In this important volume Habermas outlines the views which form the basis of his critical theory of modern societies. The volume comprises five interlocking essays, which together define the contours of his theory of communication and of his substantive account of social change. ′What is Universal Pragmatics?′ is the best available statement of Habermas′s programme for a theoryof communication based on the analysis of speech acts. In the following two essays Habermas draws on the work of Kohlberg and others to (...) develop a distinctive account of moral consciousness and normative structures. ′Toward a Reconstruction of historical Materialsim′ takes these issues further, offering a wide–ranging reconstruction of Marx′s historical materialsim understood as a theory of social evolution. The final essay focuses on the question of legitimacy and on the legitimation problems faced by modern states. This book is essential reading for anyone concerned with the key questions of social and political theory today. (shrink)
In an exciting study of ideas accompanying the rise of the West, Thomas McCarthy analyzes the ideologies of race and empire that were integral to European-American expansion. He highlights the central role that conceptions of human development played in answering challenges to legitimacy through a hierarchical ordering of difference. Focusing on Kant and natural history in the eighteenth century, Mill and social Darwinism in the nineteenth, and theories of development and modernization in the twentieth, he proposes a critical theory of (...) development which can counter contemporary neoracism and neoimperialism, and can accommodate the multiple modernities now taking shape. Offering an unusual perspective on the past and present of our globalizing world, this book will appeal to scholars and advanced students of philosophy, political theory, the history of ideas, racial and ethnic studies, social theory, and cultural studies. (shrink)
The selectionsfrom the work of fourteen contemporary philosophers not only display the multiplicity of approachesbeing pursued since the breakup of any consensus on what philosophy is, but also help to clarifythis proliferation of views and ...
These lucid studies of Derrida, Foucault, Habermas, and Rorty analyze majorcontributions to recent critical theory and forge a distinct position in the current philosophicaldebate.Thomas McCarthy is John Schaffer Professor in the Humanities ...
Among “continental” philosophers there is general agreement that reason has to be understood as culturally mediated and embodied in social practice, and thus that the critique of reason should be carried out through some form of sociocultural analysis. At the same time, there is very sharp disagreement among them as to just what form the critique should take. In its most general terms, that disagreement has come to be known as the “modernity/postmodernity debate” in philosophy. Stylizing a bit, we might (...) characterize one side as attacking Enlightenment—especially Kantian—conceptions of reason and the rational subject at their very roots, and the other side as wanting to preserve such conceptions by transforming them. It is the merit of Richard Bernstein’s recent book to have reconstructed these abstruse metaphilosophical debates in generally comprehensible prose and to have indicated in the process the relevance of the pragmatist tradition to the issues they raise. (shrink)
This study offers a systematic reconstruction of the theoretical foundations and framework of critical social theory. It is Habermas' "magnum opus", and it is regarded as one of the most important works of modern social thought. In this second and final volume of the work, Habermas examines the relations between action concepts and systems theory and elaborates a framework for analyzing the developmental tendencies of modern societies. He discusses in detail the work of Marx, Durkheim, G.H. Mead and Talcott Parsons, (...) among others. By distinguishing between social systems and what he calls the "life-world", Habermas is able to analyze the ways in which the development of social systems impinges upon the symbolic and subjective dimensions of social life, resulting in the kind of crises, conflicts and protest movements which are characteristic of advanced capitalist societies in the late-20th century. (shrink)
There has recently been a surge of interest, theoretical and political, in reparations for slavery. This essay takes up several moral-political issues from that intensifying debate: how to conceptualize and justify collective compensation and collective responsibility, and how to establish a plausible connection between past racial injustices and present racial inequalities. It concludes with some brief remarks on one aspect of the very complicated politics of reparations: the possible effects of hearings and trials on the public memory and political culture (...) of a historically racist society. The hope is that these arguments, taken together, draft a coherent case for slavery reparations as pursued by the Reparations Coordinating Committee. (shrink)
The settlement of the North American continent was... a consequence not of any higher claim in a democratic or international sense, but rather of a consciousness of what is right which had its sole roots in the conviction of the superiority and thus of the right of the white race. —Adolf Hitler, 1932.
