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Title: Wittgenstein and Habermas on performance rationality
Author: Driver, James Campbell.
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2005
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The aim of the thesis is to undertake a criticism of Habermas' neo-Kantian theory of communicative rationality and his claim that it is able to provide a number of significant resolutions to a central problem of moral philosophy, the tension between the justification of theoretical reason and the application of practical reason (also conceived of as the fact-value distinction). Reference is made to Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and On Certainty. Wittgenstein's philosophy, especially the issues surrounding the relevance of a 'linguistic idealism' in language, permit us to make a critique of communicative rationality because of the way it understands intersubjective truth. Wittgenstein can provide an account which allows normative standards of truth and objectivity to be established without having to rely on linguistically constituted first principles of abstract universality. Our account conceives of worldly facticity and ideal normativity as having a substantive juxtaposition to each other in language and does not conceive of them as irreparably divided. It conceives of the difference between them as a spectrum of rationality consisting of differing levels of intersubjective agreement, allowing for different levels of normative achievement. This can account for varying levels in the social and political achievement of counterfactual ideals. Politically, Habermas conceives the fact-value distinction as a difference between the Aristotelian concept of the polis, where ethical standards are derived from the substantive context of a way of life and the Kantian conception of a community of autonomous individuals determined by their own free will. The thesis contends that communicative rationality retains a principle of abstract universality which keeps it isolated from substantive content. A Wittgensteinian conception of communicative rationality can overcome this problem more successfully by simultaneously avoiding the rigourism of Habermas' abstract universalism at no loss to the justification of statements of justice and morality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available