Habermas, Kantian pragmatism, and truth

Philosophy and Social Criticism 36 (6):677-695 (2010)
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In his book Truth and Justification Habermas replaces his long-held discourse-theoretic conception of truth with what he calls a pragmatic theory of truth. Instead of taking truth to originate in the communicative interactions between subjects, this new theory ties truth to the action contexts of the lifeworld, contexts where the existence of the world is ratified in practice. This, Habermas argues, overcomes the relativism and contextualism endemic to the linguistic turn. This article has two goals: (1) to chart in detail how Habermas’ new theory of truth overcomes relativism and contextualism; and (2) to argue for the thesis that Habermas’ specific way of meeting this objective is flawed insofar as he resists relativism and contextualism by yoking truth to a concept of objectivity that is not consistent with the larger pragmatic transformation of his thought



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Steven Levine
University of Massachusetts, Boston

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