Full name Jürgen Habermas
Born June 18, 1929 (age 80)
School/tradition Continental philosophy
Main interests Social Theory • Epistemology
Political theory • Pragmatics
Notable ideas Communicative rationality
Jürgen Habermas (German pronunciation: [ˈjʏʁɡən ˈhaːbɐmaːs]; born June 18, 1929) is a German philosopher and sociologist in the tradition of critical theory and American pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his work on the concept of the public sphere, the topic (and title) of his first book. His work focused on the foundations of social theory and epistemology, the analysis of advanced capitalistic societies and democracy, the rule of law in a critical social-evolutionary context, and contemporary politics—particularly German politics. Habermas's theoretical system is devoted to revealing the possibility of reason, emancipation, and rational-critical communication latent in modern institutions and in the human capacity to deliberate and pursue rational interests.
• 1 Biography
o 1.1 Teacher and mentor
• 2 Theory
o 2.1 Reconstructive science
o 2.2 The public sphere
• 3 Key Dialogues
o 3.1 Historikerstreit (Historians' Quarrel)
o 3.2 Habermas and Derrida
o 3.3 Dialogue with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI)
• 4 Major works
• 5 See also
• 6 References
o 6.1 Notes
o 6.2 Sources
• 7 Awards
• 8 External links
Habermas was born in Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia.
Until his graduation from gymnasium, Habermas lived in Gummersbach, near Cologne. His father, Ernst Habermas, was executive director of the Cologne Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and was described by Habermas as a Nazi sympathizer. He was brought up in a staunchly Protestant milieu, his grandfather being the director of the seminary in Gummersbach. He studied at the universities of Göttingen (1949/50), Zürich (1950/51), and Bonn (1951–54) and earned a doctorate in philosophy from Bonn in 1954 with a dissertation entitled, Das Absolute und die Geschichte. Von der Zwiespältigkeit in Schellings Denken ("The absolute and history: on the contradiction in Schelling's thought"). His dissertation committee included Erich Rothacker and Oskar Becker.
From 1956 on, he studied philosophy and sociology under the critical theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main Institute for Social Research, but because of a rift between the two over his dissertation—Horkheimer had made unacceptable demands for revision—as well as his own belief that the Frankfurt School had become paralyzed with political skepticism and disdain for modern culture—he finished his habilitation in political science at the University of Marburg under the Marxist Wolfgang Abendroth. His habilitation work was entitled, Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit; Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der Bürgerlichen Gesellschaft (published in English translation in 1989 as The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: an Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society). In 1961, he became a privatdozent in Marburg, and—in a move that was highly unusual for the German academic scene of that time—he was offered the position of "extraordinary professor" (professor without chair) of philosophy at the University of Heidelberg (at the instigation of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Karl Löwith) in 1962, which he accepted. In 1964, strongly supported by Adorno, Habermas returned to Frankfurt to take over Horkheimer's chair in philosophy and sociology. The philosopher Albrecht Wellmer was his assistant in Frankfurt from 1966 to 1970.
He accepted the position of Director of the Max Planck Institute in Starnberg (near Munich) in 1971, and worked there until 1983, two years after the publication of his magnum opus, The Theory of Communicative Action.
Habermas then returned to his chair at Frankfurt and the directorship of the Institute for Social Research. Since retiring from Frankfurt in 1993, Habermas has continued to publish extensively. In 1986, he received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, which is the highest honour awarded in German research. He also holds the uncharacteristically postmodern position of "Permanent Visiting" Professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and "Theodor Heuss Professor" at The New School, New York.
Habermas was awarded The Prince of Asturias Award in Social Sciences of 2003. Habermas was also the 2004 Kyoto Laureate in the Arts and Philosophy section. He traveled to San Diego and on March 5, 2005, as part of the University of San Diego's Kyoto Symposium, gave a speech entitled The Public Role of Religion in Secular Context, regarding the evolution of separation of Church and State from neutrality to intense secularism. He received the 2005 Holberg International Memorial Prize (about € 520,000).
 Teacher and mentor
Habermas is a famed teacher and mentor. Among his most prominent students were the pragmatic philosopher Herbert Schnädelbach (theorist of discourse distinction and rationality), the political sociologist Claus Offe (professor at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin) , the social philosopher Johann Arnason (professor at La Trobe University and chief editor of the journal Thesis Eleven), the sociological theorist Hans Joas (professor at the University of Erfurt and at the University of Chicago), the theorist of societal evolution Klaus Eder, the social philosopher Axel Honneth (the current director of the Institute for Social Research), the anarcho-capitalist philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe, the American philosopher Thomas McCarthy, the co-creator of mindful inquiry in social research Jeremy J. Shapiro, and the assassinated Serbian prime minister Zoran Đinđić.
Habermas has constructed a comprehensive framework of social theory and philosophy drawing on a number of intellectual traditions:
• the German philosophical thought of Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schelling, G. W. F. Hegel, Wilhelm Dilthey, Edmund Husserl, and Hans-Georg Gadamer
• the Marxian tradition — both the theory of Karl Marx himself as well as the critical neo-Marxian theory of the Frankfurt School, i.e. Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse
• the sociological theories of Max Weber, Émile Durkheim, and George Herbert Mead
• the linguistic philosophy and speech act theories of Ludwig Wittgenstein, J.L. Austin, P. F. Strawson, Stephen Toulmin and John Searle
• the developmental psychology of Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg
• the American pragmatist tradition of Charles Sanders Peirce and John Dewey
• the sociological social systems theory of Talcott Parsons and Niklas Luhmann
• Neo-Kantian thought
Jürgen Habermas considers his major contribution to be the development of the concept and theory of communicative reason or communicative rationality, which distinguishes itself from the rationalist tradition by locating rationality in structures of interpersonal linguistic communication rather than in the structure of either the cosmos or the knowing subject. This social theory advances the goals of human emancipation, while maintaining an inclusive universalist moral framework. This framework rests on the argument called universal pragmatics - that all speech acts have an inherent telos (the Greek word for "end") — the goal of mutual understanding, and that human beings possess the communicative competence to bring about such understanding. Habermas built the framework out of the speech-act philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, and John Searle, the sociological theory of the interactional constitution of mind and self of George Herbert Mead, the theories of moral development of Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg, and the discourse ethics of his Heidelberg colleague Karl-Otto Apel.
Habermas works resonate within the traditions of Kant and the Enlightenment and of democratic socialism through his emphasis on the potential for transforming the world and arriving at a more humane, just, and egalitarian society through the realization of the human potential for reason, in part through discourse ethics. While Habermas has stated that the Enlightenment is an "unfinished project," he argues it should be corrected and complemented, not discarded. In this he distances himself from the Frankfurt School, criticizing it, as well as much of postmodernist thought, for excessive pessimism, misdirected radicalism and exaggerations.
Within sociology, Habermas's major contribution was the development of a comprehensive theory of societal evolution and modernization focusing on the difference between communicative rationality and rationalization on the one hand and strategic/instrumental rationality and rationalization on the other. This includes a critique from a communicative standpoint of the differentiation-based theory of social systems developed by Niklas Luhmann, a student of Talcott Parsons.
His defence of modernity and civil society has been a source of inspiration to others, and is considered a major philosophical alternative to the varieties of poststructuralism. He has also offered an influential analysis of late capitalism.
Habermas perceives the rationalization, humanization, and democratization of society in terms of the institutionalization of the potential for rationality that is inherent in the communicative competence that is unique to the human species. Habermas contends that communicative competence has developed through the course of evolution, but in contemporary society it is often suppressed or weakened by the way in which major domains of social life, such as the market, the state, and organizations, have been given over to or taken over by strategic/instrumental rationality, so that the logic of the system supplants that of the lifeworld.
 Reconstructive science
Habermas introduces the concept of “reconstructive science” with a double purpose: to place the “general theory of society” between philosophy and social science and re-establish the rift between the “great theorization” and the “empirical research”. The model of “rational reconstructions” represents the main thread of the surveys about the “structures” of the world of life (“culture”, “society” and “personality”) and their respective “functions” (cultural reproductions, social integrations and socialization). For this purpose, the dialectics between “symbolic representation” of “the structures subordinated to all worlds of life” (“internal relationships”) and the “material reproduction” of the social systems in their complex (“external relationships” between social systems and environment) has to be considered. This model finds an application, above all, in the “theory of the social evolution”, starting from the reconstruction of the necessary conditions for a phylogeny of the socio-cultural life forms (the “hominization”) until an analysis of the development of “social formations”, which Habermas subdivides into primitive, traditional, modern and contemporary formations. This paper is an attempt, primarily, to formalize the model of “reconstruction of the logic of development” of “social formations” summed up by Habermas through the differentiation between vital world and social systems (and, within them, through the “rationalization of the world of life” and the “growth in complexity of the social systems”). Secondly, it tries to offer some methodological clarifications about the “explanation of the dynamics” of “historical processes” and, in particular, about the “theoretical meaning” of the evolutional theory’s propositions. Even if the German sociologist considers that the “ex-post rational reconstructions” and “the models system/environment” cannot have a complete “historiographical application”, these certainly act as a general premise in the argumentative structure of the “historical explanation”.
(Abstract of Luca Corchia, Explicative models of complexity. The reconstructions of social evolution for Jürgen Habermas, in S. Balbi - G. Scepi - G. Russolillo - A. Stawinoga (eds.), Book of Short Abstracts, 7th International Conference on Social Science Methodology - RC33 - Logic and Methodology in Sociology, Napoli, Italia, 9.2008, Jovene Editore, 2008.
 The public sphere
For more details on this topic, see public sphere.
In The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere Jürgen Habermas developed the influential concept of the public sphere, which emerged in the eighteenth century in Europe as a space of critical discussion, open to all, where private people came together to form a public whose "public reason" would work as a check on state power. Habermas argues that prior to the 18th century, European culture had been dominated by a "representational" culture, where one party sought to "represent" itself on its audience by overwhelming its subjects.Louis XIV's Palace of Versailles was meant to show the greatness of the French state and its King by overpowering the senses of visitors to the Palace. Habermas identifies "representational" culture as corresponding to the feudal stage of development according to Marxist theory, arguing that the coming of the capitalist stage of development marked the appearance of Öffentlichkeit (the public sphere). In the culture characterized by Öffentlichkeit, there occurred a public space outside of the control by the state, where individuals exchanged views and knowledge. In Habermas's view, the growth in newspapers, journals, reading clubs, Masonic lodges, and coffee-houses in 18th century Europe, all in different ways, marked the gradual replacement of "representational" culture with Öffentlichkeit culture. Habermas argued that the essential characteristic of the Öffentlichkeit culture was its "critical" nature. Unlike "representational" culture where only one party was active and the other passive, the Öffentlichkeit culture was characterized by a dialogue as individuals either met in conversation, or exchanged views via the print media. Habermas maintains that as Britain was the most liberal country in Europe, the culture of the public sphere emerged there first around 1700, and the growth of Öffentlichkeit culture took place over most of the 18th century in Continental Europe. In his view, the French Revolution was in large part caused by the collapse of "representational" culture, and its replacement by Öffentlichkeit culture. Though Habermas' main concern in The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere was to expose what he regarded as the deceptive nature of free institutions in the West, his book had a major impact on the historiography of the French Revolution.
