02. Social Pathologies, Reflexive Pathologies, and the Idea of Higher-Order Disorders


  • Arto Laitinen University of Tampere




This paper critically examines Christopher Zurn’s suggestion mentioned above that various social pathologies (pathologies of ideological recognition, maldistribution, invisibilization, rationality distortions, reification and institutionally forced self-realization) share the structure of being ‘second-order disorders’: that is, that they each entail ‘constitutive disconnects between first-order contents and secondorder reflexive comprehension of those contents, where those disconnects are pervasive and socially caused’ (Zurn, 2011, 345-346). The paper argues that the cases even as discussed by Zurn do not actually match that characterization, but that it would be premature to conclude that they are not thereby social pathologies, or that they do not have a structure in common. It is just that the structure is more complex than originally described, covering pervasive socially caused evils (i) in the social reality, (ii) in the first order experiences and understandings, (iii) in the second order reflection as discussed by Zurn, and also (iv) in the ‘third order’ phenomenon concerning the pre-emptive silencing or nullification of social criticism even before it takes place


Author Biography

Arto Laitinen, University of Tampere

Arto Laitinen (arto.laitinen@uta.fi) is Professor of Social Philosophy at University of Tampere.


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How to Cite

Laitinen, A. (2015) “02. Social Pathologies, Reflexive Pathologies, and the Idea of Higher-Order Disorders”, Studies in Social and Political Thought, 250. doi: 10.20919/sspt.25.2015.48.