Power, Exclusion, and Critique: Between Cognitive Dissonance and the Social Constitution of the Space of Reasons

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 45 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Gianfranco CASUSO, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, Peru
Exclusion is usually understood as the situation of those who are outside of the recognized social order and who struggle to be incorporated into it. However, this dualistic understanding of exclusion as the simple “outer” side of society is a problematic way to critically analyze social orders and to account for the way in which exclusion within those orders is produced. Against the dualistic conception, I will provide an alternative, immanent conception of exclusion, defined not as a peripheral condition, but rather as the counterpart of the exercise of constitutive social power. This reconceptualization of exclusion takes the analysis from a purely phenomenal or ontic level and brings it to a noumenal or ontological one. In connection with this, I will distinguish the latter concept of exclusion from a more limited approach related to the exercise of power over an agent, which has been often used to explain social relations of domination and subordination. By doing so, I try to show that it is possible to speak of exclusion in an immanent way without understanding the excluded as the result or the object of an intentional act of an agent with whom an easily identifiable (and eventually criticizable) dyadic relationship is established. Rather, the immanence of exclusion has to do with the position that agents occupy in a shared social space of reasons which they implicitly make use of, but in whose constitution they have not explicitly participated. In that sense, I intend to explain why the possibility of social criticism is related to some form of cognitive dissonance, that is, to a perceived inconsistency in reference to the agent’s own set of valid beliefs and reasons. Thus, rather than being the object of criticism, this form of exclusion represents an instance which enables immanent social critique.