Рубрика: : Habermas


At the center of Jurgen Habermas’s account of the development of self-iden­tity is the capacity to question and criticize conventions. This requires a capac­ity to conceptually abstract from given contexts through an appeal to principles. And this capacity is learned through the internalization of social and linguistic norms. For Habermas, the development of self-identity is […]

Toward a Developmental Theory of Self-Identity

For the early Frankfurt School theorists, the capacity for critique was the essential achievement of individuation. But in the melancholy story of the “Dialectic of Enlightenment,” the development of the individual’s capacity for critique entails the internalization of authority which, paradoxically, oblit­erates all motives for critique, and inhibits any capacity for genuinely inde­pendent thought.10 Jessica […]

Aesthetic Change

Suppose we take our interpretive and evaluative differences seriously with regard to the question of the normative legitimacy of contract pregnancy or surrogate motherhood. Might we look, then, for a resolution of the issue not by relying on the force of the better argument but rather by looking towards the sorts of discus­sions in which […]

Habermas’s Discourse Ethics

Habermas’s discourse ethics is meant to follow from an analysis of the communicative interactions in which “participants coordinate their plans of action consensually.”9 Habermas argues that competent speakers can them­selves tell the difference between their strategic attempts to influence a hearer’s actions causally and their communicative attempts to come to an under­standing with him or […]


It is precisely Habermas’s recognition of the fundamentally intersubjective nature of subjectivity, coupled with his normative ideal of noncoercive discourse, that makes his work attractive, and I would argue that his position remains attractive even if we accept Benjamin’s critique of patriarchy and autonomy. Habermas’s appreciation for the intersubjective constitution of identity is expressed in […]

Benjamin’s Argument

Freudian pyschoanalytic theory views the acquisition of ego identity as a project which is initiated at birth and realized in the context of a never completely resolved conflict between the needs for attachment to and separa­tion from the original and compelling power of the infant-mother bond. Freud’s account posits an infant whose self-identity is initially […]

Autonomy, Recognition, and Respect: Habermas, Benjamin, and Honneth

Johanna Meehan In his work on moral development, Jurgen Habermas focuses on the cognitive steps which make it possible for a child to move from a conventional under­standing of right and wrong to a post-conventional stage where norms require discursive justification. His account, influenced by Lawrence Kohlberg’s, details the cognitive skills required in recognizing, raising, […]

A Different View: Looking Behind the Neutral Observer

My critique of Habermas’s account singles out three elements: the claimed neutrality of the observer perspective, the lack of differentiation in the notion of authority-governed complementarity, and the limits placed on the inter­pretation of moral development by the construction of competition and coop­eration as binary oppositions. A consideration of these concepts in light of the […]