Justice in education and recognitive justice

  • Teemu Eino Petteri Hanhela University of Oulu, Faculty of Education


This paper focuses on a topical issue - the idea of ‘justice in education’ – developed by Krassimir Stojanov, among other recent educational justice theorists. Justice in education has to ask ‘educational questions about education’, which means that educational justice theory should be capable of dealing with educational practices, and constellations that are asymmetrical interaction orders. This requires, from the perspective of a child, criteria to distinguish between justified and unjustified educative demands towards responsibility and autonomy. This paper analyses forms of recognition as a legitimate summons that enables the individual’s autonomy. It also analyses the illegitimate demands that emerge from Stojanov’s innovative idea to combine the forms of misrecognition with the concepts of epistemic injustice.

   The second chapter of this paper introduces the challenges related to the recognitive justice as justice in education. The examination of Dietrich Benner’s recent critique of recognition theory illuminates these challenges in two ways: first, it is shown that there can be something negatively experienced, but the result of productive disruptions that the educator need to produce, which are out of the scope of recognition theory. Second, the recognitive justice paradigm ignores elementary pedagogical conditions and requirements, ‘the pedagogical knowledge’ and its methods, and is therefore unable to fully grasp the legitimate educational authority. This paper concludes with a synthesis that finds the crucial elements from the recognition theory to justice in education and critically assessing Benner’s claims. Overall, the paper offers potential for further development in justice in education.


