Exploring Habermas's Critical Engagement with Chomsky

Human Studies 35 (1):51-76 (2012)
This article explores Jürgen Habermas’s critical employment of Noam Chomsky’s insights and the philosophical assumptions that motivate or justify Habermas’s early enrichment of his universal pragmatics with material drawn from generative linguistics. The investigation of the influence Chomsky’s theory has exerted on Habermas aims to clarify what Habermas means by universalism, reason embedded in language and the universal core of communicative competence—away from various misinterpretations of Habermas’s rationalist commitments and from reductive, conventionalist readings of his notion of consensus. Much against hasty and unexamined incriminations of Habermasian pragmatics, a turn to a neglected and scantly researched topic such as the philosophical affinity of some Chomskian and Habermasian themes (and to the philosophical justification of the points where Chomsky and Habermas part company) will retrieve the kind of depth and nuance that may lead us beyond facile and simplistic understandings of what discursively reaching consensus might mean from a Habermasian point of view
Keywords Communicative competence  Rationalism  Universalism  Conventionalism  Validity claims
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DOI 10.1007/s10746-012-9210-8
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