Habermas and Kant: Judgement and communicative experience

Philosophy and Social Criticism 26 (6):21-45 (2000)
Abstract
This article takes issue with the formalism problem arguably pertaining to Habermas's conception of communicative rationality and discursive justification. Beginning with the Hegelian premises of Habermas's theory of mutual understanding and communicative rationality, the article proceeds to make Kant's doctrine of reflective judgement fruitful for a critique of Habermas's restriction of reasons to discursively articulated endorsements, the 'force of the better reasons'. The argument consists in showing that discursive justification must rely upon endorsements of particulars exhibited in right judgements, and that such endorsements must be expressed or articulated to yield public manifestations of discursive orientations and commitments, constituting what is referred to as 'communicative experience'. On the account presented here, the rational significance of particulars is revealed in the expressive attitude that allows or admits non-discursive constraints to the conception of rational justification. The promise of such an account - as premised upon Kant's insights in his third Critique - consists in its capability to avoid the one-sided formalism of discursive rationality, incorporating ethical, expressive and aesthetic dimensions to our rational self-conception. Key Words: aesthetic experience • communicative experience • concrete other • discourse-ethics • ethical life • feminism • Habermas • Hegel • Kant • morality • rational justification • reflective judgement • world-disclosure.
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