According to Habermas, a variety of factors resulted in the eventual decay of the public sphere, including the growth of a commercial mass media, which turned the critical public into a passive consumer public; and the welfare state, which merged the state with society so thoroughly that the public sphere was squeezed out. It also turned the "public sphere" into a site of self-interested contestation for the resources of the state rather than a space for the development of a public-minded rational consensus.
In his magnum opus Theory of Communicative Action (1981) he criticized the one-sided process of modernization led by forces of economic and administrative rationalization. Habermas traces the growing intervention of formal systems in our everyday lives as parallel to development of the welfare state, corporate capitalism and the culture of mass consumption. These reinforcing trends rationalize widening areas of public life, submitting them to a generalizing logic of efficiency and control. As routinized political parties and interest groups substitute for participatory democracy, society is increasingly administered at a level remote from input of citizens. As a result, boundaries between public and private, the individual and society, the system and the lifeworld are deteriorating. Democratic public life only thrives where institutions enable citizens to debate matters of public importance. He describes an ideal type of "ideal speech situation", where actors are equally endowed with the capacities of discourse, recognize each other's basic social equality and speech is undistorted by ideology or misrecognition. In this version of the consensus theory of truth Habermas maintains that truth is what would be agreed upon in an ideal speech situation.
Habermas has expressed optimistism about the possibility of the revival of the public sphere. He discerns a hope for the future in the new era of political community that transcends the nation-state based on ethnic and cultural likeness for one based on the equal rights and obligations of legally vested citizens. This deliberative theory of democracy requires a political community which can collectively define its political will and implement it as policy at the level of the legislative system. This political system requires an activist public sphere, where matters of common interest and political issues can be discussed, and the force of public opinion can influence the decision-making process.
Several noted academics have provided various criticisms of Habermas's notions regarding the public sphere. John B. Thompson, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, has pointed out that Habermas's notion of the public sphere is antiquated due to the proliferation of mass-media communications. Michael Schudson from the University of California, San Diego argues more generally that a public sphere as a place of purely rational independent debate never existed.
 Key Dialogues
 Historikerstreit (Historians' Quarrel)
Main article: Historikerstreit
Habermas is famous as a public intellectual as well as a scholar; most notably, in the 1980s he used the popular press to attack the German historians Ernst Nolte, Michael Stürmer, Klaus Hildebrand and Andreas Hillgruber. Habermas first expressed his views on the above-mentioned historians in the Die Zeit newspaper on July 11, 1986 in a feuilleton (opinion piece) entitled “A Kind of Settlement of Damages”. Habermas criticized the four historians for “apologistic” history writing in regards to the Nazi era, and for seeking to “close Germany’s opening to the West” that in Habermas’s view had existed since 1945. He argued that they had tried to detach Nazi rule and the Holocaust from the mainstream of German history, explain away Nazism as a reaction to Bolshevism, and partially rehabilitate the reputation of the Wehrmacht (German Army) during World War II. Habermas wrote that Stürmer was trying to create a "vicarious religion" in German history which together with the work of Hillgruber glorifying the last days of the German Army on the Eastern Front was intended to serve as a "...kind of NATO philosophy colored with German nationalism" The so-called Historikerstreit ("Historians' Quarrel") was not at all one-sided, because Habermas was himself attacked by scholars like Joachim Fest, Hagen Schulze, Horst Möller, Imanuel Geiss and Klaus Hildebrand In turn, Habermas was supported by historians such as Martin Broszat, Eberhard Jäckel, Hans Mommsen and Hans-Ulrich Wehler.
 Habermas and Derrida
Habermas and Jacques Derrida engaged in a series of disputes beginning in the 1980s and culminating in a mutual understanding and friendship in the late 1990s that lasted until Derrida died in 2004. They originally came in contact when Habermas invited Derrida to speak at The University of Frankfurt in 1984, the next year Habermas published "Beyond a Temporalized Philosophy of Origins: Derrida" in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity in which he described Derrida’s method as being unable to provide a foundation for social critique Derrida, citing Habermas as an example, remarked that, "those who have accused me of reducing philosophy to literature or logic to rhetoric ... have visibly and carefully avoided reading me". After Derrida’s final rebuttal in 1989 the two philosophers didn’t continue, but groups in the academy “conducted a kind of ‘war’, in which we ourselves never took part, either personally or directly” . Then at the end of the 1990s Habermas approached Derrida at a party held at a university in the United States where they were both lecturing. They then met at Paris over dinner, and afterwards have participated in many joint projects. In 2000 they held a joint seminar on problems of philosophy, right, ethics, and politics at the University of Frankfurt. In the aftermath of 9/11, Derrida and Habermas laid out their individual opinions on 9/11 and the War on Terror in Giovanna Borradori's Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida. In early 2003, both Habermas and Derrida were very active in opposing the coming Iraq War, and called for in a manifesto that later became the book Old Europe, New Europe, Core Europe for a tighter union of the states of the European Union in order to provide a power capable of opposing American foreign policy. Derrida wrote a foreword expressing his unqualified subscription to Habermas's declaration of February 2003, "February 15, or, What Binds Europeans Together: Plea for a Common Foreign Policy, Beginning in Core Europe,” in Old Europe, New Europe, Core Europe which was a reaction to the Bush administration demands upon European nations for support for the coming Iraq War. Habermas has offered further context for this declaration in an interview.
 Dialogue with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI)
In early 2007, Ignatius Press published a dialogue between Habermas and Roman Catholic Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), entitled The Dialectics of Secularization.
It addresses such important contemporary questions as these:
• Is a public culture of reason and ordered liberty possible in our post-metaphysical age?
• Is philosophy permanently cut adrift from its grounding in being and anthropology?
• Does this decline of rationality signal an opportunity or a deep crisis for religion itself?
In this debate a recent shift of Habermas became evident — in particular, his rethinking of the public role of religion. Habermas writes as a “methodological atheist,” which means that when doing philosophy or social science, he presumes nothing about particular religious beliefs. Yet whilst writing from this perspective his evolving position towards the role of religion in society has led him to some challenging questions, and as a result conceding some ground in his dialogue with the Pope, that would seem to have consequences which further complicate the positions he holds about a communicatively rational solution to the problems of modernity. In 1999 he stated that,
"For the normative self-understanding of modernity, Christianity has functioned as more than just a precursor or catalyst. Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of a continual critical reappropriation and reinterpretation. Up to this very day there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a post-national constellation, we must draw sustenance now, as in the past, from this substance. Everything else is idle postmodern talk."
The statement has been misquoted in a number of articles in American newspapers and magazines. 
Habermas now talks about the emergence of "post-secular societies" and argues that tolerance is a two-way street: secular people need to tolerate the role of religious people in the public square and vice versa.
 Major works
• The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1962) ISBN 0262581086
• Theory and Practice (1963)
• On the Logic of the Social Sciences (1967)
• Toward a Rational Society (1967)
• Technology and Science as Ideology (1968)
• Knowledge and Human Interests (1968)
• "On Social Identity". TELOS 19 (Spring 1974). New York: Telos Press
• Legitimation Crisis (1975)
• Communication and the Evolution of Society (1976)
• On the Pragmatics of Social Interaction (1976)
• The Theory of Communicative Action (1981)
• Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action (1983)
• Philosophical-Political Profiles (1983)
• The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (1985)
• The New Conservatism (1985)
• Postmetaphysical Thinking (1988)
• Justification and Application (1991)
• Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy (1992)
• On the Pragmatics of Communication (1992)
• The Inclusion of the Other (1996)
• A Berlin Republic (1997, collection of interviews with Habermas)
• The Postnational Constellation (1998)
• Rationality and Religion (1998)
• Truth and Justification (1998)
• The Future of Human Nature (2003) ISBN 0745629865
• Old Europe, New Europe, Core Europe (2005) ISBN 184467018X
• The Divided West (2006)
• The Dialectics of Secularization (2007, w/ Joseph Ratzinger)
• Between Naturalism and Religion: Philosophical Essays (2008)
 See also
• Brave New World argument
• Communicative action
• Constitutional patriotism
• Constellations (journal)
• The Foucault/Habermas debate
• Performative contradiction
• The 2005 Global Intellectuals Poll
1. ^ Blanning, T.C.W. The French Revolution Class War or Culture Clash?, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987, 1998 page 26
2. ^ Blanning, T.C.W. The French Revolution Class War or Culture Clash?, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998 page 26
3. ^ a b Blanning, T.C.W. The French Revolution Class War or Culture Clash?, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998 pages 26-27
4. ^ Blanning, T.C.W. The French Revolution Class War or Culture Clash?, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987, 1998 page 27
5. ^ a b c d e Blanning, T.C.W. The French Revolution Class War or Culture Clash?, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998 page 27
6. ^ http://books.google.com/books?ie=UTF-8&vid=ISBN0802087612&id=tKDU3l3cq60C&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=ideal+speech+situation&sig=EsYFyIjaDQsWsYWUgtjvMK-13gU
7. ^ Habermas, Jürgen “A Kind of Settlement of Damages On Apologetic Tendencies In German History Writing” pages 34-44 from Forever In the Shadow of Hitler? edited by Ernst Piper, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, 1993 page 43
8. ^ Habermas,Jürgen "A Kind of Settlement of Damages" page 34-44 from Forever In The Shadow of Hitler? edited by Ernst Piper, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, 1993 pages 42-43
9. ^ Fest, Joachim "Encumbered Remembrance: The Controversy about the Incomparability of National-Socialist Mass Crimes" pages 63-71 & “Postscript, April 21, 1987” pages 264-265 from Forever In The Shadow of Hitler? edited by Ernst Piper, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, 1993 pages 64-65.
10. ^ Schulze, Hagen “Questions We Have To Face: No Historical Stance without National Identity” pages 93-97 from Forever In The Shadow of Hitler? edited by Ernst Piper, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, 1993 page 94
11. ^ Möller, Horst “What May Not Be, Cannot Be: A Plea for Rendering Factual the Controversy about Recent History” pages 216-221 Forever In The Shadow of Hitler? edited by Ernst Piper, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, 1993 pages 216-218
12. ^ Geiss, Imanuel "On the Historikerstreit" pages 254-258 from Forever In The Shadow Of Hitler? edited by Ernst Piper, Atlantic Highlands, N.J. : Humanities Press, 1993 page 256
13. ^ Hildebrand, Klaus "The Age of Tyrants: History and Politics The Administrators of the Enlightenment, the Risk of Scholarship and the Preservation of a Worldview A Reply to Jürgen Habermas" pages 50-55 & “He Who Wants To Escape the Abyss Will Have Sound It Very Precisely: Is the New German History Writing Revisionist?” pages 188-195 from Forever In The Shadow of Hitler? edited by Ernst Piper, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, 1993.
