The moral imaginary of discourse ethics

Critical Horizons 1 (2):247-269 (2000)
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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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