Roberto Frega
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
This article critically examines two central concepts in normative theory—ethical life and morality—by comparing the pragmatist approach with that of Critical Theory. This is done by way of a close scrutiny of Axel Honneth’s reading of the pragmatist philosophers John Dewey and George H. Mead. This focus on Honneth’s use of pragmatism serves as a port of entry to provide a comparative analysis of pragmatism and Critical Theory’s approaches to normativity. As I intend to show, Honneth’s troubles with making sense of the pragmatist approach to normativity are a litmus test of some persistent ambiguities at the heart of his understanding of normativity. I set the stage by reconstructing Honneth’s reading of Dewey and Mead. That will provide the background against which to set up a comparison between the pragmatist conception of normativity and that of Critical Theory, with a view to assessing their relative validity. I then relate Honneth’s reading of the pragmatists to his own philosophical project and to the important place occupied in it by the same dualism of ethical life and morality.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 1053-8364
DOI 10.5840/jpr2015111653
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