Of Gods and Demons: Habermas and Practical Reason
‘Practical questions’, according to Habermas, ‘admit of truth’:1 ‘just (richtige) norms must be capable of being grounded in a similar way to true statements’.2 Truth, on his view, means ‘warranted assertibility’: this is shown when participants enter into a discourse and ‘a consensus can be realized under conditions that identify it as a justified consensus’.3 If, he writes, ‘philosophical ethics and political theory are supposed to disclose the moral core of the general consciousness and to reconstruct it as a normative concept of the moral, then they must specify criteria and provide reasons: they must, that is, produce theoretical knowledge’.4 Thus for Habermas judgements about moral and political questions can be rationally grounded and differences about such questions can be rationally resolved.
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Notes and References
- 8.F. Engels, Anti-Duhring ( Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1959 ).Google Scholar
- 10.L. Trotsky, Their Morals and Ours ( New York: Pathfinder Press, 1972 ) p. 37.Google Scholar
- 11.For this interpretation of Lukacs and Marx, see L. Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism, 3 vols ( Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978 ).Google Scholar
- 12.M. Horkheimer, Critical Theory ( New York: Seabury Press, 1973 ) p. 213.Google Scholar
- 13.J. Habermas, ‘Toward a Theory of Communicative Competence’, Inquiry, 13 (1970) p. 372.Google Scholar
- 22.J. Rawls, A Theory of Justice ( Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972 ) p. 261.Google Scholar
- 27.T. McCarthy, The Critical Theory of Jürgen Habermas ( London: Hutchinson, 1978 ) p. 306.Google Scholar
- 62.L. Kohlberg, ‘Justice as Reversibility’, in Philosophy, Politics and Society, 5th series, ed. P. Laslett and J. Fishkin ( Oxford: Blackwell, 1979 ) p. 266.Google Scholar