14. ^ Broszat, Martin “Where the Roads Part: History Is Not A Suitable Substitute for a Religion of Nationalism” pages 123-129 Forever In The Shadow of Hitler? edited by Ernst Piper, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, 1993 page 127
15. ^ Jäckel, Eberhard “The Impoverished Practice of Insinuation: The Singular Aspect of National Socialist Crimes Cannot Be Denied” pages 74-78 from Forever In The Shadow of Hitler? edited by Ernst Piper, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, 1993 pages 74-75
16. ^ Mommsen, Hans “The New Historical Consciousness and the Relativizing of National Socialism” pages 114-124 from Forever In The Shadow of Hitler? edited by Ernst Piper, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, 1993 pages 114-115.
17. ^ Evans, Richard In Hitler's Shadow, New York : Pantheon Books, 1989 pages 159-160
18. ^ a b c Derrida, J. “Honesty of Thought” in ‘’The Derrida-Habermas Reader’’ ed. Thomassen L. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago Ill. Pp. 300-306. P.302
19. ^ Thomassen, L. “Introduction: Between Deconstruction and Rational Reconstruction” in ‘’The Derrida-Habermas Reader’’ ed. Thomassen L. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago Ill. Pp. 1-7. P.2
20. ^ Derrida, J. “Is There a Philosophical Language?” in ‘’The Derrida-Habermas Reader’’ ed. Thomassen L. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago Ill. Pp. 35-45. P.37
21. ^ Habermas, J. and Derrida, J. “February 15, Or What Binds Europeans Together: A Plea for a Common Foreign Policy, beginning in the Core of Europe” in ‘’The Derrida-Habermas Reader’’ ed. Thomassen L. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago Ill. Pp. 270-277. P.302
22. ^ Habermas, Jurgen, Religion and Rationality: Essays on Reason, God, and Modernity, edited by Eduardo Mendieta, MIT Press, 2002, page. 149. And Habermas, Jurgen, Time of Transitions, Polity Press, 2006, page. 150-151.
23. ^ See Christian Science Monitor, September 15, 2006; Foreign Policy, June 2007 (web version by Philip Jenkins); Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2007, and Philip Jenkins's book "God's Continent" (Oxford University Press, 2007) p. 263.
24. ^ A “post-secular” society – what does that mean? by Jurgen Habermas June 2008
• Jürgen Habermas: a philosophical—political profile by Marvin Rintala, Perspectives on Political Science , 2002-01-01
• Jürgen Habermas by Martin Matuštík (2001) ISBN 0742507963
• Postnational identity: critical theory and existential philosophy in Habermas, Kierkegaard, and Havel by Martin Matuštík (1993) ISBN 0898624207
• Thomas McCarthy, The Critical Theory of Jürgen Habermas, MIT Press, 1978.
A highly regarded interpretation in English of Habermas's earlier work, written just as Habermas was developing his full-fledged communication theory.
• Raymond Geuss, The Idea of a Critical Theory, Cambridge University Press, 1981.
A clear account of Habermas' early philosophical views.
• J.G. Finlayson, Habermas: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2004.
A recent, brief introduction to Habermas, focusing on his communication theory of society.
• Jane Braaten, Habermas's Critical Theory of Society, State University of New York Press, 1991. ISBN 0791407594
• Erik Oddvar Eriksen and Jarle Weigard, Understanding Habermas: Communicative Action and Deliberative Democracy, Continuum International Publishing, 2004 (ISBN 082647179X).
A recent and comprehensive introduction to Habermas' mature theory and its political implications both national and global.
• Detlef Horster. Habermas: An Introduction." Pennbridge, 1992 (ISBN 1-880055-01-5)
• Martin Jay, Marxism and Totality: The Adventures of a Concept from Lukacs to Habermas (Chapter 9), University of California Press, 1986. (ISBN 0-520-05742-2)
• Ernst Piper (editor) "Historikerstreit": Die Dokumentation der Kontroverse um die Einzigartigkeit der nationalsozialistschen Judenvernichtung, Munich: Piper, 1987 translated into English by James Knowlton and Truett Cates as Forever In The Shadow Of Hitler? : Original Documents Of the Historikerstreit, The Controversy Concerning The Singularity Of The Holocaust, Atlantic Highlands, N.J. : Humanities Press, 1993, (ISBN 0391037846) Contains Habermas's essays from the Historikerstreit and the reactions of various scholars to his statements.
• Mike Sandbothe, Habermas, Pragmatism, and the Media, Online publication: sandbothe.net 2008; German original in: Über Habermas. Gespräche mit Zeitgenossen, ed. by Michael Funken, Darmstadt: Primus 2008
• 1985: Geschwister-Scholl-Preis for his work, Die neue Unübersichtlichkeit.
• 1987: The Sonning Prize (Danish: "Sonningprisen") awarded biennially for outstanding contributions to European culture
• 2003: The Prince of Asturias Foundation in Social Sciences.
• 2004: Kyoto Prize (50 million Yen).
• 2005: Holberg International Memorial Prize of the Norwegian Ludvig Holberg Memorial Fund (520.000 Euro).
• 2008: European Prize of Political Culture (Hans Ringier Foundation) at the Locarno Film Festival (50.000 Euro).
On Society and Politics
Jurgen Habermas represents the second wave of Critical Theory. He was not a contemporary of the other members of the Frankfurt school However, he is included in the school of thought because his work continues the critique that the others began. Habermas has written more, and added more to Marxist theory that all the other members of the Frankfurt school. In his work Towards Reconstructing Historical Materialism, Habermas laid out his primary differences with Marx.
Habermas’s primary difficulty with society is that in modern society human beings lack freedom. His primary difficulty with Marxism is that it fails to consider the scope of this lack of freedom. According to Habermas, Marx leaves out the human element. Marx assessment of human evolution as just an economic progression is far too narrow for Habermas. Jurgen asserts that it is societies that evolve economically, instead of the species, he goes on to say that Historical Materialism assumes a learning process. For Habermas, this process becomes a dynamic element in the move from one epoch to another. Where Marx supposed the move to be linear (one step at a time in a straight line), and deterministic, (with a known end), Habermas said it was unpredictable.
Habermas almost completely eliminated the notions of revolution and class struggle from the theory. Instead of these, he introduces the concept of crisis. The crisis is that modern society is not meeting individual needs and that institutions in society are manipulating individuals. People interact to respond to this crisis and Habermas calls this interaction Communicative Action. Habermas adapted Horkheimer’s definition of reason as rationality, then, combines it with the relation based activities that results when humans agree. Communicative action, it is the one type of action, that Habermas says uses all human ways of thinking, and language. This combination allows human beings to understand and agree with one another, to make plans for common action. This coming together and agreeing; communicative action, takes the place of revolution as mode of change. According to Habermas the move from Capitalism to Communism, (if it occurs), will occur as a result of reason and communicative action.
Habermas adds the methodology of psychology and linguistics to his critique, and attempts to move the analysis of Marxism to Social Scientific inquiry. As far a solution, Habermas’s approach offers the process of Communicative Action as the solution. He implies that implementing his theory, and analyzing it will address the ills created by modern society. On the whole, Habermas’s contribution to the Frankfurt school is significant to say the least. It will undoubtedly be revisited as the philosophical conversation continues.
Habermas, the Public Sphere, and Democracy: A Critical Intervention
Douglas Kellner http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/kellner.html
Jurgen Habermas's The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere is an immensely rich and influential book that has had major impact in a variety of disciplines. It has also received detailed critique and promoted extremely productive discussions of liberal democracy, civil society, public life, and social changes in the twentieth century, among other issues. Few books of the second half of the twentieth century have been so seriously discussed in so many different fields and continue, almost forty years after its initial publication in 1962, to generate such productive controversy and insight. While Habermas's thought took several crucial philosophical twists and turns after the publication of his first major book, he has himself provided detailed commentary on Structural Transformation in the 1990s and returned to issues of the public sphere and democratic theory in his monumental work Between Facts and Norms. Hence, concern with the public sphere and the necessary conditions for a genuine democracy can be seen as a central theme of Habermas's work that deserves respect and critical scrutiny.
In this paper, I will first explicate Habermas's concept of the public sphere and its structural transformation in his early writings and then will note how he takes up similar themes in his recent 1990s work within the context of a structural transformation of his own work in his linguistic turn. After setting out a variety of critiques which his analysis has elicited, including some of my own, I attempt to develop the notion of the public sphere in the contemporary era. Hence, my study intends to point to the continuing importance of Habermas's problematic and its relevance for debates over democratic politics and social and cultural life in the present age. At stake is delineating a concept of the public sphere which facilitates maximum public participation and debate over the key issues of the current conjuncture and which consequently promotes the cause of participatory democracy.
Habermas Within the Frankfurt School: Origins and Genesis of Structural Transformations of the Public Sphere
The history and initial controversy over The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere are best perceived within the context of Habermas's work with the Institute for Social Research. After studying with Horkheimer and Adorno in Frankfurt, Germany in the 1950s, Habermas investigated both the ways that a new public sphere emerged during the time of the Enlightenment and the American and French revolutions and how it promoted political discussion and debate. As I indicate below, Habermas developed his study within the context of the Institute analysis of the transition from the stage of liberal market capitalism of the 19th century to the stage of state and monopoly organized capitalism of the 20th century developed by the Frankfurt School (see Kellner 1989).
Indeed, Habermas's 1960s works are firmly within the tradition and concerns of the Institute for Social Research. One of his first published articles provided critical perspectives on the consumer society and other early texts contained studies of rationalization, work and leisure, the media, public opinion, and the public sphere (Habermas 1972). Subsequent works undertaken in the context of developing Institute positions include interventions in the positivism debate where Habermas defended the Frankfurt School conception of a dialectical social theory with practical intent against the conception of a positivistic social theory (Habermas 1976). And in Theory and Practice, Habermas maintained the unity of theory and practice central to classical Marxism and the critical theory of society, while fleshing out the moral and political dimensions of critical theory (Habermas 1973).
Habermas's initial works with the Institute for Social Research concerned studies of the political opinions and potential of students. In an examination of Student und Politik (published in 1961), Habermas and two empirically oriented members of the Institute carried out "a sociological investigation of the political consciousness of Frankfurt students" (13ff.). The study was similar to the Institute's earlier Gruppenexperiment which had attempted to discern the democratic and anti-democratic potential in wide sectors of German society after World War Two through survey analysis and in-depth interviews (Pollock 1955). Just as earlier Institute studies of the German working class and post-World War Two German citizens disclosed a high degree of political apathy and authoritarian-conservative dispositions (see Fromm 1989), so too did the surveys of German students disclose an extremely low percentage (4%) of "genuinely democratic" students contrasted with 6% rigid authoritarians. Similarly, only 9% exhibited what the authors considered a "definite democratic potential," while 16% exhibited a "definite authoritarian potential" (Habermas, et. al, 1961: 234). And within the more apathetic and contradictory attitudes and tendencies of the majority, a larger number were inclined more toward authoritarian than democratic orientations.
