TRAMES 1, 4, 2000


Juha Räikkä

University of Turku

Abstract. In this paper I will analyse the notion of social criticism. I will follow a three-step strategy. First, I will distinguish between three types of social criticism that I take to be the main ways of practising social criticism. Second, I will briefly review a particular debate concerning the notion of social criticism. Third, a suggestion for the definition of 'social criticism' is given. According to that definition, social criticism refers to a public argumentative practice where a citizen's primary interest is to convince people by a moral argument of the justifiability of a practical solution to some contestable social question that she thinks is right or that is recommended by the institution she represents. I will defend the definition that is put forth and explicate its implications. My overall motivation to study the notion of social criticism comes from a conviction that 'social criticism' is an important and useful concept since it helps us to clarify the muddy waters between pure politics and political theory.

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