Overcoming Social Pathologies in Education: On the Concept of Respect in R. S. Peters and Axel Honneth


Correspondence: Krassimir Stojanov, Bundeswehr University of Munich, Werner-Heisenberg-Weg 39, D-8577 Neubiberg, Germany.
E-mail: krassimir.stojanov@unibw.de


The concept of respect plays a central role in several recent attempts to re-actualise the programme of a critical social theory. In Axel Honneth's most prominent version of that concept, respect is closely tied to the sphere of law, and it is limited to the recognition of a Kantian-type moral autonomy of the individual. So interpreted, the concept of respect can only have a very limited application in the field of education, where concern for the particular desires, intentions and beliefs of mostly immature persons is at stake.

However, more than forty years ago R. S. Peters did develop an extended concept of respect as a central component in education. This concept focuses exactly on those desires, intentions and beliefs, instead of on the very demanding capability of practical reasoning orientated towards the Kantian Categorical Imperative. My task in this paper is to explore the potential of Peters' concept of respect for the identification and description of educational pathologies and ultimately for the founding of a critical theory of education.