Habermas wrote the introduction to the study, "On the Concept of Political Participation," which provided the conception of an authentically democratic political participation that was used as a norm to measure student attitudes, views, and behavior. As he was later to do in his studies of the public sphere, Habermas sketched out various conceptions of democracy ranging from Greek democracy to the forms of bourgeois democracy to current notions of democracy in welfare state capitalism. In particular, he contrasted the participatory democracy of the Greeks and radical democratic movements with the representative, parliamentary bourgeois democracy of the 19th century and the current attempts at reducing citizen participation in the welfare state. Habermas defended the earlier "radical sense of democracy" in which the people themselves would be sovereign in both the political and the economic realms against current forms of parliamentary democracy. Hence, Habermas aligns himself with the current of "strong democracy" associated with Rousseau, Marx, and Dewey.
In his early study of students and politics, Habermas defended principles of popular sovereignty, formal law, constitutionally guaranteed rights, and civil liberties as part of the progressive heritage of bourgeois society. His strategy was to use the earlier model of bourgeois democracy to criticize its later degeneration and decline, and thus to develop a normative concept of democracy which he could use as a standard for an "immanent critique" of existing welfare state democracy. Habermas believed that both Marx and the earlier Frankfurt School had underestimated the importance of principles of universal law, rights, and sovereignty, and that a re-democratization of radical social theory was thus a crucial task.
Student und Politik was published in 1961 and during the same period student radicals in the United States developed similar conceptions of participatory democracy, including emphasis on economic democracy. Henceforth, Habermas himself would be concerned in various ways and contexts to develop theories of democratization and political participation. Indeed, from the beginning of his career to the present, Habermas's work has been distinguished by its emphasis on radical democracy, and this political foundation is an important and often overlooked subtext of many of his works.
Habermas conceived of his study of the bourgeois public sphere as a Habilitationschrift, a post-doctorate dissertation required in Germany for ascension to a Professorship. Calhoun claims that Adorno and Horkheimer rejected the dissertation, finding it insufficiently critical of the ideology of liberal democracy (see Calhoun 1992: 4f). Wiggershaus, however, claimed that "Adorno, who was proud of him, would have liked to accept the thesis", but that Horkheimer believed Habermas was too radical and made unacceptable demands for revision, thus, in effect, driving away the Institute's most promising student and forcing him to seek employment elsewhere (1996: 555).
Habermas submitted the dissertation to Wolfgang Abenroth at Marburg, one of the new Marxist professors in Germany at the time and in 1961 became a Privatdozent in Marburg, while receiving a professorship in Heidelberg in 1962. In 1964, strongly supported by Adorno, Habermas returned to Frankfurt to take over Horkheimer's chair in philosophy and sociology. Thus, Adorno was ultimately able to bestow the crown of legitimate succession on the person who he thought was the most deserving and capable critical theorist (Wiggershaus 1996: 628).
The Dialectics of the Public Sphere
Habermas's focus on democratization was linked with emphasis on political participation as the core of a democratic society and as an essential element in individual self-development. His study The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere was published in 1962 and contrasted various forms of an active, participatory bourgeois public sphere in the heroic era of liberal democracy with the more privatized forms of spectator politics in a bureaucratic industrial society in which the media and elites controlled the public sphere. The two major themes of the book include analysis of the historical genesis of the bourgeois public sphere, followed by an account of the structural change of the public sphere in the contemporary era with the rise of state capitalism, the culture industries, and the increasingly powerful positions of economic corporations and big business in public life. On this account, big economic and governmental organizations took over the public sphere, while citizens became content to become primarily consumers of goods, services, political administration, and spectacle.
Generalizing from developments in Britain, France, and Germany in the late 18th and 19th century, Habermas first sketched out a model of what he called the "bourgeois public sphere" and then analyzed its degeneration in the 20th century. As Habermas puts it in the Preface to the book: "Our investigation presents a stylized picture of the liberal elements of the bourgeois public sphere and of their transformation in the social-welfare state" (Habermas 1989a: xix). The project draws on a variety of disciplines including philosophy, social theory, economics, and history, and thus instantiates the Institute for Social Research mode of a supradisciplinary social theory. Its historical optic grounds it in the Institute project of developing a critical theory of the contemporary era and its political aspirations position it as critique of the decline of democracy in the present age and a call for its renewal -- themes that would remain central to Habermas's thought.
After delineating the idea of the bourgeois public sphere, public opinion, and publicity (Offentlichkeit), Habermas analyzes the social structures, political functions, and concept and ideology of the public sphere, before depicting the social-structural transformation of the public sphere, changes in its public functions, and shifts in the concept of public opinion in the concluding three chapters. The text is marked by the conceptual rigor and fertility of ideas characteristic of Habermas's writing, but contains more substantive historical grounding than much of his work and in retrospect discloses the matrix out of which his later work emerges. My summaries in the following sections merely highlight a few of the key ideas of importance for explicating the conception of the public sphere and its structural transformation which will help to evaluate the significance and limitations of Habermas's work for elucidating the conditions of democracy in contemporary society.
The bourgeois public sphere, which began appearing around 1700 in Habermas's interpretation, was to mediate between the private concerns of individuals in their familial, economic, and social life contrasted to the demands and concerns of social and public life. This involved mediation of the contradiction between bourgeois and citoyen, to use terms developed by Hegel and the early Marx, overcoming private interests and opinions to discover common interests and to reach societal consensus. The public sphere consisted of organs of information and political debate such as newspapers and journals, as well as institutions of political discussion such as parliaments, political clubs, literary salons, public assemblies, pubs and coffee houses, meeting halls, and other public spaces where socio-political discussion took place. For the first time in history, individuals and groups could shape public opinion, giving direct expression to their needs and interests while influencing political practice. The bourgeois public sphere made it possible to form a realm of public opinion that opposed state power and the powerful interests that were coming to shape bourgeois society.
Habermas's concept of the public sphere thus described a space of institutions and practices between the private interests of everyday life in civil society and the realm of state power. The public sphere thus mediates between the domains of the family and the workplace -- where private interests prevail -- and the state which often exerts arbitrary forms of power and domination. What Habermas called the "bourgeois public sphere" consisted of social spaces where individuals gathered to discuss their common public affairs and to organize against arbitrary and oppressive forms of social and public power.
The principles of the public sphere involved an open discussion of all issues of general concern in which discursive argumentation was employed to ascertain general interests and the public good. The public sphere thus presupposed freedoms of speech and assembly, a free press, and the right to freely participate in political debate and decision-making. After the democratic revolutions, Habermas suggested, the bourgeois public sphere was institutionalized in constitutional orders which guaranteed a wide range of political rights, and which established a judicial system that was to mediate between claims between various individuals or groups, or between individuals and groups and the state.
Many defenders and critics of Habermas's notion of the bourgeois public sphere fail to note that the thrust of his study is precisely that of transformation, of the mutations of the public sphere from a space of rational discussion, debate, and consensus to a realm of mass cultural consumption and administration by corporations and dominant elites. This analysis assumes and builds on the Frankfurt School model of the transition from market capitalism and liberal democracy in the 19th century to the stage of state and monopoly capitalism evident in European fascism and the welfare state liberalism of the New Deal in the U.S. in the 1930s. For the Institute, this constituted a new stage of history, marked by fusion between the economic and political spheres, a manipulative culture industry, and an administered society, characterized by a decline of democracy, individuality, and freedom (see the texts in Bronner and Kellner 1989 and the discussion in Kellner 1989).
Habermas added historical grounding to the Institute theory, arguing that a "refeudalization" of the public sphere began occurring in the late 19th century. The transformation involved private interests assuming direct political functions, as powerful corporations came to control and manipulate the media and state. On the other hand, the state began to play a more fundamental role in the private realm and everyday life, thus eroding the difference between state and civil society, between the public and private sphere. As the public sphere declined, citizens became consumers, dedicating themselves more to passive consumption and private concerns than to issues of the common good and democratic participation.
While in the bourgeois public sphere, public opinion, on Habermas's analysis, was formed by political debate and consensus, in the debased public sphere of welfare state capitalism, public opinion is administered by political, economic, and media elites which manage public opinion as part of systems management and social control. Thus, while in an earlier stage of bourgeois development, public opinion was formed in open political debate concerning interests of common concern that attempted to forge a consensus in regard to general interests, in the contemporary stage of capitalism, public opinion was formed by dominant elites and thus represented for the most part their particular private interests. No longer is rational consensus among individuals and groups in the interests of articulation of common goods the norm. Instead, struggle among groups to advance their own private interests characterizes the scene of contemporary politics.
Hence, Habermas describes a transition from the liberal public sphere which originated in the Enlightenment and the American and French Revolution to a media-dominated public sphere in the current era of what he calls "welfare state capitalism and mass democracy." This historical transformation is grounded, as noted, in Horkheimer and Adorno's analysis of the culture industry, in which giant corporations have taken over the public sphere and transformed it from a sphere of rational debate into one of manipulative consumption and passivity. In this transformation, "public opinion" shifts from rational consensus emerging from debate, discussion, and reflection to the manufactured opinion of polls or media experts. Rational debate and consensus has thus been replaced by managed discussion and manipulation by the machinations of advertising and political consulting agencies: "Publicity loses its critical function in favor of a staged display; even arguments are transmuted into symbols to which again one can not respond by arguing but only by identifying with them" (1989a: 206).
For Habermas, the function of the media have thus been transformed from facilitating rational discourse and debate within the public sphere into shaping, constructing, and limiting public discourse to those themes validated and approved by media corporations. Hence, the interconnection between a sphere of public debate and individual participation has been fractured and transmuted into that of a realm of political information and spectacle, in which citizen-consumers ingest and absorb passively entertainment and information. "Citizens" thus become spectators of media presentations and discourse which mold public opinion, reducing consumer/citizens to objects of news, information, and public affairs. In Habermas's words: "Inasmuch as the mass media today strip away the literary husks from the kind of bourgeois self-interpretation and utilize them as marketable forms for the public services provided in a culture of consumers, the original meaning is reversed (1989a: 171).
Habermas offered tentative proposals to revitalize the public sphere by setting "in motion a critical process of public communication through the very organizations that mediatize it" (1989a: 232). He concluded with the suggestion that "a critical publicity brought to life within intraorganizational public spheres" might lead to democratization of the major institutions of civil society, though he did not provide concrete examples, propose any strategies, or sketch out the features of an oppositional or post-bourgeois public sphere. Still, Horkheimer found Habermas's works to be too left-wing, in effect rejected the study as a Habilitations dissertation and refused to publish it in the Institute monograph series (see Wiggershaus 1996: 555ff.). It was published, however, in 1962 and received both an enthusiastic and critical reception in Germany; when translated into English in 1989, it promoted yet more discussion of Habermas and the public sphere, lively debates still continuing, as my study will indicate.
