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.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Science as instrumental reason: Heidegger, Habermas . .

Abstract In modern continental thought, natural science is widely portrayed as an
exclusively instrumental mode of reason. The breadth of this consensus has partly
preempted the question of how it came to persuade. The process of persuasion, as it
played out in Germany, can be explored by reconstructing the intellectual exchanges
among three twentieth-century theorists of science, Heidegger, Habermas, and
Werner Heisenberg. Taking an iconic Heisenberg as a kind of limiting case of ‘‘the
scientist,’’ Heidegger and Habermas each found themselves driven to place new
constraints on their previously more capacious assessments of science, especially its
capacity to reflect on its method. Tracing how that happened, through archival and
historical contextualization and close readings of their texts, lets us make visible
Heidegger and Habermas’s intellectual affinities and argumentative parallels, which
derived not only from their shared grounding in earlier reactions against positivism,
but also from confrontation with contemporary events. The latter included, for
Heidegger, the rise of a technically powerful science exemplified by nuclear
physics, and for Habermas, post-World War II controversies over science, technology,
and their socially critical possibilities.

full article here
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