Philosophical Foundations of Habermas’ Critique of Particularistic Liberalism

Jürgen Habermas has emerged as a sharp, and occasionally harsh, critic of the Bush administration’s policies since the Iraq war. Habermas has developed this critique in several of his short pieces and interviews, some of which are available in fine collections in both English and other languages. However, the occasional and journalistic character of Habermas’ political interventions often hide the theoretical basis of his critique. In this paper, I argue that Habermas’ critique of the Bush administration’s foreign policy emanates from, and is founded upon, his conception of modernity, and specifically his views about the relationship between “particularity” and “generality.” The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate how Habermas’ critique can actually be read as a critique of particularism, which Habermas sees operating behind American (and British) foreign policy, and which, in his view, compromises the key achievements of modernity (especially in its Kantian version.)
Keywords Habermas  Kant  modernity  generality  particularity  universalism  America  Iraq  world republic  liberalism
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