Habermas and the Public Sphere: Critical Debates
Habermas's study of the public sphere has been subjected to intense critical argumentation which has clarified his earlier positions, led to revisions in later writings, and has fostered intense historical and conceptual research into the public sphere itself. Few books have been so systematically discussed, criticized, and debated, or inspired so much theoretical and historical analysis. The result, I believe, is considerably better understanding of the many dimensions of the public sphere and democracy itself.
Habermas's critics argue that he idealizes the earlier bourgeois public sphere by presenting it as a forum of rational discussion and debate when in fact certain groups were excluded and participation was thus limited. Habermas concedes that he presents a "stylized picture of the liberal elements of the bourgeois public sphere" (Habermas 1989a: xix), and should have made it clearer that he was establishing an "ideal type" and not a normative ideal to be resuscitated and brought back to life (Habermas 1992: 422f). Indeed, it is clear that a certain idealization of the public sphere was present in Habermas's text, but I believe that this accounts both for its positive reception and a good deal of the critique. On the affirmative side, precisely the normative aura of the book inspired many to imagine and cultivate more inclusive, egalitarian, and democratic public spaces and forums; others were inspired to conceive of more oppositional democratic spaces as site of the development of alternative cultures to established institutions and spaces. Habermas thus provided decisive impetus for discussions concerning the democratization of the public sphere and civil society, and the normative dimension helped generate productive discussions of the public sphere and democracy.
Yet Habermas's idealization of the earlier bourgeois public sphere as a space of rational discussion and consensus has been sharply criticized. It is doubtful if democratic politics were ever fueled by norms of rationality or public opinion formed by rational debate and consensus to the extent stylized in Habermas's concept of the bourgeois public sphere. Politics throughout the modern era have been subject to the play of interests and power as well as discussion and debate. It is probably only a few Western bourgeois societies that have developed any public sphere at all in Habermas's sense, and while it is salutary to construct models of a good society that could help to realize agreed upon democratic and egalitarian values, it is a mistake to overly idealize and universalize any specific public sphere as in Habermas's account.
Moreover, while the concept of the public sphere and democracy assume a liberal and populist celebration of diversity, tolerance, debate, and consensus, in actuality, the bourgeois public sphere was dominated by white, property-owning males. As Habermas's critics have documented, working class, plebeian, and women's public spheres developed alongside of the bourgeois public sphere to represent voices and interests excluded in this forum. Oskar Negt and Alexander Kluge criticized Habermas for neglect of plebeian and proletarian public spheres (1972 [1996)] and in reflection Habermas has written that he now realizes that "from the beginning a dominant bourgeois public collides with a plebeian one" and that he "underestimated" the significance of oppositional and non-bourgeois public spheres (1992: 430).
Hence, rather than conceiving of one liberal or democratic public sphere, it is more productive to theorize a multiplicity of public spheres, sometimes overlapping but also conflicting. These include public spheres of excluded groups, as well as more mainstream configurations. Moreover, as I argue below, the public sphere itself shifts with the rise of new social movements, new technologies, and new spaces of public interaction.
Mary Ryan notes the irony that not only did Habermas neglect women's public spheres, but marks the decline of the public sphere precisely at the moment when women were beginning to get political power and become actors (1992: 259ff). Indeed, the 1999 PbS documentary by Ken Burns Not For Ourselves Alone vividly illustrates the vitality of a women's public sphere in 19th century America, documenting the incredible organizing efforts of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cary Stanton, and others from the 1840s well into the 20th century in a sustained struggle for the vote and women's rights. A visit to the Hull House in Chicago reveals the astonishing interventions into the public sphere of Jane Adams and her colleagues in developing forms and norms of public housing, health, education, welfare, rights and reforms in the legal and penal system, and public arts (see the texts in Bryan and Davis 1969). These and other women's groups discussed in Ryan (1992) were an extremely active element in a vital women's public sphere.
Indeed, Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States (1995) and Lawrence Goodwin's The Populist Movement (19xx) document the presence of oppositional movements and public spheres throughout U.S. history to the present. Reflections on the civil rights movement in the U.S., the 1960s movements, and the continuation of "new social movements" into the 1970s and beyond, suggest that Habermas's analysis downplays the continuing richness and vitality of the public sphere well into the 20th century. And in a concluding section, I will suggest how activities in the new public spheres of cyberspace provide further expansion of the public sphere and new sites for democratic politics.
Despite the limitations of his analysis, Habermas is right that in the era of the democratic revolutions a public sphere emerged in which for the first time in history ordinary citizens could participate in political discussion and debate, organize, and struggle against unjust authority, while militating for social change, and that this sphere was institutionalized, however imperfectly, in later developments of Western societies. Habermas's account of the structural transformation of the public sphere, despite its limitations, also points to the increasingly important functions of the media in politics and everyday life and the ways that corporate interests have colonized this sphere, using the media and culture to promote their own interests.
Yet in retrospect, Habermas's analysis is too deeply embedded in Horkheimer and Adorno's philosophy of history in Dialectic of Enlightenment and theories of mass society which became a dominant paradigm in the 1950s. As noted, Habermas's account assumes the validity of the Institute analysis of the culture industry, that giant corporations have taken over the public sphere and transformed it from a sphere of rational debate into one of manipulative consumption and passivity. Moreover, like Horkheimer and Adorno who nostalgically look back to and idealize previous forms of the family, so too does Habermas's Transformations idealize the earlier bourgeois public sphere -- despite its limitations and restrictions repeatedly pointed out by his critics.
It is not just his colleagues Horkheimer and Adorno, however, who influenced this conception, but also participants in debates over mass culture and communications in the U.S. in the 1950s and in particular C. Wright Mills. Although Habermas concludes Transformations with extensive quotes from Mills' Power Elite on the metamorphosis of the public into a mass in the contemporary media/consumer society, I have not been able to find in the vast literature on Habermas's concept of the public sphere discussion of the significance of Mills' work for Habermas's analysis of the structural transformation of the public sphere.
C. Wright Mills himself tended to utilize the Institute models of the media as agents of manipulation and social control, although he sometimes qualified the media's power to directly and consistently manipulate the public. In White Collar, Mills (1951) stressed the crucial role of the mass media in shaping individual behavior and inducing conformity to middle class values. He argued that the media are increasingly shaping individual aspirations and behavior and are above all promoting values of "individual success." He also believed that entertainment media were especially potent instruments of social control because "popular culture is not tagged as 'propaganda' but as entertainment; people are often exposed to it when most relaxed of mind and tired of body; and its characters offer easy targets of identification, easy answers to stereotyped personal problems" (ibid, p. 336).
Mills analyzed the banalization of politics in the media through which "the mass media plug for ruling political symbols and personalities." Perceiving the parallel between marketing commodities and selling politicians, Mills analyzed tendencies toward the commodification of politics, and in The Power Elite, he focused on the manipulative functions of media in shaping public opinion and strengthening the power of the dominant elites (Mills 1956). In an analysis that anticipated Habermas' theory, Mills discusses the shift from a social order consisting of "communities, of publics," in which individuals participated in political and social debate and action, to a "mass society" characterized by the "transformation of public into mass" (298ff.). The impact of the mass media is crucial in this "great transformation" for it shifts "the ratio of givers of opinion to the receivers" in favor of small groups of elites, who control or have access to the mass media. Moreover, the mass media engage in one-way communication that does not allow feedback, thus obliterating another feature of a democratic public sphere. In addition, the media rarely encourage participation in public action. In these ways, they foster social passivity and the fragmentation of the public sphere into privatized consumers.
When I presented this interpretation of Habermas's conception of the bourgeois public sphere in a conference at Starnberg in 1981 (see Kellner 1983), he acknowledged that indeed conceptions of Horkheimer and Adorno and C. Wright Mills influenced his analysis and indicated that he saw his work as providing a historical grounding for Horkheimer and Adorno's theory of the culture industries and that Mills provided a contemporary updating and validation of the Institute model. Yet in terms of finding both a standpoint and strategy of critique, as well as a practical politics to revitalize democracy, the analyses of Horkheimer, Adorno, and the early Habermas have led to a cul-de-sac. In the analyses of the culture industry and public sphere in Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment and Habermas's Structural Transformation, the Institute strategy of immanent critique could not be used, there was no institutional basis to promote democratization, and no social actors to relate theory to practice and to strengthen democratic social movements and transformation. Hence, critical theory reached a deadend with no robust normative grounds for critique or social forces capable of transforming existing society.
In the 1930s, the Institute had used the method of immanent critique by which they criticized fascist and totalitarian societies from the standpoint of Enlightenment concepts of democracy, human rights, individual and social freedoms, and rationality. In this way, the Frankfurt School used standards "immanent" to bourgeois society to criticize distortions in its later developments in fascism. But Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment, written in the 1940s and first published in 1947, showed how Enlightenment norms had turned into their opposite, how democracy had produced fascism, reason had produced unreason, as instrumental rationality created military machines and death camps, and the culture industries were transforming culture from an instrument of Bildung and enlightenment into an instrument of manipulation and domination (see the discussion in Kellner 1989, Chapter 4). In this situation, the procedure of using "bourgeois ideals as norms of critique"
[has] been refuted by the civilized barbarism of the twentieth century. When these bourgeois ideals are cashed in, when the consciousness turns cynical, the commitment to those norms and value orientations that the critique of ideology must presuppose for its appeal to find a hearing becomes defunct. I suggested, therefore, that the normative foundations of the critical theory of society be laid at a deeper level. The theory of communicative action intends to bring into the open the rational potential intrinsic in everyday communicative practices (1992: 442).
Like Horkheimer and Adorno in Dialectic of Enlightenment, Habermas had produced an account of how the bourgeois public sphere had turned into its opposite. Recognizing that using an earlier form of social organization to criticize its later deformation was nostalgic, Habermas called for a renewed democratization of public institutions and spaces at the end of Structural Transformation (1989: 248ff), but this was merely a moral exhortation with no discernible institutional basis or social movements to realize the call. Hence, both to discern a new standpoint for critique, to provide new philosophical bases for critical theory, and to contribute a new force for democratization, Habermas turned to the sphere of language and communication to find norms for critique and an anthropological basis to promote his calls for democratization.
The Linguistic Turn
Habermas's argument is that language itself contains norms to criticize domination and oppression and a force that could ground and promote societal democratization. In the capacity to understand the speech of another, to submit to the force of a better argument, and to reach consensus, Habermas found a rationality inherent in what he came to call "communicative action" that could generate norms to criticize distortions of communication in processes of societal domination and manipulation and cultivate a process of rational discursive will-formation. Developing what he called an "ideal speech situation," Habermas thus cultivated quasi-transcendental grounds for social critique and a model for more democratic social communication and interaction.
Consequently, Habermas made his linguistic turn and shifted to language and communication as a basis at once for social critique, democratization, and to establish critical theory on a stronger theoretical foundation to overcome the impasse that he believed that Frankfurt School had become trapped in. Over the past several decades, Habermas has been arguing that language and communication are a central feature of the human lifeworld that can resist the systemic imperatives of money and power which undermine communicative structures. This project has both generated a wealth of theoretical discussions and has provided normative bases for social critique and democratization.
