The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 5:123-131 (2007)
|Abstract||The paper explores the extent to which 'postmodernism' has affected our conception of social theory, especially with regard to the normative assumptions involved in cultural and social interpretation. It makes a proposal about how to redefine normativity after the postmodern challenge. Postmodernist theorists engage in the rejection of trans-contextual notions of truth and universalistic moralities. Yet since these efforts themselves involve commitments to truth and normativity, we might be inclined to reject them as inherently incoherent. A different, more promising road would consist in taking seriously the postmodern critique of reason, and to inquire whether, instead of necessarily implying a total rejection of reason, it suggests a reformulation of the scope and nature of truth and normativity. In this paper, I prepare such a reconceptualization with regard to the issue of normativity. The aim is to sketch a theory of normative commitment as built into our interpretive practices, if understood as the dialogical reconstruction—and thus recognition—of the other's beliefs and assumptions. To make the case for this proposal, I first present, by means of a comparison between modern and postmodern conceptions of social science, an interpretation of the relevance of the postmodern challenge with regard to modern social theory. Based on this, I will sketch a fourfold discursive field of positions addressing the justification of normative perspectives after postmodernism. This discussion will serve as a backdrop against which the concept of a hermeneutic competence of dialogical perspective-assumption can emerge as a plausible candidate for grounding our normative intuitions|
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