Sunday, May 15, 2011

New book on Habermas's view on law and politics

The Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy

by Hugh Baxter

(Stanford University Press, May 2011)

352 pages


Though many legal theorists are familiar with Jürgen Habermas's work addressing core legal concerns, they are not necessarily familiar with his earlier writings in philosophy and social theory. Because Habermas's later work on law invokes, without significant explanation, the whole battery of concepts developed in earlier phases of his career, even otherwise sympathetically inclined legal theorists face significant obstacles in evaluating his insights.

A similar difficulty faces those outside the legal academy who are familiar with Habermas's earlier work. While they readily comprehend Habermas's basic social-theoretical concepts, without special legal training they have difficulty reliably assessing his recent engagement with contemporary legal thought. This new work bridges the gap between legal experts and those without special legal training, critically assessing the attempt of an unquestionably preeminent philosopher and social theorist to engage the world of law.



1. Basic Concepts in Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action
2. Habermas’s “Reconstruction” of Modern Law
3. Discourse Theory and the Theory and Practice of Adjudication
4. System, Lifeworld, and Habermas’s “Communication Theory of Society”
5. After Between Facts and Norms: Religion in the Public Square, Multiculturalism, and the “Postnational Constellation”

Hugh Baxter is Professor of Law and Philosophy at Boston University.

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