Habermas's theory of communicative action, his linguistic turn, and quasi-transcendental grounding of language have received a tremendous amount of commentary and criticism which I will merely allude to here to promote further critical discussion of his conceptions of democracy and the public sphere. I do want to stress, however, since this is often overlooked, that it was not just theoretical imperatives and insights that led Habermas to his concern with language and communication, but the deadlock that he and the Frankfurt School had reached and the need for stronger bases of socio-political criticism and democratization. Hence, while, as I will argue, there are continuities between Habermas's early analysis of the public sphere, there are also important alterations in his theory.
For starters, Habermas switches his focus from the socio-historical and institutional mooring of critical theory in Structural Transformation to a more philosophical ground in his post-1970s philosophical works. This has serious implications, I believe, for his theory of language and communication. In the contemporary highly historicist and constructivist milieu, it is often remarked that Habermas's notion of language is too universalistic and ahistorical. On the constructivist and historicist view, language itself is a socio-historical construct, with its own rules, conventions, and history. Meanings and uses shift over time, while different societies have their own language games and forms of language and communication, which are subject to a multiplicity of varying social forces and powers.
Indeed, for contemporary poststructuralist theory, language and communication are integrally embedded in power in an existing social system, they serve interests of domination and manipulation as much as enlightenment and understanding, and are subject to historically contingent and specific constraints and biases. Hence, on this view, language in contemporary society is functionalized and rationalized, its meanings and uses are socially constructed to serve hegemonic interests, including legitimation and domination, and so language is never pure and philosophical, universal and transcendent of social conditions. While there is a utopian promise in language and communication that minds can meet, that shared understanding can be established, that truth can be revealed, and that unforced consensus can be reached, this is merely a utopian ideal. In the post-structuralist/constructivist view, language is thus integrally related to power and is the instrument of particular social interests that construct discourses, conventions, and practices, while embedding language and communication in untruth and domination, making it an imperfect model for rationality and democracy.
In my view, language suffers its contradictions, it is situated within a conflict between truth and untruth, universality and particularity, communication and manipulation. From this perspective, Habermas's philosophical grounding of language and communication is problematic and requires concrete socio-historical specification. This task is complicated, from within the Habermasian theory, because for the past decades, a distinction between system and lifeworld has stood at the center of Habermas's work. For Habermas, contemporary societies are divided between a lifeworld governed by norms of communicative interaction and a system governed by "steering imperatives" of money and power. This distinction mediates between systems theory and hermeneutics, arguing that the former cannot grasp the communicative practices of everyday life while the latter ignores the systemic forces that have come to dominate the lifeworld. For Habermas, the "steering media" of money and power enable business and the state to control ever more processes of everyday life, thus undermining democracy and the public sphere, moral and communicative interaction, and other ideals of Habermas and the Frankfurt School. It has frequently been argued that this dichotomy is too dualistic and Manichean, overlooking that the state and political realm can be used benevolently and progressively, while the lifeworld can be the site of all sorts of oppression and domination.
From the standpoint of theorizing the public sphere, Habermas concedes that from the time of developing this distinction, "I have considered the state apparatus and economy to be systematically integrated action fields that can no longer be transformed democratically from within, .... without damage to their proper system logic and therewith their ability to function" (Habermas 1992: 444). That is, like technology and production, Habermas thinks that the economy and state follow certain systemic imperatives that render them impossible to democratically transform. All one can do, from this perspective, is to protect the communicative spheres of the lifeworld from encroachment by the forces of instrumental rationality and action and the imperatives of money and power, preserving a sphere of humanity, communication, morality, and value in the practices of everyday life.
From the time that the theory of communicative action and the contrast between system and lifeworld became central to his project, Habermas's emphasis has been on political will formation through the process of "deliberative democracy," conceived as processes which cultivate rational and moral subjects through reflection, argumentation, public reasoning, and reaching consensus (Habermas 1992: 445f). Severing political discussion from decision and action, however, focuses the locus of Habermasian politics strictly on discussion and what he calls a discourse theory of democracy. Whereas theories of strong democracy posit individuals organizing, deliberating, making decisions, and actively transforming the institutions of their social life, Habermas shifts "the sovereignty of the people"
into a flow of communication... in the power of public discourses that uncover topics of relevance to all of society, interpret values, contribute to the resolution of problems, generate good reasons, and debunk bad ones. Of course, these opinions must be given shape in the form of decisions by democratically constituted decision-making bodies. The responsibility for practically consequential decisions must be based in an institution. Discourses do not govern. They generate a communicative power that cannot take the place of administration but can only influence it. This influence is limited to the procurement and withdrawal of legitimation (1992: 452).
This is quite a shift from the perspectives of Structural Transformation where Habermas delineated an entire set of institutions and practices that could directly impinge upon and transform all realms of social life. Despite the pessimistic conclusion of Transformation, which posited the decline of the bourgeois public sphere in the contemporary era, Habermas earlier held out the hope for societal democratization of the major realms of politics, society, and everyday life, although he did not specify any particular tactics, strategies, or practices. Over the past two decades, however, his work has taken a philosophical turn that focuses on the discursive conditions of rational discussion, anchored in communicative relations of everyday life.
In his later work, I would argue, Habermas indulges in a romanticism of the lifeworld, appealing to the "true humanity" operative within interpersonal relations, assuming face-to-face communication as his model of undistorted communication, and replacing structural transformation with the ideal of cultivation of the communicatively-rational individual and group. His analysis is discourse-oriented, developing discourse theories of morality, democracy, and law, grounded in a theory of communicative action. While these analyses provide some extremely powerful insights into the conditions of democratic deliberation and consensus, moral action and development, and the role of communication in spheres ranging from morality to politics to law, the quasi-ontological separation of the sphere of communicative action/lifeworld from system is problematic, as is his specific categorical bifurcation of the social system.
The crux of the problem with Habermas's analysis is that he makes too rigid a categorical distinction between system and lifeworld, constructing each according to their own imperatives, thus removing the "system" (i.e. economy and state) from democratic transformation, while limiting the site of participatory democracy to the lifeworld. Against this conception, I would argue, as Habermas himself recognizes, that the lifeworld is increasingly subject to imperatives from the system, but that in the current era of technological revolution, interaction and communication play an increasingly important role in the economy and polity that Habermas labels the "system." Moreover, I will suggest that the volatility and turbulence of the contemporary "great transformation" that we are undergoing constitute a contradictory process where the lifeworld undergoes new threats from the system -- especially through the areas of colonization by media and new technologies that Habermas does not systematically theorize --, while at the same time there are new conflicts and openings in the economy and polity for democratic intervention and transformation.
Earlier, Habermas made a similar categorical distinction between production and interaction, arguing that the former (including technology) was governed by the logic of instrumental action and could not be transformed, while "interaction" was deemed the categorical field for rational discourse, moral development, and democratic will-formation. In the remainder of my study, I want to argue that in an era of technological revolution in which new technologies are permeating and dramatically transforming every aspect of what Habermas discusses as system and lifeworld, or earlier production and interaction, and that such dualistic and quasi-transcendental categorical distinctions can no longer be maintained.
In particular, Habermas's system/lifeworld dualism and the reduction of steering media within the system to money and power neglects the crucial functions of media of communication and new technologies in the structure and activity of contemporary societies and unnecessarily limits Habermas's political options. Andrew Feenberg will develop an argument in this volume concerning the need to theorize technology as a crucial "steering media" of contemporary society and to democratically transform technology to make it a force and field of societal democratization. I will focus here, as a subset of this concern, on the importance of communication media and technology for the processes of democratization and reconstruction of the public sphere.
In my book Television and the Crisis of Democracy (1990), I contend that the media, state, and business are the major institutional forces of contemporary capitalist societies, that the media "mediate" between state, economy, and social life, and that the mainstream broadcasting media have not been promoting democracy or serving the public interest and thus are forfeiting their crucial structural importance in constructing a democratic society. Hence, I am assuming that the communication media are something like what Habermas calls "steering media," that, as I suggest below, they have crucial functions in a democratic social order, and that they have been failing in their challenges to promote democracy over the last decades, thus producing a crisis of democracy. In the remainder of this article, I will address this situation and propose remedies grounded in Habermas's early work and the first generation of critical theory.
In my view, Habermas does not adequately theorize the nature and social functions of contemporary media of communication and information, they are for him mere mechanisms for transmitting messages, instruments that are neither an essential part of the economy or polity in his schema, and of derivative importance for democracy in comparison to processes of rational debate and consensus in the lifeworld. In the conclusion to his "Further Reflections on the Public Sphere," Habermas makes a distinction between "the communicative generation of legitimate power on the one hand" and "the manipulative deployment of media power to procure mass loyalty, consumer demand, and 'compliance' with systemic imperatives on the other" (1992: 452). Such a distinction can be analytically made and strategically deployed, but in Habermas's use, the media are excluded tout court from the realm of democracy and the possibility of democratic transformation, since they are limited by definition in his optic to systemic imperatives of manipulation, governed by "media" of money and power, and thus are excluded from the possibility of contributing to the politics of a broader societal democratization.
Hence, Habermas never really formulates the positive and indeed necessary functions of the media in democracy and cannot do so, I maintain, with his categorical distinctions. In Transformations, he sketches the degeneration of media from print-based journalism to the electronic media of the twentieth century, in an analysis that, as his critics maintain, tends to idealize earlier print media and journalism within a democratic public sphere contrasted to an excessively negative sketch of later electronic media and consumption in a debased public sphere of contemporary capitalism.
This same model of the media and public sphere continues to be operative in his most recent magnum opus Between Facts and Norms (1998), where Habermas discusses a wide range of legal and democratic theory, including a long discussion of the media and the public sphere, but he does not discuss the normative character of communication media in democracy or suggest how a progressive media politics could evolve. Part of the problem, I think, is that Habermas's notion of the public sphere was grounded historically in the era of print media which, as McLuhan and Gouldner have argued, fostered modes of argumentation characterized by linear rationality, objectivity, and consensus. Obviously, Habermas is an exemplary public intellectual, intervening in the public sphere in many crucial issues of the past decades, writing tirelessly on contemporary political events, criticizing what he sees as dangerous contemporary forms of conservativism and irrationalism, and in general fighting the good fight and constructing himself as a major public intellectual of the day, as well as world-class philosopher and social theorist (again, Dewey comes to mind as a predecessor).
Since writing is his medium of choice and print media is his privileged site of intervention, I would imagine that Habermas downplays broadcasting and other communication media, the Internet and new spheres of public debate, and various alternative public spheres in part because he does not participate in these media and arenas himself and partly because, as I am suggesting, the categorical distinctions in his theory denigrate these domains in contrast to the realms of communicative action and the lifeworld. But these blindspots and conceptual limitations, I believe, truncate Habermas's discussions of democracy and undermine his obvious intention of fostering democratization himself.
