Freedom's Right: The Social Foundations of Democratic Life by Axel Honneth

By Axel Honneth

The idea of justice is among the such a lot intensely debated components of latest philosophy. such a lot theories of justice, even if, have merely attained their excessive point of justification at nice fee. by way of targeting merely normative, summary ideas, they develop into indifferent from the field that constitutes their “field of application” - particularly, social reality.

Axel Honneth proposes a distinct procedure. He seeks to derive the at present definitive standards of social justice at once from the normative claims that experience constructed inside of Western liberal democratic societies. those standards and those claims jointly make up what he phrases “democratic moral life”: a process of morally valid norms that aren't purely legally anchored, but additionally institutionally established.

Honneth justifies this far-reaching endeavour by means of demonstrating that every one crucial spheres of motion in Western societies percentage a unmarried characteristic, as all of them declare to gain a particular element of person freedom. within the spirit of Hegel’s Philosophy of correct and guided through the speculation of popularity, Honneth exhibits how ideas of person freedom are generated which represent the traditional of justice in numerous concrete social spheres: own relationships, fiscal task available in the market, and the political public sphere. Honneth seeks thereby to gain a truly bold target: to resume the speculation of justice as an research of society.


Freedom's correct is a stunningly formidable exploration of the ways that significant associations of Western society advertise freedom and while current stumbling blocks to its cognizance. Axel Honneth defends a compelling belief of social freedom grounded in mutual popularity, which he employs either to understand modern social truth and to bare its deficiencies. characterised by way of a unprecedented richness of element, this book's target is a provocative mixture of reconciliation and critique. No social thinker has tried a undertaking of this scope given that Hegel composed the Philosophy of correct nearly 200 years ago.

(Frederick Neuhouser, Barnard College)

Breaking with the dominant kind of modern political philosophy, Axel Honneth demonstrates how fruitful it may be to strengthen a concept of social justice now not just by attractive to universal ideals and intuitions yet extra essentially by means of knowing the attribute associations of recent society. Freedom's correct is a superb paintings via considered one of today's best philosophers.

(Charles Larmore, Brown University)

This publication is an important assertion through the specified point of view of a pivotal determine within the Frankfurt tuition culture. Axel Honneth's money owed of social freedom, normative reconstruction, and societal pathologies are certain to be issues of reference inside serious social idea for many years to come.

(Joel Anderson, Utrecht University)

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1 What makes this new, discursive view of freedom ‘social’ is the fact that it regards a certain institution of social reality no longer as a mere addition to freedom, but as its medium and condition. On this account individual subjects can perform the reflexive acts required for self-determination only if they interact socially with others who do the same. The given institutional setting, discourse in this case, is no longer something that needs to be added to a given concept of freedom in order to arrive at a conception of social justice, rather, it constitutes an element of freedom itself.

That is to say, I ought never to act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law. Here bare conformity to universal law as such (without having as its base any law prescribing particular actions) is what serves the will as its principle, and must so serve it.  . ’13 In the final step of his argumentation, Kant claims that this principle of universality also conveys an attitude of universal respect, for as soon as I ask whether all other subjects could agree to the maxim I obey in my own actions, I respect their rationality and treat them as ends in themselves.

On the one hand, and almost by definition, wherever a ‘free will’ exists, it should always be able to cause the action it performs; but on the other hand, only subjects seem to have the power to obey either their will or their own passions. Rousseau does not yet possess the conceptual tools to resolve these contradictions. Neither is it clear what exactly he means by ‘will’, nor is he capable of understanding what this ‘weakness of the will’ really means. However, his exploratory considerations on autonomy or self-legislation (Selbstgesetzgebung), as well as his definition of free action, were groundbreaking and fruitful enough to lay the foundation for two versions of the modern idea of reflexive freedom.

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