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The philosophical significance of binary categories in Habermas’s discourse ethics

Susen, Simon (2009) The philosophical significance of binary categories in Habermas’s discourse ethics. Sociological Analysis 3 (2), pp. 97-125. ISSN 1097-7147.


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The philosophical programme associated with the discourse ethics of Jürgen Habermas has been widely discussed in the literature. The fact that Habermas has devoted a considerable part of his work to the elaboration of this philosophical programme indicates that discourse ethics can be regarded as a cornerstone of his communication-theoretic approach to society. In essence, Habermas conceives of discourse ethics as a philosophical framework which derives the coordinative power of social normativity from the discursive power of communicative rationality. Although there is an extensive literature on Habermas’s communication-theoretic account of society, almost no attention has been paid to the fact that the theoretical framework which undergirds his discourse ethics is based on a number of binary conceptual divisions. It is the purpose of this paper to shed light on the philosophical significance of these binary categories in Habermas’s discourse ethics and thereby demonstrate that their complexity is indicative of the subject’s tension-laden immersion in social reality.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published as a monograph, ISBN: 9780980189681
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): binaries, binary categories, communication, communicative rationality, discourse, discourse ethics, Habermas, language, normativity, rationality, reason, subject
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Politics
Depositing User: Dr Simon Susen
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2010 09:01
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33

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