A Relational Conception of Justice: The Theory of Recognition and Moral Injury - Proposals for a Practical Evaluative Framework

Creative Commons License

Basilio J. L., Arun M. O.

Anadolu Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, vol.22, no.3, pp.931-954, 2022 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier


Primarily developed within political philosophy, comprehensive theories of justice are often considered abstract and transcendental for sociological, political, or economic applications and thus, often require further conceptual and analytical clarifications. This need is apparent in recognition theory, a contemporary theory of justice pioneered by Axel Honneth. In it, he underlines the importance of recognition in intersubjective and mutual relations with significant others, legal institutions, and wider society, the denial of which leads to particular forms of injustice, conceptualised as moral injuries. To overcome the functional weakness inherent in recognition theory’s relatively abstract nature, this article clarifies the distinction between its “space” and “object” of evaluation to advance its practical usefulness in assessing disadvantage. In doing so, it first examines the theory of recognition as well as the concept of moral injury and addresses issues researchers and practitioners need to be attentive to concerning the categorisation of the good, the promise of recognition, and the pressing problem of unwarranted claims. Having taken these clusters of concerns into account, this article identifies (1) deformative identity formation, (2) invisibilisation, and (3) stigmatization as morally injurious acts and proposes three dimensions of evaluation, namely physical integrity, moral accountability, and personal autonomy, upon which certain forms of injustices that disadvantaged individuals or groups experience can be assessed within the normative framework of the theory of recognition.