Critical Social Ontology as a Foundation for Ethics: Marx, Lukács and Critical Judgment


  • Michael J. Thompson William Paterson University



In this paper, I outline a theory of critical social ontology derived from the fundamental ideas of Marx and the later work on the ontology of social being by Georg Lukács. I argue that we can discern categories of social being that can aid in the project of diagnostic social critique, but also that these categories can be used to formulate an ethical theory that we can ground in this critical social ontology. I therefore defend the thesis, against postmetaphysical thinkers that have argued to the contrary, that a satisfactory and critical theory of ethics can and indeed must be rooted in a theory of ontology. I end with some reflections on how critical social ontology can help combat the problem of reification and help us think through issues of ethical or normative concern.

Author Biography

Michael J. Thompson, William Paterson University

Michael J. Thompson is Professor of Political Theory in the Dept. Political Science, William Paterson University (USA). He is the author of The Domestication of Critical Theory (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016) as well as the forthcoming The Specter of Babel: A Reconstruction of Political Judgment (SUNY Press, 2020) as well as an edited volume, Georg Lukács and the Possibility of Critical Social Ontology (Brill, 2019).



How to Cite

Thompson, M. J. (2019) “Critical Social Ontology as a Foundation for Ethics: Marx, Lukács and Critical Judgment”, Studies in Social and Political Thought, 29(Summer), pp. 8-26. doi: 10.20919/sspt.29.2019.116.