* Seyla Benhabib - "For Jürgen Habermas on his 90th birthday"
Excerpt: Jürgen Habermas became known in the United States during the mid- to late 1970s, at a crucial point in the development of philosophy and the social sciences. The hegemony of Cold War analytical philosophy of language was disrupted by John Rawls’s Theory of Justice (1972); by Charles Taylor’s critique of atomist behaviorism through his magnificent essay on “Interpretation and the Sciences of Man;” by Richard Bernstein’s Praxis and Action (1971); and, somewhat later, by Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue (1981). What united all these texts was the thesis that the interpretation of human action and social phenomena was no less “scientific” than natural ones simply because such interpretations did not fit the positivist conception of science. Nor were normative problems of social justice and equality to be discarded as merely “emotive” rather than as matters that permitted rational inquiry. What was needed was a more comprehensive understanding of human rationality and knowledge. (.....) What I most appreciated about Habermas as a teacher of philosophy was his capacity to listen to the other, to seek to understand the other’s argument and to summarize it better than the author or speaker herself had done."
Excerpt: "Habermas’ normative political theory has always been based on the assumption that reality must “meet it half way”—thus he has sought to develop realistic utopian, normatively justified, future-oriented, and praxis-based remedies to the systemic and contextual problems his analyses diagnosed. It is this dual focus on analyzing social structural dynamics in specific conjunctures (social theory) and developing normative, critical political philosophy in a comprehensive theoretical framework that makes Habermas’ thought so important also for fourth, fifth and, I am sure, future generations of critical theorists worldwide.
Habermas’ astounding synthetic ability has allowed his work to speak to philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, political theorists, and legal and constitutional theorists. The impact on political theory is clear: Habermas’ theory of discourse ethics, communicative interaction, and democratic legitimacy triggered the political theory debates around deliberative and epistemic democracy taken up by the Rawlsians and by critical theorists, that continue unabated today."
* Frank I Michelman - "Legitimacy and Moral Support"
* Cheryl Misak - "Habermas’s Place in the History of Pragmatism"
Excerpt: "Habermas’s appearance on the pragmatist scene was an important and welcome moment in its history. Pragmatism was reeling from Richard Rorty’s version which held that if we can’t have certainty, we can’t have any truth or rightness over and above agreement within a community, or what works for an individual, or what is found to solve a problem. In some moods, Rorty went as far as claiming that truth and objectivity are nothing more than what our peers will let us get away with saying. Habermas provided a corrective to that kind of relativist pragmatism. He argued that there are some universal rules of communication or inquiry, and they structure evaluation of belief."
* Michel Rosenfeld - "Habermas at 90: A Personal and Professional Tribute"
Excerpt: "Viewing Habermas’s entire intellectual trajectory from a bird’s eye view, what is most impressive is his unbending commitment to the equal worth and dignity of all human beings as against all oppression and excesses stemming from the spread of exclusionary ideologies, contested conceptions of the good, or systemic encroachments. Throughout his long and most illustrious intellectual journey, Habermas has been guided by an ironclad determination not to forget the unspeakable evils of Nazism and to erect the most unforgiving comprehensive theoretical barrier against the recurrence of or return to any ideological bent that may open the way to any tendencies towards such evils. In essence, Habermas is an endlessly creative, resourceful, innovative, and unyielding defender of the ideals of the Enlightenment against all odds: disenchantment and instrumentalization of reason; globalization and its discontents; fundamentalist global terrorism; postmodernism and post-secularism; as well as illiberal populism."