Beyond instrumental rationality. For a critical theory of freedom


  • Jana Katharina Funk University of Bamberg



human freedom, rationalization, instrumental rationality, value rationality, critical theory, critique of capitalism


This article will provide an illustration of Max Weber’s theory of rationalization with a specific impetus on its interdependency with the development of capitalism. Following Horkheimer, I shall critically draw on Weber to outline a theory of human freedom, showing that rationalization not only implies economic and social liberation but entails a totalizing tendency that invades all spheres of socio-political life including people’s mental infrastructure. This mental colonization can be framed as a process of substituting value rationality with instrumental rationality. I will claim that this substitution can be understood as an impediment for human freedom. Following contemporary theories of action (Anscombe, Foot), I will show the centrality of value orientation for understanding human freedom. Therefore, I propose a critical theory of freedom that centers value rational action as realization of freedom and can be understood as emancipative.

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Author Biography

Jana Katharina Funk, University of Bamberg

Is a doctoral student at the University of Bamberg, Germany. She studied Philosophy, Political Science and Asian Studies in Berlin, New Delhi and Bamberg. During her investigation, she was a visiting scholar at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina and at De Paul University, Chicago. She is interested in questions of global justice, liberal theory, moral theory and feminist studies. 



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How to Cite

Funk, J. K. (2021). Beyond instrumental rationality. For a critical theory of freedom. Estudios De Filosofía, (63), 91–108.



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