Hegel's grounding of intersubjectivity in the master-slave dialectic

Philosophy and Social Criticism 38 (3):237-256 (2012)
In this article I seek to explain Hegel’s significance to contemporary meta-ethics, in particular to Kantian constructivism. I argue that in the master–slave dialectic in the Phenomenology of Spirit , Hegel shows that self-consciousness and intersubjectivity arise at the same time. This point, I argue, shows that there is no problem with taking other people’s reasons to motivate us since reflection on our aims is necessarily also reflection on the needs of those around us. I further explore Hegel’s contribution to the debate about internal and external reasons. I end by arguing that we should understand reasons as historically constructed in the sense that who counts as an intrinsic bearer of value changes over time. I thus argue that the struggle for recognition is in fact the beginning of the long march toward the idea of recognition and the Kantian kingdom of ends. This march, however, is driven by the need to overcome injustice as it is instantiated at the beginning of history by the master’s absolute domination of the slave
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DOI 10.1177/0191453711430929
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