chapter  8
Natural necessity and the grounds of justice
Pages 18

We have now considered the three main aims Bhaskar set himself in Dialectic. These were, first, a qualitative development of original critical realism as its dialecticisation; second, a renovation of dialectic on critical realist ground; and third, a metacritique of the general trajectory of western philosophy on the basis of the first and second. In this concluding chapter, I will summarise the overall argument, and focus in particular on the ethical dimension in Bhaskar’s work. I do so because it brings out most clearly the unity of his thought, and highlights its significance for today. In particular, it draws together the fruits of his ethics, explored in Chapter 5, though on the basis of developments explored in previous chapters, and the results of his metacritique, developed in Chapters 6 and 7. The chapter has three main sections, in the first of which I review the account of natural necessity developed in Chapters 1 to 4, and then, in the second, consider the role natural necessity plays in his ethics. In the third section, I consider the effect of thinking about natural necessity in relation to other modern critical ethical theories, and in particular draw on Bhaskar’s metacritique of poststructuralist theory to consider deconstructive ethics. If the first section develops the conception of natural necessity, the second and the third treat this as it relates to establishing the grounds of justice. The second section accordingly picks up the idea from Chapter 5 of the constellated nature of ethics within the historical and political. The argument is that modern ethics involve historically generated and grounded variations on the theme of a relation between ‘the ideal’ and ‘the actual’, where these terms are extruded and limited expressions of an underlying moral truth about the ethical powers and potentials of human being.