The actor does not judge: Hannah Arendt’s theory of judgement

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Hannah Arendt’s conceptualization of political judgement has been a source of much scholarly investigation and debate in recent decades. Underlying the debate is the assumption that at least in her early writings, Arendt had an actor’s theory of judgement. In this article I challenge this common assumption. As I attempt to demonstrate, it relies on a misunderstanding, not only of Arendt’s conception of judgement, but also of her conception of agents in the public realm. Once we discard the assumption of an actor’s theory of judgement, I argue, some important issues in Arendt’s theory of judgement are resolved, enabling us to perceive it as a unified, rather than selfcontradictory, theory of judgement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-741
Number of pages15
JournalPhilosophy and Social Criticism
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2015.


  • Action
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Judgement
  • Phronesis
  • Spectators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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