Immanent Critique and Particular Moral Experience

Stahl, Titus
Journal article
in Critical Horizons, 2022



Critical theories often express scepticism towards the idea that social critique should draw on general normative principles, seeing such principles as bound to dominant conceptual frameworks. However, even the models of immanent critique developed in the Frankfurt School tradition seem to privilege principles over particular moral experiences. Discussing the place that particular moral experience has in the models of Honneth, Ferrara and Adorno, the article argues that experience can play an important negative role even for a critical theory that is committed to the necessity of conceptual mediation, as moral experiences can undermine our confidence in the appropriateness of our moral concepts. Building on McDowell’s account of moral perception and Brandom’s interpretation of Hegel’s theory of experience, one can reconstruct Adorno as providing a “radically negativist” approach to immanent critique that takes particular moral experience seriously.