There are few ideas as important to the history of modern democracy as that of the nation as a political community. And yet, by comparison to its companion idea of political community as based upon the agreement of free and equal individuals, it remained until recently a marginal concern of liberal political theory. The aftermath of decolonization and the breakup of the Soviet empire, among other things, has changed that and brought it finally to the center of theoretical attention. And (...) once there, the deep-seated tensions in theory between nationalism and liberalism have proved to be as hard to overlook as their all too familiar tensions in practice. (shrink)
The hegemony of logical positivism was already on the wane in the 1960s as a result of penetrating criticisms by thinkers both inside and outside the movement. But its legacy continued to exert a formative influence on the less doctrinaire and more diverse varieties of “analytic philosophy” that succeeded it. For one thing, occasional disclaimers to the contrary notwithstanding, the physical and formal sciences have continued to exercise a stranglehold on philosophical imagination. This has not excluded the development of more (...) or less intimate relations with linguistics, especially formal linguistics, or a current love affair with cognitive science and artificial intelligence. But it has choked off any deep influence from the arts and humanities, as it has from history and the social sciences. And just because these latter domains have continued to be of central importance for Continental philosophy, we are left with the spectacle of “two philosophies”—analytic and Continental—mirroring the infamous split between the “two cultures.” As part of the same syndrome, analytic philosophy has become increasingly professional and technical and, consequently, largely invisible to the wider culture; whereas Continental philosophy, largely invisible to the wider culture; whereas Continental philosophy, while far from popular, has nevertheless maintained its ties to culture and society at large. The public roles of Jean-Paul Sartre and Michel Foucault in France, or of Theodor Adorno and Jürgen Habermas in Germany, have had no equivalent in American philosophy since the death of Dewey. Philosophers here think of themselves as scientists rather than as public intellectuals. Thomas McCarthy is professor of philosophy at Northwestern University. He is the author of The Critical Theory of Jürgen Habermas . This essay is part of a work-in-progress on philosophy and critical theory. (shrink)
The settlement of the North American continent was... a consequence not of any higher claim in a democratic or international sense, but rather of a consciousness of what is right which had its sole roots in the conviction of the superiority and thus of the right of the white race.—Adolf Hitler, 1932.
Andrew Arato. Seyla Benhabib. Hauke Brunkhorst. Cornelius Castoriadis. Jean Cohen. Helmut Dubiel. Klaus Eder. Gunter Frankenberg. Hans-Georg Gadamer. Axel Honneth. Johann Baptist Metz. Gertrud Nunner-Winkler. Claus Offe.".
This remarkable collection explores the legacy of Wittgenstein's work in contemporary American philosophy. The contributors (including several celebrated philosophers) take a variety of approaches to Wittgenstein; they discuss such topics as rule-following, realism about mathematics, the method of the Tractatus, the relation between style and content in Wittgenstein, and his distinction between sense and nonsense. Wittgenstein also is discussed in relation to subsequent philosophers such as Quine and Kripke.
I discuss a general limitative consequence of the unrestricted mereological composition thesis. The unrestricted composition thesis, which is roughly the assertion that every plurality of objects possesses a fusion or sum, is shown to be in conflict with general existence-conditions for certain categories of mereologically non-composite objects. The conclusion is that the unrestricted composition thesis, which is a maximizing principle about what aggregates exist, places sharp limits on what unaggregated items can exist.
There is a genre of contemporary philosophy that fits neatly neither the “analytic” nor the “continental” style but straddles both, seeking to combine the former’s rigor of analysis and argument with the latter’s breadth of historical and cultural perspective. Its practitioners emerge from both traditions and tend to be regarded by the more orthodox as out of the mainstream of each. In this regard, the three subjects of Gutting’s study—Richard Rorty, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Charles Taylor—have more in common with analytically (...) inclined continental philosophers like Jürgen Habermas than they do with more conventional analytic philosophers. But this is a book addressed chiefly to readers in the analytic tradition, and its careful reconstructions and assessments of its subjects’ views are pitched in that direction; their deep indebtedness to such thinkers as Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Humboldt, Heidegger, and Derrida remains in the background. Moreover, Gutting is not interested so much in presenting exhaustive accounts of their views as in using his discussions of them to construct and defend a philosophical position of his own, which he calls “pragmatic liberalism.” Because that position is closest to Rorty’s, he begins with an extended discussion of the latter’s “epistemological behaviorism” and “liberal ironism,” employing accurate reconstructions and cogent criticisms to develop his own views. MacIntyre and Taylor are then discussed as raising challenges to those views, particularly to the “ethical naturalism” that Gutting shares with Rorty. This approach means that Rorty’s views receive a fuller airing than do MacIntyre’s or, especially, Taylor’s. (shrink)
Philosophical controversies within contemporary critical theory arise largely from questions about the nature, scope and limits of human reason. As the linguistic turn in twentieth-century philosophy has increasingly given way to a sociocritical turn, traditional ideas of 'pure' reason have been left further and further behind. There is however considerable disagreement about what that shift entails for enlightenment ideals of self-consciousness, self-determination, and self-realization. In this book two prominent philosophers bring these disagreements into focus around a set of familiar philosophical (...) issues concerning reason and the rational subject, truth and representation, knowledge and objectivity, identity and difference, relativism and universalism, the right and the good. But these "perennial problems" are resituated within the context of critical theory as it has developed from the work of the Frankfurt School in the 1930's and 1940's to the multiplicity of contemporary approaches: genealogical, hermeneutic, neopragmatist, deconstructive, and reconstructive. (shrink)
Together, the two volumes underscore the richness and variety of Habermas's project.Contributors: Karl-Otto Apel. Richard J. Bernstein. Peter Burger. Martin Jay. Thomas McCarthy. Herbert Schnadelbach. Charles Taylor. Michael Theunissen.
