Normativity and Normalization

  • Dianna Taylor John Carroll University


This article illustrates ways in which the concepts of the norm and normativity are implicated in relations of power. Specifically, I argue that these concepts have come to function in a normalizing manner. I outline Michel Foucault’s thinking on the norm and normalization and then provide an overview of Jürgen Habermas’s thinking on the norm and normativity in order to show that Habermas’s conceptualizations of the norm and normativity are not, as he posits, necessary foundations for ethics and politics, but in fact simply one philosophical approach among many. Uncritically accepting a Habermasian framework therefore produces normalizing effects and inhibits alternative and potentially emancipatory thinking about ethics and politics. Having problematized the requirement of normative foundations as it is currently articulated, I conclude by examining the emancipatory potential of a particular aspect of Foucault’s work for the practice of philosophy.

Author Biography

Dianna Taylor, John Carroll University