Hence, despite extremely detailed discussion of democracy in Between Facts and Norms, Habermas fails, in my view, to adequately explicate the precise institutional and normative functions of the media and the public sphere within constitutional democracy. As conceived by Montesquieu in Spirit of the Laws and as elaborated in the American and then French revolutions of the 18th century, a democratic social order requires a separation of power so that no one social institution or force dominates the polity. Most Western democracies separate the political system into the Presidency, Congress, and the Judiciary so that there would be a division and balance of powers between the major political institutions. The Press was conceived in this system as the "fourth estate" and freedom of the press was provided by most Western democracies as a fundamental right and as a key institution within a constitutional order based on separation of powers in which the media would serve as a check against corruption and excessive power in the other institutions.
But democratic theory also developed stronger notions of citizen participation, or what has become known as participatory democracy, in theorists such as Rousseau, Marx, and Dewey. In this conception, famously expressed by Abraham Lincoln, democracy is government by, of, and for the people. For such a conception of radical democracy to work, to create a genuinely participatory democracy, the citizens must be informed, they must be capable of argumentation and participation, and they must be active and organized to become a transformative democratic political force. Habermas, as we have seen, limits his analysis of procedural or deliberative democracy to valorization of the processing of rational argumentation and consensus, admittedly a key element of real democracy.
But not only does he limit democracy to the sphere of discussion within the lifeworld and civil society, but he omits the arguably necessary presuppositions for democratic deliberation and argumentation -- an informed and intellectually competent citizenry. Here the focus should arguably be on education and the media, for schooling and the media play a key role in enabling individuals to be informed, taught to seek information, and, if effectively educated, to critically assess and appraise information, to transform information into knowledge and understanding, and thus to make citizens capable of participating in democratic discussion and deliberation (on the role of education and the media in democracy see Kellner 1990 and 1998).
From this perspective, then, the media are part of a constitutional balance of power, providing checks and balances against the other political spheres and should perform a crucial function of informing and cultivating a citizenry capable of actively participating in democratic politics. If the media are not vigilant in their checking of corrupt or excessive power (of corporations, the state, the legal system, etc.) and if the media are not adequately informing their audiences, then they are not assuming their democratic functions and we are suffering a crisis of democracy (an analysis that I made in Kellner 1990 and 1992, but will qualify below).
Habermas's various analyses in his by now astoundingly prolific and monumental work recognizes these two sides of democracy, but does not adequately delineate the normative character of the media in democracy and does not develop a notion of radical democracy in which individuals organize to democratically transform the media, technology, and the various institutions of social life. In particular, he does not theorize the media and public sphere as part of a democratic constitutional order, but rather as a sphere of civil society that is
a sounding board for problems that must be processed by the political system. To this extent, the public sphere is a warning system with sensors that, through unspecialized, are sensitive throughout society. From the perspective of democratic theory, the public sphere must, in addition, amplify the pressure of problems, that is, not only thematize them, furnish them with possible solutions, and dramatize them in such a way that they are taken up and dealt with by parliamentary complexes. Besides the 'signal' function, there must be an effective problematization. The capacity of the public sphere to solve problems on its own is limited. But this capacity must be utilized to oversee the further treatment of problems that takes place inside the political system. (1998: 359).
In Habermas's conception, the media and public sphere function outside of the actual political-institutional system, mainly as a site of discussion and not as a locus of political organization, struggle, and transformation. In fact, however, I would argue that while the media in the Western democracies, which is now the dominant model in a globalized world, are intricately intertwined within the state and economy, in ways that Habermas does not acknowledge, nonetheless oppositional broadcast media and new media technologies such as the Internet are, as I argue below, serving as a new basis for a participatory democratic communication politics. Habermas, by contrasts, fails to perceive how new social movements and oppositional groups and individuals use communication media to both educate and organize oppositional groups and thus expand the field of democratic politics.
Habermas himself does not distinguish between the differences in the public sphere under the domination of big media and state broadcasting organizations in Europe contrasted to the corporate and commercial dominated system of big media in the United States. In Europe's system of state-controlled broadcasting, a fusion emerged between the political sphere and the public sphere, in which state-financed and often controlled broadcasting organizations attempted to promote the national culture and in some cases to inform and educate its citizens. In the U.S., by contrast, it was big corporations which colonized the public sphere, substituting popular entertainment for expressions of national culture, education, and information. In the U.S., in contrast to Europe and much of the world, public broadcasting never emerged as a major cultural or political force and never served as the instrument of the state -- although conservative critics constantly attacked its "liberal" biases, while radical critics attacked its centrist and conservative spectrum of programming, and exclusion of more radical perspectives and views.
The difference between a state-controlled public broadcasting system contrasted to a more commercial model has, of course, itself collapsed in the era of globalization where commercially-based cable television has marginalized public broadcasting in most countries and where in a competitive media environment even public broadcasting corporations import popular, mostly American, entertainment, and are geared more toward ratings than political indoctrination, or enlightenment. Nonetheless, public broadcasting continues to offer an ideal of public interest communication geared toward the common good and, ironically perhaps, the proliferation of new media, including the Internet which I discuss below, have multiplied information and discussion, of an admittedly varied sort, and thus provide potential for a more informed citizenry and more extensive democratic participation. Yet, the dis- and misinformation that circulates on Internet undermines democratic information and discussion, pointing to sharp contradictions within the current media system.
Habermas, however, neglects intense focus on the vicissitudes of the media, excludes democratization of the media from the realm of democratic politics, and does not envisage how new media and technology could lead to an expansion and revitalization of new and more democratic public spheres. In fact -- and this is the crux of my critique of his positions --, Habermas simply does not theorize the functions of the media within the contemporary public sphere, deriving his model more from face-to-face communication and discussion, rather than from media interaction or communication mediated by the media and technology. In the next section I will argue, however, that the development of new global public spheres with the Internet and new multimedia technology require further development of the concept of the public sphere today and reflection on the emerging importance of new technologies within democracy.
Globalization, New Technologies, and New Public Spheres
In this concluding section, I wish to argue that in the contemporary high-tech societies there is emerging a significant expansion and redefinition of the public sphere -- as I am conceiving it, going beyond Habermas, to conceive of the public sphere as a site of information, discussion, contestation, political struggle, and organization that includes the broadcasting media and new cyberspaces as well as the face-to-face interactions of everyday life. These developments, connected primarily with multimedia and computer technologies, require a reformulation and expansion of the concept of the public sphere -- as well as our notions of the critical or committed intellectual and notion of the public intellectual (see Kellner 1995b for an expansion of this argument). Earlier in the century, John Dewey envisaged developing a newspaper that would convey "thought news," bringing all the latest ideas in science, technology, and the intellectual world to a general public, which would also promote democracy (see the discussion of this project in Czitrom 1982: 104ff). In addition, Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin (1969) saw the revolutionary potential of new technologies like film and radio and urged radical intellectuals to seize these new forces of production, to "refunction" them, and to turn them into instruments to democratize and revolutionize society. Jean-Paul Sartre too worked on radio and television series and insisted that "committed writers must get into these relay station arts of the movies and radio" (1974: 177; for discussion of his Les temps modernes radio series, see 177-180).
Previously, radio, television, and the other electronic media of communication tended to be closed to critical and oppositional voices both in systems controlled by the state and by private corporations. Public access and low power television, and community and guerilla radio, however, opened these technologies to intervention and use by critical intellectuals. For some years now, I have been urging progressives to make use of new communications broadcast media (Kellner 1979; 1985; 1990; 1992) and have in fact been involved in a public access television program in Austin, Texas since 1978 which has produced over 600 programs and won the George Stoney Award for public affairs television. My argument has been that radio, television, and other electronic modes of communication were creating new public spheres of debate, discussion, and information; hence, activists and intellectuals who wanted to engage the public, to be where the people were at, and who thus wanted to intervene in the public affairs of their society should make use of these technologies and develop communication politics and new media projects.
The rise of the Internet expands the realm for democratic participation and debate and creates new public spaces for political intervention. My argument is that first broadcast media like radio and television, and now computers, have produced new public spheres and spaces for information, debate, and participation that contain both the potential to invigorate democracy and to increase the dissemination of critical and progressive ideas -- as well as new possibilities for manipulation, social control, the promotion of conservative positions, and intensifying of differences between haves and have nots. But participation in these new public spheres -- computer bulletin boards and discussion groups, talk radio and television, and the emerging sphere of what I call cyberspace democracy require critical intellectuals to gain new technical skills and to master new technologies (see Kellner 1995b and 1997 for expansion of this argument).
To be sure, the Internet is a contested terrain, used by Left, Right, and Center to promote their own agendas and interests. The political battles of the future may well be fought in the streets, factories, parliaments, and other sites of past conflict, but politics today is already mediated by media, computer, and information technologies and will increasingly be so in the future. Those interested in the politics and culture of the future should therefore be clear on the important role of the new public spheres and intervene accordingly.
A new democratic politics will thus be concerned that new media and computer technologies be used to serve the interests of the people and not corporate elites. A democratic politics will strive to see that broadcast media and computers are used to inform and enlighten individuals rather than to manipulate them. A democratic politics will teach individuals how to use the new technologies, to articulate their own experiences and interests, and to promote democratic debate and diversity, allowing a full range of voices and ideas to become part of the cyberdemocracy of the future.
Now more than ever, public debate over the use of new technologies is of utmost importance to the future of democracy. Who will control the media and technologies of the future, and debates over the public's access to media, media accountability and responsibility, media funding and regulation, and what kinds of culture are best for cultivating individual freedom, democracy, and human happiness and well-being will become increasingly important in the future. The proliferation of media culture and computer technologies focuses attention on the importance of new technologies and the need for public intervention in debates over the future of media culture and communications in the information highways and entertainment by-ways of the future. The technological revolution of our time thus involves the creation of new public spheres and the need for democratic strategies to promote the project of democratization and to provide access to more people to get involved in more political issues and struggles so that democracy might have a chance in the new millennium.
Further, in an era of globalization and technological revolution, the increased capacity of information, technology, and automation in the economy puts in question both Karl Marx's labor theory of value, upon which the early work of the Frankfurt School was based, as well as Habermas's distinction between production and interaction/communication as the fundamental distinction to make sense of, interpret, and criticize contemporary societies. Habermas, of course, often argued himself that the expanding functions of science and technology in the production process undermined the Marxian labor theory of value (see Habermas 1973: 226ff.). Expanding this argument, I contend that increased intensification of technological revolution in our era undermines Habermas's own fundamental distinction between production and interaction, since production obviously is structured by increased information and communication networks, while the latter are increasingly generated and structured by technology. Hence, where Habermas earlier argued (1973, 1979, 1984, and 1997), and continues to argue, that production is governed by the logic of instrumental action, whereas relations in the lifeworld are governed by the logic of communicative action, more and more communicative action is playing a direct role in production, as information technology, communications, and interpersonal interaction structure the field of labor, and more modes of instrumental action become constitutive aspects of everyday life, as my typing this article on a computer, or sending e-mail to the editor of this volume, would suggest.
