What is a validity claim?

Philosophy and Social Criticism 24 (4):23-41 (1998)
Abstract
Even though the concept of a 'validity claim' is central to Habermas's theory of communicative action, he has never given a precise definition of the term. He has stated only that truth is a type of validity claim, and that rightness and sincerity are analogous to truth. This paper explores the basis of this analogy, arguing that rightness and sincerity must share at least two characteristics with the truth predicate: each must be the designated value in an appropriate system of logic, and each must serve as the 'central notion' in a theory of meaning for some corresponding class of speech acts. It is these two characteristics that establish the internal connec tion between understanding and justification that Habermas's more general project requires. However, there is an unnoticed tension between these two characteristics, since the relative autonomy of linguistic meaning from specific contexts of use appears to require that speech acts be governed by a uniform logic, and thus by a single validity claim. Key Words: communicative action • - Habermas • - pragmatics • - speech act theory • - truth • - validity claim.
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