Reply to Alison Laywine


HENRY E. ALLISON | Kant’s Transcendental Deduction. An Analytical-Historical Commentary | Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015


By Henry Allison

At the close of her comments, Alison Laywine notes that she “had the luxury of focusing on just […] one” aspect of my book and she chose my conception of a normative necessity. Assuming that a respondent should focus on a single aspect of a work under discussion, she has certainly chosen correctly, since this is a focal point of my account. Accordingly, I gladly accept her invitation to say more on the topic, and I am grateful for the opportunity that this has provided to clarify my view.

To begin with, by normative necessity I understand the kind of necessity that Kant attributes to empirical judgements or, in the language of the Prolegomena, to judgements of experience. That Kant attributes a kind of necessity to such judgements, despite their empirical or a posteriori grounding is indisputable.  For example, in a passage cited by Laywine, Kant writes: Read more

Henry Pickford on Martin Shuster’s “Autonomy After Auschwitz”


MARTIN SHUSTER | Autonomy after Auschwitz: Adorno, German Idealism, and Modernity | Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014


By Henry Pickford

Martin Shuster’s Autonomy after Auschwitz is an ambitious and impressive work, from which I have learned a great deal. It is ambitious because it aims to situate Adorno’s thought within both specific contexts of the German Idealist tradition (Kant’s theoretical and practical philosophy, Hegel’s philosophy of history) and within a certain region of contemporary Anglophone philosophy oriented around Wittgenstein and neo-Aristotelianism.[1] Shuster’s work is impressive not least because of the extent to which those ambitions are realised. The book undertakes not only a novel and expansive reading of Adorno’s practical and moral philosophy in relation to Kant, on the one hand, and Cavell, on the other, but also a careful exposition of Kant’s changing conception of the highest good within his rational theology, and a re-interpretation of Hegel’s philosophy of history to complement Adorno’s moral theory. My focus here will be on a central line of argument that connects Chapter 1 to Chapter 3 and centers on autonomy, agency and action. Shuster reads Horkheimer and Adorno as claiming that Kantian autonomy itself undermines agency, and then reconstructs Adorno’s moral theory as a response to that deficiency. Shuster and I first discussed these issues on a panel at the meeting of the Association for Adorno Studies in New York City in October 2015, and again on a panel at the Pacific conference of the American Philosophical Association in April 2016; I want to thank him for his clarifications at those events, and for continuing the conversation now. Read more

Reply to Christian Skirke


FABIAN FREYENHAGEN | Adorno’s Practical Philosophy: Living Less Wrongly | Cambridge University Press 2013


By Fabian Freyenhagen

Hegel’s insight that work involves becoming objectified in the world and that these objectifications can take on a life of their own is apt for books too. Authors are accordingly thankful for the occasions to reappropriate their objectifications by way of replying to reviewers and critics. Skirke’s generous and thoughtful critical note on my Adorno’s Practical Philosophy (henceforth APP) is a particularly welcome occasion of this kind. My thanks to him (and also to the editors of this journal).

Skirke takes issue with two central aspects of my defence of Adorno. First, he notes that I ascribe an explanatory account of normativity to Adorno (see APP, especially ch. 7). He agrees that this is, indeed, the right approach, but criticises my interpretation for not living up sufficiently to this explanatory character. This is so in two ways:
(a) “the explanatory component enters the picture as a supplement to moral claims”, rather than as presenting a “view of Adornian moral claims as integrally explanatory”; Read more

Christian Skirke on Fabian Freyenhagen’s “Adorno’s Practical Philosophy”


FABIAN FREYENHAGEN | Adorno’s Practical Philosophy: Living Less Wrongly | Cambridge University Press 2013


By Christian Skirke

Fabian Freyenhagen’s masterful book, Adorno’s Practical Philosophy, offers an exceptionally clear and philosophically rich defence of Adorno’s perspective on ethics. I have great sympathies for Freyenhagen’s project; and, given the depth and detail of his book, writing a critical review of it is an especially challenging and rewarding task.

In what follows, I want to take issue with two central aspects of Freyenhagen’s defence of Adorno. First, he provides a metaethical argument which centrally involves the claim that Adorno’s perspective on ethics is explanatory; it is in light of this claim that Adorno’s perspective is said to amount to an ethical minimalism which provides us with better explanations than other views for the moral challenges we face under difficult historical circumstances. And Freyenhagen contends, second, that this ethical minimalism is best brought home, at the level of normative ethical theorising, as a negative Aristotelianism. Read more