Habermas between metaphysical and natural realism

Abstract
Habermas's recent work in epistemology has been marked by a decisive rejection of his earlier epistemic conception of truth in which he understood truth as 'what may be accepted as rational under ideal conditions'. Arguing that no 'idealization of justificatory conditions' can do justice to both human fallibility and the unconditional nature of truth, he has attempted to develop a realistic conception of truth that severs any conceptual link between truth and justification while respecting the epistemic relevance of justification for ascertaining the truth. But realizing this second goal has proved elusive for Habermas because he veers too close to a form of metaphysical realism in his epistemology. By contrast, Hilary Putnam's recent turn to what he calls 'natural realism' is more successful in articulating a form of realism that, in taking its leave of an epistemic conception of truth, still manages to keep its distance from metaphysical realism.
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