European Journal of Social Theory 24 (4):526-544 (2021)

Abstract
Realists and supporters of ‘democratic underlabouring’ have recently challenged the traditional separation between political theory and practice. Although both attack Jürgen Habermas for being an idealist whose philosophy is too removed from politics, I argue that this interpretation is inaccurate. While Habermas’s social and political theory is indeed oriented to truth and understanding, he has sought realize his communicative conception of democracy by increasing the quality of political debate as a public intellectual. Building on his approach, I argue that giving the theorist a direct role in public policy undermines theory as an enterprise oriented towards truth while overlooking the contingency, participatory nature and complicated internal logics of social and political practice. My basic thesis is that Habermas’s understanding of the relationship between theory and practice overcomes these difficulties by providing an account of theory that is independent but simultaneously also allows philosophers to participate in politics as public intellectuals.
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DOI 10.1177/13684310211003192
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Philosophy and Real Politics.Raymond Geuss - 2008 - Princeton University Press.

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