Consensus and normative validity

Inquiry 40 (1):47 – 61 (1997)
Abstract
A weak and a strong version of discourse theory can be distinguished. In the strong version the only source of normative validity in the nonspecific sense is rational consensus, where all parties concerned accept a norm for the same reasons, which are rationally convincing in the same way for all. In the weak version both rational and overlapping consensus can be sources of validity in the nonspecific sense. It is argued that the weak version is the more adequate, since it can accommodate cases which the strong version cannot, and which it is unreasonable to view as cases of compromise. Discourse theory needs a weaker general discourse principle and a more flexible notion of normative consensus than is found in Habermas's Between Facts and Norms (1996).
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