The moral imaginary of discourse ethics

Critical Horizons 1 (2):247-269 (2000)
The central claim of this essay is that Habermas' program of discourse ethics fails to establish the necessary immanent connection between the universality of discourse ethics and the quasi-transcendentalism, which is supposed to provide its ground. Habermas' attempt to avoid the spectre of subjectivism leads him to develop an understanding of universalism that hinges on a critical error, the confusion of subjectivity with ethical substance. Using Castoriadis' theory of the imagination to illuminate this failure, I demonstrate the way in which Habermas' moral theory of discourse inadvertently harbours a moral-imaginary horizon, a pre-political kernel which undercuts its capacity to serve as a universalist ethic.
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