Politics and morality in Habermas' discourse ethics

Philosophy and Social Criticism 38 (2):149-168 (2012)
Abstract
In this article I argue that Jürgen Habermas’ notion of morality (moral norms) has more in common with Hegel’s notion of ‘ethical life’ as a ‘ sittlich ’ relation – understood as a socially integrative force – rather than Kant’s supreme principle of personal morality. I show that Habermas and Hegel, each in his own way, make a distinction between morality and ethics. However, I make the case that Habermas’ conception of ‘morality’ incorporates aspects of Hegel’s notion of ‘ethical life’, while Habermas’ conception of ‘ethical’ – referring to individual and group conceptions of the good life – is a remedy to the shortcomings in Hegel’s overly unified ethical life. I offer an alternative reading of Habermas’ principle of morality, which I suggest should be read as his attempt to provide a binding process to set up the norms that ought to condition a modern political community understood as a civil association
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