Philosophical Papers 42 (1):49 - 77 (2013)

George Hull
University of Cape Town
Feminist philosophers and philosophers drawing on the German tradition of social philosophy have recently converged in stressing the importance of the concept of reification?first explicitly discussed by György Lukács?for the diagnosis of contemporary social and ethical problems. However, importing a theoretical framework alien to Lukács? original discussion has often led to the conflation of reification with other social and ethical problems. Here it is argued that a coherent conception of reification, free of implausible Marxist and idealist trappings, can be recovered from Lukács? original discussion of it: the socially induced distortion of experience such that what is in fact human action appears as mere natural happening. This phenomenon is to be distinguished from, firstly, instrumentalising objectification of persons and, secondly, person-identification failure, with which Martha Nussbaum and Axel Honneth respectively have equated reification in recent work. Reification, on the understanding of it recovered here, is problematic not just because it is an illusion, but also because it can render moral reasons for action or omission, and grounds of ethical evaluation, invisible to agents, and, moreover, because it can lead people to tolerate as inevitable undesirable situations which could in fact be changed. It can thus ground social criticism
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DOI 10.1080/05568641.2013.774723
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References found in this work BETA

Objectification.Martha C. Nussbaum - 1995 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 24 (4):249-291.
Reification: A New Look at an Old Idea.Axel Honneth & Martin Jay - 2009 - Political Theory 37 (2):310-313.

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