Let us sum up. We began with the question, “What is the interest of a model-theoretic definition of validity?” Model theoretic validity consists in truth under all reinterpretations of non-logical constants. In this paper, we have described for each necessity concept a corresponding modal invariance property. Exemplification of that property by the logical constants of a language leads to an explanation of the necessity, in the corresponding sense, of its valid sentences. I have fixed upon the epistemic modalities in characterizing (...) the logical constants: to be a logical constant in the language of a population is to be invariant over a modality describing complete possible epistemic states of that population (or an idealized analogue thereof). The grounds for this characterization are these: (1) It leads, I believe, to an extensionally reasonable demarcation of the logical constants, including clear cases and excluding clear non-cases. It gives a principled criterion for deciding unclear cases. (2) It provides an analysis of the topic-neutrality of logic. (3) It leads to an explanation of the epistemic necessity of the logical truths in terms of the topic-neutrality of the logical constants.All the same, it is reasonable to ask, even if the suggested demarcation of logic is extensionally correct, whether it can reasonably be expected to be fundamental. The epistemic invariance of an expression is a rather striking property, one which we should want to explain. What is missing, then, is an explanation of the distinguishing epistemic properties of the constants in terms of more fundamental properties involving their understanding and use. It would be these that properly define the nature, not just the extent, of logic. (shrink)
In general, Habermas has more readily accommodated conflicts of interst in his discourse theory of democracy than he has conflicts of values, ways of life, and worldviews. Though he has continouously elaborated upon notions of "ethical-political" discourse, culture, and identity since 1988, his treatments of diversity, pluralism, multiculturalism, and multinationalism have left agreement at the center and disagreement in the margins of his conception of legitimacy. This essay examines the development of that conception from the early 1970s to the present (...) and argues that "the consent of the governed" cannot be given so cognitive an interpretation as Habermas gives it. (shrink)
I find myself in the odd position of trying to convince someone who had done as much as anyone to bring philosophy into the wider culture that he is wrong to urge now that its practice be consigned to the esoteric pursuits of “private ironists.” The problem, I still believe, is Richard Rorty’s all-or-nothing approach to philosophy : foundationalism or ironism; and this, I think, is encouraged by his selective reading of philosophy’s history. On that reading, modern philosophy “centered around (...) a discussion of truth” ; it was preoccupied with foundationalist claims of one sort or another. But that preoccupation was permanently discredited by Friedrich Nietzsche and his descendants, especially Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida, leaving philosophy with nothing to do but pick the bones of its own carcass. What is missing from this story is precisely the line of thought—extending from the left Hegelians to Jürgen Habermas—I sought to develop in my paper. That line is defined by, among other things, the primacy of practical reason and the rerouting of philosophical inquiry in sociohistorical directions. One of its high points is American pragmatism, which, pace Rorty, does not lie along the Nietzsche—Heidegger—Derrida line. Thomas McCarthy is professor of philosophy at Northwestern University. He is the author of The Critical Theory of Jürgen Habermas and editor of the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought. His work-in-progress concerns the relation of philosophy to social theory. (shrink)
Jurgen Habermas is unquestionably one of the foremost philosophers writing today. His notions of communicative action and rationality have exerted a profound influence within philosophy and the social sciences. This volume examines the historical and intellectual contexts out of which Habermas' work emerged, and offers an overview of his main ideas, including those in his most recent publication. Amongst the topics discussed are his relationship to the Frankfurt School of critical theory and Marx, his unique contributions to the philosophy of (...) the social sciences, the concept of 'communicative ethics', and the critique of post-modernism. New readers and non-specialists will find this the most convenient, accessible guide to Habermas currently available. Advanced students will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of Habermas. (shrink)