Reciprocity, individuals and community: Remarks on phenomenology, social theory and politics

Philosophy and Social Criticism 29 (6):631-654 (2003)
The contribution of Husserl's phenomenology to the foundations of social and political theory can be appraised at both the methodological and the normative level. First, it makes intersubjective interaction central to the constitution of social reality. Second, it stresses reciprocity as a constitutive feature of intersubjectivity. In this context, individuals can be seen to be both ‘constituting’ and ‘constituted by’ their participation in communities, under a constraint of mutual recognition as intentional agents. This view is in no way atomistic, as it allows individual identities to be constituted intersubjectively; still, it remains individualistic, since it does not permit the ontological independence of collective entities. At the epistemological level, this provides a foundation of methodological individualism; at the normative level, it suggests that social order is a deliberative task and political legitimacy ultimately rests on moral principles of reciprocity and equal respect.
Keywords Intersubjectivity  Social science  Democracy  Phenomenology
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DOI 10.1177/0191453703296003
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Kenneth C. Bessant (2011). Authenticity, Community, and Modernity. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 41 (1):2-32.

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