Strategies of justice: The project of philosophy in Lyotard and Habermas

Philosophy and Social Criticism 25 (2):87-113 (1999)
Abstract
This paper presents the philosophies of J.-F. Lyotard and J. Habermas as motivated by the common goal of conceiving a credible theory of social justice whilst avoiding the aporias of the philosophy of subjectivity. It is argued that each constructs a conception of social justice through conceiving domination within the philosophical framework furnished by the linguistic turn. This argument will involve an examination of the divergent readings given by these thinkers of the relation between injustice and language use. Lyotard's critique of Habermas's philosophy is then examined. It is maintained that Lyotard's notion of aesthetic presentation sheds light on an important deficiency in Habermas's attempt to conceive justice in terms of the emancipatory potential of communicative speech. Lyotard's theory of justice is then defended against the charge that it constitutes a renouncement of normative critique. However, the defence of Lyotard is tentative, since, it is argued, the commitment to the paradigm of Kantian aesthetics poses problems for Lyotard's critique of the subjective foundationalist project. Key Words: Habermas • á justice • language • Lyotard • universalism.
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