Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Critical introduction to the philosophy of Habermas

The Philosophy of Jürgen Habermas
A Critical Introduction

by Uwe Steinhoff

(Oxford University Press, 2009), 304 pages


This study is a comprehensive and detailed analysis and sustained critique of Habermas' philosophical system since his pragmatist turn in the seventies. It clearly and precisely depicts Habermas' long chain of arguments leading from an analysis of speech acts to a discourse theory of law and the democratic constitutional state. Along the way the study examines, among other things, Habermas' theory of communicative action, transcendental and universal pragmatics and the argument from performative contradictions, discourse ethics, the consensus theory of truth, Habermas' ideas on developmental psychology, communicative pathologies and social evolution, his theory of social order, the analysis of the tensions between system and lifeworld, his theory of modernity, and his theory of deliberative democracy.


1: "Communicative" vs. purposive rationality [online]
2: The justification of discourse ethics
3: The failure of discourse ethics and the theory of communicative action in their attempted empirical demonstration and application to politics, law and society

The book is an abridged English version of Uwe Steinhoff's "Kritik der kommunikativen Rationalität: Eine Darstellung und Kritik der kommunikationstheoretischen Philosophie von Jürgen Habermas und Karl-Otto Apel" (Mentis Verlag, 2006).

Uwe Steinhoff is Assistant Professor at the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Hong Kong. He studied philosophy in Frankfurt, Berlin and Würzburg. Before coming to Hong Kong he taught philosophy at Humboldt University, Berlin, and at Oxford University. His main research interest is terrorism.

Thanks to Ali Rizvi for the link.

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