The Sociology of Critical Capacity

This article argues that many situations in social life can be analyzed by their requirement for the justification of action. It is in particular in situations of dispute that a need arises to explicate the grounds on which responsibility for errors is distributed and on which new agreement can be reached. Since a plurality of mutually incompatible modes of justification exists, disputes can be understood as disagreements either about whether the accepted rule of justification has not been violated or about which mode of justification to apply at all. The article develops a grammar of such modes of justification, called orders of worth and argues that the human capacity for criticism becomes visible in the daily occurrence of disputes over criteria for justification. At the same time, it is underlined that not all social situations can be interpreted with the help of such a sense of justice, which resides on a notion of equivalence. Regimes of love, of violence or of familiarity are systematically distinct from regimes of justification.

Released: Replika 62, 39–55.
Ágoston Fáber, Imre Szabó