“Communicative” versus Purposive Rationality

Uwe Steinhoff

in The Philosophy of Jürgen Habermas

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780199547807
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720758 | DOI:
“Communicative” versus Purposive Rationality

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According to Habermas, a universalist normative ethics cannot be justified by appeal to purposive rationality or means-end rationality. Therefore he proposes recourse to an “uncurtailed” form of rationality that is oriented towards consensus and hence can guarantee intersubjective validity. This is an appeal to what Habermas calls “communicative” or “discursive rationality”. He tries to develop the concept of communicative rationality and to demonstrate its irreducibility to and priority over purposive rationality in his theory of communicative action. In particular, he attempts to show that the conditions of rationality for communicative action have to be explicated through a theory of argumentation, which, in turn, leads to a discourse theory of rationality. The chapter explains and critically analyses Habermas' chain of argument.

Keywords: argumentation; communicative action; communicative rationality; consensus; intersubjectivity; purposive rationality; rationality; universalism; validity; Max Weber

Chapter.  39862 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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