The Harm Principle and Recognition Theory: On the Complementarity Between Linklater, Honneth and the Project of Emancipation
This paper explores potential points of synthesis between two leading theorists in Critical Theory and Critical International Relations Theory, Axel Honneth and Andrew Linklater. Whereas Linklater's recent work on the harm principle has turned away from the critical social theory of the Frankfurt School in favour of Norbert Elias and process sociology, the paper observes a fundamental complementarity between harm and the precepts of recognition theory that can bridge these otherwise disparate approaches to emancipation. The paper begins with a brief overview of Linklater's emancipatory vision before examining his recent turn to the harm principle and Eliasian process sociology. It is argued that Honneth's work, particularly the ideas of mutual recognition and the diagnosis of social pathologies, clearly resonant with Linklater's defence of ethical universalism and can help further the emancipatory project of Critical International Relations Theory. In particular, Honneth's intersubjective concept of autonomy is argued to provide a normative and empirical standard for emancipation premised on the historically progressive expansion of attitudes of recognition, born out of social struggles, toward the ideal institutionalisation of mutual recognition in world politics.
Political Theory and Political Philosophy