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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 17, 2001

Communication, Conflict, and Reconciliation

Jordy Rocheleau
Pages 253-263

Communication, Recognition and Politics
Reconciling the Critical Theories of Honneth and Habermas

Axel Honneth has outlined a critical social theory in terms of recognition. He has recently argued that his theory is superior to the communications framework of Habermas in that it better achieves the goals of providing normative criticism of society's ability to foster genuine and full sell-realization and explaining how emancipatory social movements can emerge within existing society. After exploring these arguments and their implications for critical theory, this paper concludes that Honneth's criticisms of Habermas fail and that the former's recognition theory cannot provide an adequate free-standing alternative critical framework. lnstead, it is argued that recognition theory is best seen as a complement of a critical theory for which the normative basis remains Habermasian discourse ethics.

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