The Communicative Ethics Controversy

From Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought

The Communicative Ethics Controversy

Edited by Seyla Benhabib and Fred R. Dallmayr

With Thomas McCarthy




This timely reader in moral philosophy addresses a controversy that strongly affected recent European reflections on the relevance of ethics for theories of democratic institutions and democratic legitimacy. The debate centers around the idea of a communicative ethics as articulated by Jürgen Habermas and Karl-Otto Apel, and it is representative both of recent attempts to bridge the gap between Continental and Anglo-American philosophy and of the turn to language that has characterized much of recent philosophy.The Communicative Ethics Controversy illustrates philosophical dialogue in action, moving from theses to counterarguments to rejoinders. Theoretical statements by Habermas, Apel, and two of their leading students, Dietrich Böhler and Robert Alexy, are followed by a series of five arguments by their leading critics, who represent viewpoints ranging from Kantian idealism to Wittgensteinian ordinary-language theory. Fred Dallmayr's introduction and Seyla Benhabib's incisive conclusion place the debate in perspective, bringing it up to date and relating it to the Anglo-American context.

ContributorsRobert Alexy, Karl-Otto Apel, Seyla Benhabib, Dietrich Bohler, Jurgen Habermas, Otfried Hoffe, Karl Heinz Ilting, Hermann Lubbe, Herbert Schnadelbach, Albrecht Wellmer


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262023054 390 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262521529 390 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


Seyla Benhabib

Seyla Benhabib is Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University and author of The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era and other books.

Fred R. Dallmayr

Fred Dallmayr is Packey Dee Professor of Government at the University of Notre Dame.


Thomas McCarthy.