Freedom’s Right: The Social Foundations of Democratic Life

The theory of justice is one of the most intensely debated areas of contemporary philosophy. Most theories of justice, however, have only attained their high level of justification at great cost. By focusing on purely normative, abstract principles, they become detached from the sphere that constitutes their “field of application”–Namely, social reality. Axel Honneth proposes a different approach. He seeks to derive the currently definitive criteria of social justice directly from the normative claims that have developed within Western liberal democratic societies. These criteria and these claims together make up what he terms “democratic ethical life”: a system of morally legitimate norms that are not only legally anchored, but also institutionally established. Honneth justifies this far-reaching endeavour by demonstrating that all essential spheres of action in Western societies share a single feature, as they all claim to realize a specific aspect of individual freedom. In the spirit of Hegels Philosophy of Right and guided by the theory of recognition, Honneth shows how principles of individual freedom are generated which constitute the standard of justice in various concrete social spheres: personal relationships, economic activity in the market, and the political public sphere. Honneth seeks thereby to realize a very ambitious aim: to renew the theory of justice as an analysis of society. — Publisher description. Read more… Abstract: The theory of justice is one of the most intensely debated areas of contemporary philosophy. Most theories of justice, however, have only attained their high level of justification at great cost. By focusing on purely normative, abstract principles, they become detached from the sphere that constitutes their “field of application”–Namely, social reality. Axel Honneth proposes a different approach. He seeks to derive the currently definitive criteria of social justice directly from the normative claims that have developed within Western liberal democratic societies. These criteria and these claims together make up what he terms “democratic ethical life”: a system of morally legitimate norms that are not only legally anchored, but also institutionally established. Honneth justifies this far-reaching endeavour by demonstrating that all essential spheres of action in Western societies share a single feature, as they all claim to realize a specific aspect of individual freedom. In the spirit of Hegels Philosophy of Right and guided by the theory of recognition, Honneth shows how principles of individual freedom are generated which constitute the standard of justice in various concrete social spheres: personal relationships, economic activity in the market, and the political public sphere. Honneth seeks thereby to realize a very ambitious aim: to renew the theory of justice as an analysis of society. — Publisher description
Theories of justice often fixate on purely normative, abstract principles unrelated to real-world applications. The philosopher and theorist Axel Honneth addresses this disconnect, constructing a theory of justice derived from the normative claims of Western liberal-democratic societies and anchored in the law and institutionally established practices that possess moral legitimacy.

Termed a “democratic ethical life,” Honneth’s paradigm draws on the spirit of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right and his own theory of recognition, demonstrating how concrete social spheres generate the principles of individual freedom and a standard for what is just. Using social analysis to re-found a more grounded theory of justice, Honneth argues that all crucial actions in Western civilization, whether in personal relationships, market-induced economic activities, or the public forum of politics, share one defining characteristic: they require the realization of a particular aspect of individual freedom. This fundamental truth, Honneth shows, informs the guiding principles of justice, enabling a wide-ranging reconsideration of its theory.

Title: Freedom’s Right The Social Foundations of Democratic Life
Author:
ISBN: 0231530854,9780231530859
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Genre: Philosophy / Movements / Critical Theory
Date Published:
Pages: 448
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