Asymmetrical Reciprocity and Practical Agency: Contemporary Dilemmas of Feminist Theory in Benhabib, Young, and Kristeva

  • Patricia HuntingtonEmail author
Part of the Contributions To Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 84)


This essay presses the need for developing a richer phenomenological description within feminist theory of the process whereby two different persons realize reciprocal recognition. A phenomenological examination of the implicit yet differing ontological assumptions that Benhabib and Young hold, reveals how both the dimensions of symmetry and asymmetry must operate in order to develop the expanded consciousness and affective empathy requisite to recognize another as a three-dimensional moral agent. Implicit in this process, I suggest, is a constructive rather than projective use of imagination. Relying on Kristeva, I sketch a picture of how imagination plays with both dimensions of sameness and difference in communicative interaction. That interplay may catalyze a genuine awakening to the irreducible realities of difference without projecting distorting stereotypes onto other social groups.


Moral Judgment Formal Equality Moral Agent Subject Position Regulative Ideal 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New CollegeArizona State University-WestGlendaleUSA

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