The Social Ethics of Agnes Heller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Heller’s trilogy developing a theory of social ethics is grounded in the decisive question of how good persons are possible. She disavows an abstract ethics of rules, so she does not build an ethical system but observes the lives of good persons. She focuses on healthy everyday lives rather than constructing an essentialist human nature. The key issue in social ethics is dynamic justice with three dimensions: (a) optimal possibility for developing natural capacities to the maximum, (b) active involvement as a citizen, and (c) emotional intensity in close personal attachments. She refuses to discount the rational and radical and contributes a fresh understanding of emancipatory praxis to social justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-428
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Inquiry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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