This article investigates a significant problem in contemporary critical theory, namely its failure to address effectively the possibility that a campaign of political violence may be a legitimate means of fighting grave injustice. Having offered a working definition of ‘political violence’, I argue that critical theory should be focused on experiences of injustice rather than on ideals of justice. I then explore the reasons as to why, save for some intriguing remarks on retrospective legitimation, Jürgen Habermas has not addressed this issue directly. While Axel Honneth's recognition theory may have greater potential here, the absence of explicit consideration of the matter by him leaves considerable work to do. I introduce five questions in the concluding section that provide a starting point in setting out an appropriately stringent, normative test for claims that support violent action against injustice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science