Recognition as the Grounds of a General Theory of Crime as Social Harm?

  • Majid Yar


In evaluating the capacity of recognition theory to furnish a general theoretical framework for grasping social processes, relations, and problems, it is worth remembering the origins of Critical Theory. Despite the foundation of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research in 1923, its distinctive critical project was not explicitly formulated until 1931, on the occasion of Max Horkheimer’s assumption of the Directorship of the Institute (Honneth 1992, p. 3). Horkheimer’s opening address, titled ‘The Present Situation of Social Philosophy and the Tasks of an Institute for Social Research’, presented the ambition of Critical Theory as

the philosophical interpretation of the vicissitudes of human fate — the fate of humans not as mere individuals, however, but as members of a community. It is thus above all concerned with phenomena that can only be understood in the context of human social life: with the state, law, economy, religion

(Horkheimer 1993[1931], p. 1)

Horkeheimer distinguished this social-philosophical endeavour from that of Enlightenment philosophy (exemplified by Kant), which while attending to matters of art, culture, law, and moral life did so only with reference to the ‘isolated subject’.


Critical Theory Social Harm Causal Hypothesis Legal Positivism Social Subject 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  • Majid Yar

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