CFP: Recognition and Socialism

Submission deadline: April 1, 2014

Conference date(s):
July 18, 2014

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Conference Venue:

Department of Philosophy, Goethe University of Frankfurt
Frankfurt, Germany

Topic areas


*Recognition and Socialism* Workshop at Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany, Juli 18, 2014 on the occasion of the 65th birthday of Axel Honneth
Call for Papers

It is one of the central claims of Hegel's social philosophy that modern civil societies –especially as far as markets of goods and labor play a central role within them – are not only spheres of self-interested, strategic action, but also of intersubjective recognition. Hegel assumes that, through their participation in the market, individuals can experience that their achievements are socially valued. However it is unclear whether this is meant by Hegelas a description of actually existing societies or whether it makes explicit a normative demand that they do not yet fulfill.   Furthermore, an entire tradition of social critique has rejected Hegel's claim of the compatibility of market societies and recognition by pointing out that the modern, capitalist mode of production systematically produces forms of injustice and exploitation that not only undermine the formal equality of citizens, but also generate social pathologies like alienation and reification which impede their full participation in social practices of recognition. For this reason, it was denied, by Marx in particular, that there can be self- and other-relations that contribute to human flourishing while there is capitalism.   From the point of view of this tradition, the question therefore arises whethe ra theory of recognition supports an ideal of a socialist form of society and how this society must be conceived of, if, on the one hand, it is to avoid the injustices and ethical deficits which systematically undermine the promise of equal recognition in capitalist civil societies, and if, on the other hand, it must not fall back behind the gains in mutual recognition and practical coordination that have been historically achieved by the capitalist market order. This concerns foremost the question of socialist production (labor conditions), circulation (conditions of exchange and markets) and consumption (development and satisfaction of needs).   But beyond these immediate questions, the issue of whether there could be a socialist ethical order (“Sittlichkeit”) needs to be discussed.   This workshop is to explore the relation between socialism and recognition both in a historical as well as in a systematical perspective. We would be especially interested in abstracts for papers concerning the following topics:

  • /Theoretical traditions: /Are there traces of a socialist approach in Hegel? Is there a theory of recognition in Marx? How do the predecessors and heirs of these traditions (such as the political economists, the early socialists, the Frankfurt School, analytical Marxists, praxis philosophers, neo-Aristotelians and neo-pragmatists) conceive of the relation between the two concepts?
  • /Social diagnosis: /What is the best description of the relation between economics and normative orders of recognition in regard to contemporary society? Which analyses of neoliberalism, privatization, marketization, commercialization, acceleration or of a “new spirit of capitalism” might be especially suited to get this relationship into view?
  • /Recognition, justice and civil society: /Can a theory of recognition be used to add new dimensions to the critique of inequality, unfreedom and exploitation – or does it represent entirely different ideals? Is there a critique of capitalism that is specific to theories of recognition? Upon what normative principles might such a theory draw? Is it a kind of “ideal” or “non-ideal” theory?
  • /Markets and morality:/ Do markets support or undermine morality – and if so, which markets and which morality? What are the conditions of ethical action within markets and in which ways might markets inhibit such action? Are there new perspectives to be found in practices such as file sharing or “commons-based production”? Can the potential for mutual recognition which is contained within capitalist societies only be realized in market-based, in market-socialist or in market-free societies?
  • /Work and freedom:/ What is the role of relationships of recognition for self-realization in work or beyond work? What does this mean for ideals like full employment or for conceptions of an unconditional basic income? Are there consequences for the relation between paid and unpaid labor, between social labor and private appropriation?
  • /Socialism and self-realization: /Can a theory of recognition be used to formulate an emancipatory idea of society? How would such an idea relate to recent proposals of a transformation of capitalism? Or is there only a negativist method of critique that can be supported by a theory of recognition? What role does the concept of recognition play for a non-paternalist theory of social liberation? * /Concrete Utopias: /Are there any starting points for socialist relationships of recognition already present in contemporary societies? What is the philosophical relevance of alternative forms of economic organization and of communal living, such as participatory democracy, communes, cooperatives or the commons?
  • /Political organization: /What is the legacy of “radical reformism”, of revolution and subversion? How is the ideal of recognition related to questions of political agency and of organization? How do civil or post-capitalist forms of solidarity within orders of recognition relate to political action?
This call for papers is directed at postgraduate students and early career researchers. Abstracts of up to 300 words must be submitted until April, 1st, 2014 to   Acceptance will be confirmed between then and May, 1st.   Presentations at the workshop can be given in German or English and should be no longer than 30 minutes. Participants are required to submit a full paper until July 1st which will be distributed among all attendees in advance.   Homepage: **   Organized by the Institute for Social Research and the Institute of Philosophy of the Goethe University Frankfurt. Supported by the research project “Actuality of Critique” (CactuS).

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