Immanent Critique

Stahl, Titus

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When we criticize social institutions and practices, what kinds of reasons can we offer for such criticism? Political philosophers often assume that we must rely on universal moral principles that are not necessarily connected to the particular social practices of our communities. Traditionally, continental critical theory has rejected this claim through its endorsement of the method of immanent critique. Immanent critique is a critique of social practices that draws on norms already present within these practices to demand social change, rather than merely conservatively reproducing them. Titus Stahl defends the claim that such a critique is not only possible, but also has politically powerful potential. Taking up recent developments in analytic enquiry into collective intentionality theory and in the philosophy of language, he argues that all social practices rest on structures of mutual recognition between persons that allow social theorists to reconstruct hidden norms present within these practices. Starting from a comprehensive critique of contemporary critical theory, Immanent Critique also spells out the consequences of this line of thought for the practice of social critique, for the social sciences and for political philosophy.


Date of Publication
Rowman & Littlefield International