Presentation on theme: "Jürgen Habermas The Theory of Communicative Action (1981)"— Presentation transcript:
1 Jürgen Habermas The Theory of Communicative Action (1981) Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action (1983/ tr 1995)Postmetaphysical Thinking (1988)Dialektik der Säkularisierung. Über Vernunft und Religion (with Joseph Ratzinger (2005) English: The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion)
2 General characteristics Continues and reconstructs Enlightenment ideals (of political emancipation and democracy)vs relativismpractical, pragmatic, procedural, formal  – find solutions to normative problems in discourse / communicationAn analysis of communicative structuresWe need to identify and reconstruct the universal conditions of possible understandingcommunicative action, the process of giving and criticizing reasons for holding or rejecting particular claimslanguage cannot be comprehended unless an understanding is achieved in it- not settling the issue of ‘the good life’ (impossible with pluralism), but justice there is an irreducible plurality of 'goods'; this conditions and limits moral conversationSo a non-moral sense of ethics.
3 General characteristics What do we have?A development and reformulation of Kant’s insights “a deontological ethics” a 'dialogical form of practical reason'validity of a norm is justified only intersubjectively in processes of argumentation between individuals; in a dialectic.in search of a rational founding (Begrundung) of propositionsNeeds a ‘life-world of a specific social group’ attempt to bridge the gap between "is" and "ought"
4 1. - rationality is a characteristic of all human beings assumptions1. - rationality is a characteristic of all human beings2. - freedom is a characteristic of all human beings [leads to autonomy]this is the basis of reciprocity (why others count) and its emanicipatory character (as being critical of established authority)3, - equality4. - therefore, all issues (incl. moral problems) are capable of being solved in a rational and cognitive way5. - the existence of some universal claims and therefore the importance of universal norms;[leads to democracy, based on consent]6. rationality capable, through discourse, of arriving at universal norms.7. - (from 3) We need to take into consideration the viewpoints of all who would be affected by the adoption of normative claims
5 the principle of discourse ethics (D) stipulates: “a [moral] norm may claim validity [to be justified] only if all who might be affected by it reach (or would reach) [in their capacity] as participants in a practical discourse, agreement that this norm is valid ” (J. Habermas, "Discourse Ethics: Notes on a Program of Philosophical Justification," Cambridge, MIT Press 1990, p. 71).the principle of universalization (U)A norm is valid only if "all concerned [affected] can accept the consequences and the side affects its universal observance can be anticipated to have for the satisfaction for everyone's interests (and that these consequences are preferred to those of known alternative possibilities for regulation)." (p. 71)"unless all affected can freely accept the consequences and the side effects that the general observance of a controversial norm can be expected to have for the satisfaction of the interests of each individual" (see p. ___; Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, p. 93).
6 Why universality?“Every person who accepts the universal and necessary communicative presuppositions of argumentative speech and who knows what I means to justify a norm of action implicitly presupposes as valid the principle of universalisation,…”- Habermas, Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, MIT Press, 1995, p. 86.
7 Specific ‘normative’ assumptions / “rules of the game” Habermas (1990) / Robert Alexy :Level 1: logical-semantic rules of argumentation (no ethical content) : [p. 84]UnderstandabilityNon-contradiction (1.1) No speaker may contradict himself.Consistency (1.2) Every speaker who applies predicate F to object A must be prepared to apply F to all other objects resembling A in all relevant aspects.No Equivocation (1.3) Different speakers may not use the same expression with different meanings (p. 87).
8 Specific ‘normative’ assumptions / “rules of the game” Habermas (1990) / Alexy :Level 2: the rules of jurisdiction and relevance (have ethical import and content) [p. 85]Sincerity / Seriousness / Authenticity [Ernsthaftigkeit],(2.1) Every speaker may assert only what he really believes.Legitimacy(2.2) A person who disputes a proposition or norm not under discussion must provide a reason for wanting to do so (p.88).
9 Specific ‘normative’ assumptions / “rules of the game” Habermas (1990) / Alexy :Level 3: Ideal Speech Situation [p. 86]Openness / Freedom from Constraint and Coercion(3.1) Every subject with the competence to speak and act is allowed to take part in a discourse.(3.2) a. Everyone is allowed to question any assertion whatever.b. Everyone is allowed to introduce any assertion whatever into the discourse.c. Everyone is allowed to express his attitudes, desires and needs.(3.3) No speaker may be prevented, by internal or external coercion, from exercising his rights as laid down in (3.1) and (3.2) (p. 88).
10 Consensus = “all affected can freely accept the consequences and the side effects that the general observance of a controversial norm can be expected to have for the satisfaction of the interests of each individual.”
11 Discourse Ethics and Solidarity these procedural rules must be complemented by a sense of solidarity among participants (i.e., concern for the well-being of both one's fellow human beings and of the community at large)"Justice conceived in postconventional terms [a Kohlbergian reference] can converge with solidarity, as its other side, only when solidarity has been transformed in the light of the idea of a general, discursive formation of will."Discourse Ethics and Democracythe general conditions of the ideal speech situation and the rules of reason, coupled with this sense of solidarity, describe the necessary conditions of democratic polity.these conditions and rules establish the legitimacy of pluralism.
12 There can be rightness and wrongness “I hold the view that normative rightness must be regarded as a claim to validity that is analogous to a truth claim. This notion is captured by the term “ cognitivist ethics .” A cognitivist ethics must answer the question of how to justify normative statements….. Only those norms may claim to be valid that could meet with the consent of all affected in their role as participants in a practical discourse….. For a norm to be valid, the consequences and side effects of its general observance for the satisfaction of each person's particular interests must be acceptable to all.” (“Morality and Ethical Life”, in MCCA, p. 197)
13 Advantages:Useful; provides a (communicative) framework in which political and (some) moral conflicts can be resolvedPresence of rationality, freedom, equalityNon-relativistic (right & wrong)UniversalizableConsistent with solidarity and democracy
14 Limited in extent Limited in scope Individualistic Naively idealistic self-understanding and self-determination not included in moral theoryLimited in scopeDoes not give norms for every moral conflict that might ariseIndividualisticindividual participantstries to avoid this through ‘generalization’ – Is this possible?Naively idealisticassumes that human beings have capacities that they don’t have; people are incapable of being objective and rational in dialogue
15 Too much or too little Kantianism InconsistentToo vaguerightness defined in terms of “worthiness”Too narrowapplies in some situations with a practical resolution (e.g., conflict resolution)Too much or too little Kantianismhas Habermas adequately defended universalization as necessary/required for argumentation?do we need universalization?Does it apply to all discourses?No; not comprehensive doctrines / religious ones;Question-begging or too narrow?assumes that some “reasons” (public reasons) are superior to others