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Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right offers an innovative and important account of normativity, yet the theory set forth there rests on philosophical foundations that have remained largely obscure. In Hegel’s Theory of Normativity, Kevin Thompson proposes an interpretation of the foundations that underlie Hegel’s theory: its method of justification, its concept of freedom, and its account of right. Thompson shows how the systematic character of Hegel’s project together with the metaphysical commitments that follow from its method are essential to secure this theory against the challenges of skepticism and to understand its distinctive contribution to questions regarding normative justification, practical agency, social ontology, and the nature of critique.
About the Author
KEVIN THOMPSON is an associate professor of philosophy at DePaul University.
"Kevin Thompson’s book is a remarkably clear and precise contribution to Hegelian studies. The main aim of the text is to analyse Hegel’s philosophy of right in the light of its systematic framework, dwelling mostly on the paragraphs of the ‘Introduction’ to the Elements of the Philosophy of the Right and the pages of the 1817 Encyclopaedia that provide their systematic background. Even though this is an old problem, in recent years it has been treated only selectively; Thompson, by contrast, analyses the issue in a philologically meticulous and theoretically competent way, providing arguments with which future works on Hegel’s philosophy of right must necessarily deal . . . The clarity and readability of Thompson’s prose, as well as the detailed reconstruction of notoriously difficult texts, make it a valuable contribution not only for Hegel scholars, but also for all those interested in what we could call practical meta-philosophy.” —Hegel Bulletin
“Kevin Thompson’s book is a well-written and thought-provoking study of Hegel’s theory of normativity. The book highlights with clarity, precision, and palpable intellectual energy what is original in Hegel’s theory, and in so doing provides a fine introduction to Hegel’s political thought for newcomers, as well as an insightful and challenging interpretation for those already familiar with Hegel’s philosophy.” —Stephen Houlgate, author of The Opening of Hegel’s Logic: From Being to Infinity and editor of Hegel and the Arts
"This study focuses on a problem that is pervasive in social, political, and ethical situations, what justifies the norms according to which we judge what is right. Thompson develops a clear, tightly organized, textually correct analysis of Hegel’s systematic procedure to show what an unshakeable justification of social norms requires. In the process, he challenges with good evidence some of the most influential interpretations of Hegel’s political theory." —Ardis Collins, author of Hegel's Phenomenology: The Dialectical Justification of Philosophy's First Principles
“An exciting contribution to the Hegel-Renaissance in the United States, especially to the return of Hegel's practical philosophy.” —Klaus Vieweg, author of Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes and Skepsis und Freiheit - Hegel über den Skeptizismus zwischen Literatur und Philosophie
"Hegel's Theory of Normativity is distinctive in defending a systematic, metaphysical account of Hegel’s practical philosophy. This is an engaging and well-conceived work." —Timothy L. Brownlee, Xavier University
"Thompson has done a superb job of clearly explaining some of the more difficult aspects of Hegel. His book will prove most useful to researchers of Hegel and German idealism, but also to those working on questions of normativity more broadly. Recommended." —Choice
". . . remarkable in its attempt to elucidate passages of the Philosophy of Right that are rarely grappled with by commentators. Indeed, in a time when Hegel’s social and political philosophy is sometimes simply mined for relevant philosophical and sociological insights that can be abstracted from the rest of the Hegelian system, Thompson provides an important counterbalance, reminding us that Hegel is not, or at least not only, a philosophically minded social theorist, but a systematic philosopher of right." —Thimo Heisenberg, SGIR Review