Critical Theory, Normativity, and Catastrophe: A Critique of Amy Allen’s Metanormative Contextualism
Critical theory is an approach to philosophical and cultural analysis that focuses on oppression and liberation. In this essay, I consider the prospect of moral-political progress in critical theory, focusing primarily on Amy Allen’s position of metanormative contextualism as described in her 2016 work, "The End of Progress." I first consider Allen’s arguments against Jurgen Habermas' theory of communicative action, and then explore how metanormative contextualism is rooted in the thought of Theodor Adorno and Michel Foucault. Lastly, by showing how postcolonial studies reminds us of the deeply political stakes of critical theory, I argue that ideas about moral-political progress can be grounded in the urgent need to “avoid catastrophe.”
An undergraduate thesis submitted in partial application for the Honors degree in Philosophy.
critical theory; Frankfurt school; Marxism; poststructuralism; postcolonial theory