylor. In this article I explore this oft-quoted claim from two complementary and equally appealing perspectives. The bottom—up approach is constructed around Axel Honneth's theory of recognition, and the top—down approach is exemplified by T. M. Scanlon's brief remarks about mutual recognition. The former can be summed up in the slogan `wronging by misrecognizing', the latter in the slogan `misrecognizing by wronging'. Together they provide two complementary readings of the claim that due recognition is a vital human need: one starts from needs, shows how we have a multifarious need for adequate recognition and builds up to a view about wronging; the other starts from wronging and discusses the kind of interest or need that we have of standing in relations where wronging is absent.

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Arto Laitinen
Tampere University


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