The Ethics of Recognition: Agents, Identities, and Institutions

 Panel Convenors: Paddy McQueen and Cillian McBride (

Recognition is becoming an increasingly important concept in political theory, fuelled in large part by the work of Axel Honneth. Central to recognition theory is the Hegelian insight that our identities are shaped by the perceptions and judgements of others, and thus acts of misrecognition and non-recognition can constitute forms of injustice. The value of recognition theory is bolstered by an increasingly common assertion that many historical and contemporary social struggles are best conceived as struggles for recognition. This has led to the belief that recognition provides an effective framework for understanding and resolving social conflicts and pathologies. However, the growing interest in recognition has fostered debates over how best to understand the concept of recognition itself, its connection to individual identity and personal development, and its relationship to justice, equality and freedom.

This panel will address these and related issues through an examination of the ethics of recognition. In particular, it addresses how the concept of recognition can help theorists explore the connections between agency, identity and institutions. The organisers welcome papers examining such topics as (but not limited to): (1) our capacity for resisting and transforming recognition relations; (2) how recognition is mediated through social roles and institutions; (3) the ethical issues that arise in our demands for and struggles against recognition; (4) how forms of social and institutional recognition can be revised to render them more ethical and just; (5) the tensions that exist between individual and collective identities, social roles and institutions, and the problems such tensions might pose for recognition theory.


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