European Journal of Political Theory 13 (2):178-198 (2014)

Authors
Todd Hedrick
Michigan State University
Abstract
This paper proposes reformulating the theory and critique of reification around the democracy-undermining consequences of reification in law. In contradistinction to Axel Honneth’s attempts to revive reification as an orienting concept for critical theory using moral and psychological categories, I reconstruct the elements of a theory of legal reification from Marx’s and Lukács’ writings, both of whom suggest the formality of modern legal systems tends to render legally mediated social relations in an ossified, nature-like manner, although I argue that neither could assemble a full theory of legal reification absent insights from the theory of constitutional democracy and legal realism. I close by arguing that it is fruitful to view reification as closely linked to modern legal practices because it grounds the concept in a way that avoids theoretical problems found in Lukács, as Honneth wishes, while connecting it to normative issues in law and democracy in a way that he does not
Keywords Marx  Lukács  Honneth  law  reification  legal realism  constitutional democracy
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DOI 10.1177/1474885113483286
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