Elisabeth Anderson. “Fair Opportunity in Education: A Democratic Equality Perspective,” Ethics 117, no.4 (July 2007): 595–622, https://doi.org/10.1086/518806.
Miriam Bankovsky. “Social justice: Defending Rawls’ theory of justice against Honneth’s objections,” Philosophy & Social Criticism 37, no. 1 (Jan 2011): 95–118, https://doi.org/10.1177/0191453710384363.
Jessica Benjamin. The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and the Problem of Domination (New York: Pantheon Books, 1988).
Dietrich Benner. Allgemeine Pädagogik. Eine systematisch-problemgeschichtliche Einführung in die Grundstruktur pädagogischen Denkens und Handelns (Weinheim, München: Juventa Verlag, 2005).
———. Bildungstheorie und Bildungsforschung. Grundlagenreflexionen und Anwendungsfelder (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2011).
———. “Über Anerkennung und Macht in pädagogischen Kontexten,” in: Zwischenwelten der Pädagogik, eds. Christiane Thompson and Sabrina Schenk, (Leiden: Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh, 2017), 139–155.
Pierre Bourdieu, Jean-Claude Passeron, and Richard Nice. Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture. (London: Sage, 1990).
Harry Brighouse and Ingrid Robeyns. Measuring Justice: Primary Goods and Capabilities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift. “The Place of Educational Equality in Educational Justice,” in Education, justice and the human good. Fairness and equality in the education system, ed. Kirsten Meyer (Oxon, New York, NY: Routledge, 2014), 14–34.
John Calvert. “Educational Equality: Luck Egalitarian, Pluralist and Complex,” Journal of Philosophy of Education 48, no. 1 (22 November 2013): 69–85, https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9752.12048.
John Dewey. How we think: a restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process (Lexington, Mass.: D C Heath & Co, 1933).
John Dewey, Jo Ann Boydston, Patricia Baysinger, and Barbara Levine. The Middle Works of John Dewey: 1899-1924. Volume 9, Democracy and Education, 1916 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1980).
Johannes Drerup. “The Politics of the Level Playing field. Equality of Opportunities and Educational Justice,” in Justice, Education and the Politics of Childhood: Challenges and Perspectives, eds. Johannes Drerup, Gunter Graf, Christoph Schickhardt and Gottfried Schweiger (Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2016), 115–136.
Émile Durkheim. Moral Education: A Study in the Theory & Application of the Sociology of Education (New York: Free Press, 1973).
Andrea, R. English. Discontinuity in Learning. Dewey, Herbart, and Education as Transformation, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
Rainer Forst. Justice, Democracy and the Right to Justification. Rainer Forst in Dialogue. (London: Bloomsbury, 2014).
Michel Foucault. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (London: Tavistock Publication, 1970).
Miranda Fricker, Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
Johannes Giesinger. “Educational justice and the justification of education,” in Education, justice and the human good. Fairness and equality in the education system, ed. Kirsten Meyer (Oxon, New York, NY: Routledge, 2014), 65–79.
Amy Gutmann. Democratic education: with a new preface and epilogue (New Jersey; Princeton University Press, 1999).
Stefan Hahn. “Wissenschaftspropädeutik in der gymnasialen Oberstufe,“ in Standardisierung in der gymnasialen Oberstufe, eds. Bosse D., Eberle F., Schneider-Taylor B (Springer VS, Wiesbaden, 2013), 161–174, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-00658-7_10.
Axel Honneth. The Critique of Power. Reflective Stages in a Critical Social Theory (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1991), 99–176.
———. “The Limits of Liberalism: On the Political-Ethical Discussion On Communitarianism,” Thesis Eleven 28, no. 1 (Feb 1991): 27–9, https://doi.org/10.1177/072551369102800103.
———. Axel Honneth. The Struggle for Recognition: The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995).
———. “Democracy as reflexive cooperation. John Dewey and the theory of democracy today,” Political Theory 26 no. 6 (Dec 1998): 763–83, https://doi.org/10.1177/0090591798026006001.
———. Disrespect. The Normative Foundations of Critical Theory (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007), 80–96.
———. “Reification and Recognition: A New Look at an Old Idea,” in Reification: A new look at an old idea, eds. Judith Butler, Raymond Geuss, Martin Jay and Jonathan Lear, (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 16–94.
———. The I in We. Studies in the Theory of recognition. (UK, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012).
———. Freedom’s Right. The Social Foundations of Democratic Life (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013).
———. “Education and the Democratic Public Sphere: A Neglected Chapter of Political Philosophy,” in Recognition and Freedom. Axel Honneth’s Political Thought, eds. Jonas Jakobsen and Odin Lysaker (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 17–33.
———. The Idea of Socialism (Malden, Mass.: Polity Press, 2016).
———. “Beyond the law: A response to William Scheuerman,” Constellations 24 no.1 (March 2017): 126–132, https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8675.12272.
Heikki Ikäheimo.”Making The Best What We Are: Recognition as an Ontological and Ethical Concept,” in The Philosophy of Recognition: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, eds. Schmidt am Busch, Hans-Christoph, and Christopher F. Zurn. (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2010), 350–53.
Timo Jütten. “Is the Market a Sphere of Social Freedom?,” Critical Horizons 16, no. 2 (May 2015): 187–203, https://doi.org/10.1179/1440991715Z.00000000047.
Immanuel Kant, On Education, Trans. Annette Churton. (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1992).
Immanuel Kant, Allen W. Wood, and Jerome B. Schneewind. Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), xviii.
Antti Kauppinen. ”Reason, recognition, and internal critique,” Inquiry, 45 no. 4 (Nov 2010): 479–498, https://doi.org/10.1080/002017402320947568.
Arto Laitinen and Arvi Särkelä. “Four conceptions of social pathology,” European Journal of Social Theory 22, no. 1 (2019): 80–102, https://doi.org/10.1177/1368431018769593.
Meira Levinson. “Theorizing Educational Justice,” (Paper presented at the International Conference on Affective, Moral, and Civic Education, University of Montreal, Canada 20-22 May 2015): 1–17, https://www.scribd.com/document/334362309/Levinson-Theorizing-Educational-Justice-CIDE.
Christopher Martin. “When the ideal of liberal egalitarianism meets the fact of austerity: reorienting philosophical perspectives on educational policy,” Journal of Education Policy, 30 no. 2 (June 2014): 201–219, https://doi.org/10.1080/02680939.2014.943297.
George, Herbert, Mead, and Morris, Charles, William. Mind, Self and Society: From the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist. (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1962).
Michael Nance. “Honneth’s Democratic Sittlichkeit and Market Socialism,” (paper presented at the conference on Anerkennung und Sozialismus at the Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main July 18, 2014): 1–26.
John Rawls. A Theory of Justice (London: Oxford University Press, 1973).
———. Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001).
Jörg Schaub. “Misdevelopments, Pathologies, and Normative Revolutions: Normative Reconstruction as Method of Critical Theory,” Critical Horizons 16 no. 2 (May 2015): 107–130, https://doi.org/10.1179/1440991715Z.00000000043.
Krassimir Stojanov. Bildungsgerechtigkeit. Rekonstruktionen eines umkämpften Begriffs (Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, 2011).
———. “Educational Justice as Respect Egalitarianism,” Critique and Humanism Journal, 46, no. 2 (2016): 249–260. ISSN:0861-1718.
———. “Educational justice and transnational migration,” Journal of Global Ethics 14, no. 1 (Aug. 2018): 34–46, https://doi.org/ 10.1080/17449626.2018.1498370
Hanhela, T. (2020). Justice in education and recognitive justice. Studier I Pædagogisk Filosofi, 7(2), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.7146/spf.v7i2.117454
Artikler uden for tema