Public Reason: Vol. 4, No. 1-2, June-December 2012
Globalizing Recognition: Global Justice and the Dialectic of Recognition
Gottfried Schweiger

The question I want to answer is if and how the recognition approach, taken from the works of Axel Honneth, could be an adequate framework for addressing the problems of global justice and poverty. My thesis is that such a globalization of the recognition approach rests on the dialectic of relative and absolute elements of recognition. (1) First, I will discuss the relativism of the recognition approach, that it understands recognition as being relative to a certain society or a set of institutions. The same is true for various forms of disrespect such as denigration or exclusion. The recognition approach is a form of internal reconstructive critique, which does not want to refer to absolute or ahistorical standards. (2) Second, I show that this relative understanding of recognition and disrespect rests on an absolute core of recognition, which transcends any given society. In short, this core is the possibility of undistorted self-realization, which is the main and universal element of a good life. Such an absolute core is necessary for distinguishing between justified and unjustified claims of relative recognition. It also serves as the normative benchmark for any society. (3) Finally, I will discuss the relation of these relative and absolute elements of recognition against the background of global justice. Claims of recognition can refer to this absolute core and demand that intersubjective conditions and social relations should change in order to make undistorted self-realization possible. This is the main point of reference for a recognition-based concept of global justice.

Key words: recognition, global justice, poverty.


Schweiger, Gottfried. 2012. Globalizing Recognition: Global Justice and the Dialectic of Recognition. Public Reason 4 (1-2): 78-91.