First Things First Redistribution, Recognition and Justification

This article analyses the debate between Nancy Fraser and Axel Honneth in a dialectical fashion. Their controversy about how to construct a critical theory of justice is not just one about the proper balance between `redistribution' and `recognition', it also involves basic questions of social ontology. Differing both from Fraser's `twodimensional' view of `participatory parity' and from Honneth's `monistic' theory of recognition, the article argues for a third view of `justificatory monism and diagnosticevaluative pluralism', also called the `first-things-first' approach. According to it, theories of recognition provide an essential sensorium for analyses of social suffering and of injustice, while with respect to the justification of justice claims, a discursive conception of justification is required. This, however, does not imply a purely `formal' account of justice; rather, it leads to a substantive understanding of the `grammar of justice', motivationally, socially and institutionally. Such an account of a critical theory of justice aims at a multidimensional critique of social and political `relations of justification'
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DOI 10.1177/1474885107077318
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Simon Thompson (2005). Is Redistribution a Form of Recognition? Comments on the Fraser–Honneth Debate. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 8 (1):85-102.
Nicholas H. Smith (2009). Work and the Struggle for Recognition. European Journal of Political Theory 8 (1):46-60.

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