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Conceptions of negative liberty invariably refer to the removal of objective hindrances to physical action. Conceptions of positive liberty, by contrast, refer to the provision of goods that facilitate forms of empowerment and capacitation. This chapter argues that some of the goods necessary for empowerment and capacitation are subjective, or psychological, most (if not all) of which depends, in one form or another, on what philosophers since Hegel has dubbed "recognition." This chapter has three parts. Drawing from a sample of recognition theorists (Taylor, Honneth, Habermas, and Pippin), Part One defends the salience of recognition for empowerment, capacitation, and agency. Part two then describes forms of psycho-social pathology (damaged agency) that misrecognition of the absence of recognition typically causes. Part three concludes by defending the psychological and ontological validity of recognition as a coherent dimension of social freedom against some frequently raised objections.
This chapter examines how European thinkers working from within and without the Frankfurt School of critical theory have understood the public sphere as a distinctive political category. First-generation members of the school rejected institutional democracy and mass politics as ideologies that mask domination. The succeeding generation, whose most important representative is Jürgen Habermas, rejected that diagnosis. Habermas’s more optimistic assessment of the emancipatory potential of the public sphere as a medium of rational learning sought a middle ground between critics and defenders of liberal democracy. This ambivalence provoked strong counter-reactions from systems theorists, such as Niklas Luhmann, and from adherents of theories of agonal democracy descended from Carl Schmitt, on the right, and Hannah Arendt, on the Left. As we shall see, these reactions are amplified by those who seek to extend the public sphere beyond the boundaries of the nation state.