Why we need to avoid theorizing about rationality: A Putnamian criticism of Habermas's epistemology

Social Epistemology 16 (2):117 – 131 (2001)
  Copy   BIBTEX


It is contended that Jurgen Habermas's (1972, 1984) attempts to overcome the problems that positivist thought has caused for theorizing rationality has actually exacerbated positivism's negative effects on conceptualizing rational thought. An overview of Hilary Putnam's (1981) examination of logical positivism's understanding of rationality is presented, emphasizing that positivist approaches toward theorizing rationality are essentially self-refuting in nature since they utilize a metaphysical perspective. Potential objections to the delineation of logical positivism's account of rationality as self-refuting are addressed. Habermas' analysis of positivism's influence on rationality & his concept of communicative competence are then reviewed. Examination of Habermas' attempt to establish a "universal pragmatics" & his contention that validity claims are rationalized through argumentative discourse is performed, leading to the conclusion that such theorizing of rationality is ultimately metaphysical in nature. Treatments of rationality that attempt to impart a comprehensive account of rationality are deemed unintelligible; consequently, it is maintained that all-encompassing delineations of rationality should be avoided in order to produce viable theories of rational thought.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,069

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

A critique of Habermas' theory of practical rationality.Nader Saiedi - 1987 - Studies in East European Thought 33 (3):251-265.
Habermas II.David Rasmussen & James Swindal (eds.) - 2009 - Los Angeles: SAGE.
Marcuse or Habermas: Two critiques of technology.Andrew Feenberg - 1996 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 39 (1):45 – 70.
Habermas and Kant: Judgement and communicative experience.Ståle R. S. Finke - 2000 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 26 (6):21-45.
Rationality and social criticism: Habermas, Foucault, and beyond.PʻyŏNg-Jung Yun - 1989 - Chuncheon, Korea: Kangweon National University Press.
Feminism and Habermas' discourse ethics.Johanna Meehan - 2000 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 26 (3):39-52.
Rejecting theorizing in philosophy: The urgency of Putnamian dialectic.Louise Cummings - 2002 - Journal of Speculative Philosophy 16 (2):117-141.


Added to PP

24 (#574,772)

6 months
1 (#1,087,801)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Louise Cummings
Hong Kong Polytechnic University