Saturday, December 19, 2009

Habermas on ethics, morality and European identity

Habermas on ethics, morality and European identity
Author: Russell Keat a
Affiliation: a School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, UK

This paper examines Habermas's theoretical account of ethical (as distinct from moral) reasoning in politics, presented in Between facts and norms, and considers its possible application to his later discussion of European identity and the need for political union to address the impact of globalisation and the threat posed by neoliberalism. It argues that this practical application of the theory point to serious defects in it: a failure to show that ethics differs from morality in being inseparable from identity, and an inability to explain how a genuinely rational debate about the specifically ethical dimensions of political issues can be conducted. It concludes by considering the relationship between Habermas's view of the place of ethics in political reasoning and debates about neutrality and perfectionism in liberal theory, including Dobson's recent argument in Supranational citizenship that different principles should operate at different levels of governance.


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