Science, normativity and skill: Reviewing and renewing the anthropological basis of Critical Theory

Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (2):139-165 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The categories and contours of a normative social theory are prefigured by its ‘anthropological’ presuppositions. The discourse/communicative-theoretic basis of Habermasian theory was prefigured by a strong anthropological demarcation between an instrumentally structured realm of science, technology and labor versus a normatively structured realm of social interaction. An alternative anthropology, bolstered by current work in the empirical sciences, finds fundamental normative needs for orientation and ‘compensation’ also to be embedded in embodied material practices. An emerging anthropologically informed concept of skill that goes beyond old manual versus intellectual dichotomies and brings forth internal criteria of autonomy and authenticity can serve as a new bridge between categories of social justice, such as Sen and Nussbaum’s basic human ‘capabilities’, and new cutting-edge work in the empirical human sciences and thereby provide Critical Theory with a renewed point of departure that is both normatively and descriptively rich, for advancing its dialectical, historical mission



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,386

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Communication, Recognition and Politics.Jordy Rocheleau - 2001 - Social Philosophy Today 17:253-263.
F.j.J. Buytendijk's concept of an anthropological physiology.Wim J. M. Dekkers - 1995 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 16 (1).
Anthropology as Science and the Anthropology of Science and of Anthropology or Understanding and Explanation in the Social Sciences, Part II.I. C. Jarvie - 1984 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1984:745 - 763.
Anthropological theory: an introductory history.R. Jon McGee - 2003 - Boston: McGraw-Hill. Edited by Richard L. Warms.
The limits of cognitive theory in anthropology.Mark Risjord - 2004 - Philosophical Explorations 7 (3):281 – 297.
Critical Science Studies as Argumentation Theory: Who’s Afraid of SSK?William Rehg - 2000 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 30 (1):33-48.
The anthropological tradition in the philosophy of medicine.Henk Ten Have - 1995 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 16 (1).


Added to PP

27 (#574,515)

6 months
5 (#629,136)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Lenny Moss
University of Exeter

Citations of this work

The phenomenology of everyday expertise and the emancipatory interest.Brian O’Connor - 2013 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 39 (9):0191453713498388.
The Good Life in the Greenhouse? Autonomy, Democracy, and Citizenship in the Anthropocene.A. Biro - 2015 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 2015 (172):15-37.
Eccentric Investigations of (Post-)Humanity.Phillip Honenberger - 2016 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 46 (1):56-76.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

The Problem of Nature in Habermas.Joel Whitebook - 1979 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 1979 (40):41-69.
The Problem of Nature in Habermas.Joel Whitebook - 1979 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 40:41.

Add more references