The limits of communicative rationality and deliberative democracy


This article develops a critique of Jurgen Habermas's account of communicative rationality. Habermas argues that communication harbours an implicit promise, that it is underpinned by a a claim to be valid which is in principle subject to verification. A close reading of Habermas's badic theoretical decisions demosntrates what communicative rationality occludes in the study of language. Habermas sidelines concerns about the ineliminable power underlying any communication, and occludes any focus on the slipperiness of meaning. The critique has implications for the theoretical defence of deliberative democracy, the topic of so much secondary work in political studies nowadays. In the second section of the article I contend that Habermas’s account of reason is incapable of addressing two key political questions: economic inequality and bio-politics. This failure is a consequence of the way in which Habermas constructs reason, as communicative. The consequence is that any account of reason or deliberation premised upon formal pragmatics should be reconstructed. This reconstruction will need to give account of the violence that underpins the deliberative account of democracy

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Property, Propriety and Democracy.Mark Devenney - 2011 - Studies in Social Justice 5 (2):149-165.

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