Justification and Application

From Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought

Justification and Application

Remarks on Discourse Ethics

Translated by Ciaran P. Cronin

By Jürgen Habermas

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This collection of four essays and an interview contains Habermas's most recent contributions to ethical theory. It expands and clarifies the work on discourse ethics presented in Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action. Here, largely in response to criticisms from contemporary neo-Aristotelians, Habermas underscores the claim of discourse ethics to a preeminent position in contemporary moral philosophy with incisive analyses and refinements of the central concepts of his theory that include important developments in his treatment of practical reason and of the problems of application and motivation. The first essay offers a comprehensive analysis of practical rationality, which establishes a clear demarcation between pragmatic, ethical, and moral questions and a corresponding differentiation between forms of volition and spheres of practical discourse. The centerpiece of the book is a multifaceted defense of the central claims of discourse ethics incorporating masterly critiques of the major competing positions, including those of John Rawls, Bernard Williams, Charles Taylor, Alasdair MacIntyre, Karl-Otto Apel, and Albrecht Wellmer. The middle essays defend the basic intention of universalist moral theory in the face of the claims of the neo-Aristotelian ethics of the good and Horkheimer's skepticism toward reason that led him to embrace a religiously inspired ethic of compassion. An interview with Habermas covering such topics as the genesis of discourse ethics, the precise import of some of its more controversial elements, and its interconnections with the theory of communicative actions concludes this important collection.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262082174 229 pp. | 5.8 in x 8.9 in


$25.00 S | £20.00 ISBN: 9780262581363 229 pp. | 5.8 in x 8.9 in

Not for sale in the UK Commonwealth, except Canada.


Ciaran P. Cronin.