Authors
Roberto Frega
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Abstract
In this paper I argue against Jürgen Habermas’s theoretical dualism between ethics and morality. I do this by showing how his account of normativity is vitiated by an unnecessary superposition of a social-evolutionary and a theoretical-linguistic account of normativity, and that this brings about theoretical problems that in the end cannot be overcome. I also show that Rainer Forst’s attempt at salvaging Habermas’s distinction is equally doomed to failure, but that his attempt nevertheless invites new and more fruitful avenues for normative theory that are worth exploring. The conclusion of this paper is that traditional notions of ethics and morality can be preserved provided we heavily redefine their meanings and release them from some of the theoretical work they have been expected to accomplish, but that to complete this transition we also need to supersede Forst’s pluralization of normative contexts toward a theory of normative practices that in the end makes the distinction between ethics and morality workable but useless. I begin by first locating the debate about ethics and morality within the context of recent normative theory, and proceed to examine the two main strategies through which Habermas has elaborated his idea of a sharp dualism between ethics and morality. I then introduce a theoretical distinction between what I call a horizontal and a vertical integration of ethics and morality and contend that whilst only the horizontal is viable, Habermas decidedly prefers the idea of a vertical integration. With this work done, I proceed to complete my critique of Habermas’s argument and show how, by recovering the pragmatist roots of his thought, an alternative solution based on a functionalist understanding of morality could be envisaged. I then conclude by examining Rainer Forst’s attempt at salvaging Habermas’s account, and show that the failure of Forst’s attempts opens the way for new and more fruitful approaches to normative theory which are more likely to recover the pragmatist roots of Habermas’s thought.
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DOI 10.1080/09672559.2013.833963
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What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.

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