social pathology, education, justice, injustice, freedom, Axel Honneth, critique of justice, social critique, critical race theory

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Research Article


For Axel Honneth, not all social problems can be understood as injustices. Therefore, he introduces the additional diagnostic concept of social pathology. In his book Freedom’s Right (FR), it is defined as an accumulation of persons’ inability to adequately participate in social institutions due to misunderstanding them. In contrast, injustices consist in the denial of access to social institutions for certain groups. According to the aim of presenting an ‘extended’ theory of justice in FR, Honneth intends to reconstruct all institutions necessary for realizing individual freedom in a liberal-democratic society. Like in the historical model of his project (Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right), educational institutions, in particular schools, are neglected. I explore how this neglect is related to the supplementation of ‘injustice’ with ‘social pathology’. My claim is that at least regarding some instances of social pathology, the wrong they describe should be reformulated as an educational injustice. Beyond a critique of Honneth, the paper contributes to the debates about the limits of the concept of justice and the role of education for justice. Additionally, I discuss an example of an educational injustice, namely the exclusion of critical race theory from school curricula in Texas.




June 14, 2022


May 9, 2023