Thus, I have argued in this paper that Habermas's project is undermined by too rigid categorical distinctions between classical liberal and contemporary public spheres, between system and lifeworld, and production and interaction. Such dualistic conceptions are themselves vitated, I have argued, by technological revolution in which media and technology play vital roles on both sides of Habermas's categorical divide, subverting his bifurcations. The distinctions also rule out, I believe, efforts to transform the side of Habermas's distinction that he considers impervious to democratic imperatives or the norms of communicative action. My perspectives, by contrast, open the entire social field to transformation and reconstruction, ranging from the economy and technology to media and education.
Yet it is the merit of Habermas's analysis to focus attention on the nature and the structural transformations of the public sphere and its functions within contemporary society. My analysis suggests that we should expand this analysis to take account of the technological revolution and global restructuring of capitalism that is currently taking place and rethink the critical theory of society and democratic politics in the light of these developments. Through thinking together the vicissitudes of the economy, polity, technology, culture, and everyday life, the Frankfurt School provides valuable theoretical resources to meet the crucial tasks of the contemporary era. In this study, I have suggested some of the ways that Habermas's Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere provides a more promising starting point for critical theory and radical democracy than his later philosophy of language and communication and have suggested that thinking through the contributions and limitations of his work can productively advance the project of understanding and democratically transforming contemporary society. In particular, as we move into a new millennium, an expanded public sphere and new challenges and threats to democracy render Habermas's work an indispensable component of a new critical theory that must, however, go beyond his positions in crucial ways.
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. While working on an article on Habermas and Dewey in the early 1990s, I asked Habermas if Dewey had influenced him and he responded that Dewey's strong notion of liberal democracy, of politics and the public, and of the active connection between theory and practice made a strong impression on him; see Antonio and Kellner 1992 for details. Hence, I think its fair to say that Habermas has emerged as one of the major theorists and defenders of a robust conception of liberal democracy in our day, and thus can be seen as a successor to Dewey.
. On SDS, see Sale 1974; Gitlin 1987; and Miller 1994.
. Habermas 1989a ); A short encyclopedia article succinctly summarizes Habermas's concept of the public sphere (1989b).
. For a discussion of the initial critiques of Habermas's Offentlichkeit, see Hohendahl 1979; for a bibliography of writings on the topic, see Gˆrtzen 1981; and for a set of contemporary English-language discussions of the work, after it was finally translated in 1989, see Calhoun 1992. To get a sense of the astonishingly productive impact of the work in encouraging research and reflection on the public sphere, see the studies in Calhoun 1992 and Habermas's "Further Reflections on the Public Sphere" that cite a striking number of criticisms or developments of his study.
. One example relevant to Habermas's time frame: the framing of the U.S. constitution as analyzed in Beard 19xx who demonstrates that the U.S. form of constitutional government was decisively formed through compromises between competing Northern and Southern elites rather than through rational argumentation and consensus concerning common interests.
. There is no mention, for instance, of C. Wright Mills in the index of the collection of articles on Habermas and the public sphere in Calhoun 1992. Mills himself was influenced by the works of the Institute for Social Research and paid explicit homage to the Institute in a 1954 article where he described the dominant types of social research as those of the Scientists (quantitative empiricists), the Grand Theorists (structural-functionalists like Talcott Parsons), and those genuine Sociologists who inquire into: "(1) What is the meaning of this -- whatever we are examining -- for our society as a whole, and what is this social world like? (2) What is the meaning of this for the types of men and women that prevail in this society? and (3) how does this fit into the historical trend of our times, and in what direction does this main drift seem to be carrying us?" (Mills 1963: 572). He then comments: "I know of no better way to become acquainted with this endeavor in a high form of modern expression than to read the periodical, Studies in Philosophy and Social Sciences, published by The Institute of Social Research. Unfortunately, it is available only in the morgues of university libraries, and to the great loss of American social studies, several of the Institute's leading members, among them Max Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno, have returned to Germany. That there is now no periodical that bears comparison with this one testifies to the ascendancy of the Higher Statisticians and the Grand Theorists over the Sociologists. It is difficult to understand why some publisher does not get out a volume or two of selections from this great periodical" (ibid).
. Habermas has been developing these positions since the 1970s; see, among others, Habermas 1970, 1979, 1984, and 1987a.
. In a sense, Habermas and poststructuralism articulate the opposing poles of language: while Habermas argues that language and communication involve a relation to meaning, truth, recognition, and universality, post-structuralism stresses its embeddedness in power and its potential for untruth, distortion, and domination (for Habermas's own critiques of poststructuralist conceptions, see Habermas 1987b). I will argue below that both sides are one-sided and express contradictions of language and communication that must be worked through and mediated in order to develop more comprehensive theories.
. Habermas indicates how problems in his 1960s work led him to develop this distinction in the 1970s (1992: 443f), a framework articulated most systematically in Theory of Communicative Action (1984 and 1987a), but crucial to all of Habermas's post-1970s works.
. One exception in Habermas is a reference to the role of communication media in promoting the overthrow of state socialism: "The transformation occurring in the German Democratic Republic, in Czechoslovakia, and in Roumania formed a chain of events properly considered not merely as a historical process that happened to be shown on television but one whose very mode of occurrence was televisual" (Habermas 1992: 456). Habermas cites this example to indicate "the ambivalent nature of the democratic potential of a public sphere" and to suggest contradictory functions of electronic media, but he does not theorize in any systematic way how communication media and technology could be democratized and serve the ends of democratic transformation, and thus has no democratic media politics, a project that I outline below. I should perhaps also note here that there are ambiguities in Habermas's choice of the term "media" for steering-mechanisms of money and power, whereas mass media of communication are seen from his perspective as domianted by the "media" of money and power, and thus are not given independent status as an important societal force. While I do not deny that money and power, corporations and the state, control the media of communications in the current situation, I am claiming that communications media have a normative role in democratic theory and that without a democratizing of the media, more expansive and inclusive societal democratization is not foreseeable.
. See McLuhan 1961 and 1964 for arguments that print media were a fundamental constituent of modernity, helping produce individualism, secularism, nationalism, democracy, capitalism, and other key features of the modern world. Gouldner (1976), while avoiding McLuhan's excessive technological determinism, sets out some of the ways that print media fostered rationality, objectivity, political participation, and consensus.
. While Habermas describes the public sphere as "a network of communicating information and points of view" in Between Facts and Norms, he then states: "Like the lifeworld as a whole, so, too, the public sphere is reproduced through communicative action, in which mastery of a natural language suffices" (1998: 360). His public sphere is thus grounded in a lifeworld with an "intersubjectively shared space of a speech situation in "concrete locales where an audience is physically gathered" (1998: 361). On this analysis, then, the public sphere is anchored in concrete physical relations of the lifeworld, so that communications media information and debate, or disembodied communication in cyberspace on the Internet, are excluded from the very concept of the public sphere and democratic will-formation. I would argue, however, that providing important information for democratic discussion and debate and the processes of dialogue and argumentation are crucial for democracy and can legitimately take place in broadcast media and new computer informational cyberspaces as well as face-to-face diliberation.
. On media and communications politics of the present, see Kellner 1990, 1995a, 1997, and 1999.
. I have suggested in this paper the expanding role of technology in politics, communication, and everyday life and will augment the discussion of the ways that new information, entertainment, and communications technology are restructuring the global economy and all dimensions of social life in further writings; for extensive documentation of the role of information/ communication technology in the global economy and rise of the "network society," see Castells 1996, 1997, and 1998 and Best and Kellner forthcoming.
First published Thu May 17, 2007
Jürgen Habermas currently ranks as one of the most influential philosophers in the world. Bridging continental and Anglo-American traditions of thought, he has engaged in debates with thinkers as diverse as Gadamer and Putnam, Foucault and Rawls, Derrida and Brandom. His extensive written work addresses topics stretching from social-political theory to aesthetics, epistemology and language to philosophy of religion, and his ideas have significantly influenced not only philosophy but also political-legal thought, sociology, communication studies, argumentation theory and rhetoric, developmental psychology and theology. Moreover, he has figured prominently in Germany as a public intellectual, commenting on controversial issues of the day in German newspapers such as Die Zeit.
However, if one looks back over his corpus of work, one can discern two broad lines of enduring interest, one having to do with the political domain, the other with issues of rationality, communication, and knowledge. (In what follows, unnamed citations refer to works by Habermas; quotations are from the English editions, where available.)
• 1. The Early Development Of Habermas's Interest In The Public Sphere And Reason
• 2. Important Transitional Works
• 3. Mature Positions
o 3.1 The Theory of Communicative Action
o 3.2 Habermas's Discourse Theory
o 3.3 Habermas's Theory of Truth and Knowledge
o 3.4 Habermas's Discourse Theory of Morality, Politics, and Law
o 3.5 Habermas's Cosmopolitanism
• 4. The Dialogue between Naturalism and Religion
o Cited Works by Habermas
o Other Works Cited
• Other Internet Resources
• Related Entries
1. The Early Development Of Habermas's Interest In The Public Sphere And Reason
Born outside Düsseldorf in 1929, Habermas came of age in postwar Germany. The Nuremberg Trials were a key formative moment that brought home to him the depth of Germany's moral and political failure under National Socialism. This experience was later reinforced when, as a graduate student interested in Heidegger's existentialism, he read the latter's reissued Introduction to Metaphysics, in which Heidegger had retained (or more accurately, reintroduced) an allusion to the “inner truth and greatness” of National Socialism (Heidegger 1959, 199). When Habermas (1953) publicly called for an explanation from Heidegger, the latter's silence confirmed Habermas's conviction that the German philosophical tradition had failed in its moment of reckoning, providing intellectuals with the resources neither to understand nor to criticize National Socialism. This negative experience of the relation between philosophy and politics subsequently motivated his search for conceptual resources from Anglo-American thought, particularly its pragmatic and democratic traditions. In moving outside the German tradition, Habermas joined a number of young postwar intellectuals such as Karl-Otto Apel (for Habermas's autobiographical sketch, see 2005b, chap. 1).
Habermas completed his dissertation in 1954 at the University of Bonn, writing on the conflict between the absolute and history in Schelling's thought. He first gained serious public attention, at least in Germany, with the 1962 publication of his habilitation, Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit (Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere; English ed., 1989), a detailed social history of the development of the bourgeois public sphere from its origins in the 18th century salons up to its transformation through the influence of capital-driven mass media. In his description of the salons we clearly see his interest in a communicative ideal that later would provide the core normative standard for his moral-political theory: the idea of inclusive critical discussion, free of social and economic pressures, in which interlocutors treat each other as equals in a cooperative attempt to reach an understanding on matters of common concern. As an ideal at the center of bourgeois culture, this kind of interchange was probably never fully realized; nonetheless, it “was not mere ideology” (1989, 160, also 36). As these small discussion societies grew into mass publics in the 19th century, however, ideas became commodities, assimilated to the economics of mass media consumption. Rather than give up on the idea of public reason, Habermas called for a socioinstitutionally feasible concept of public opinion-formation “that is historically meaningful, that normatively meets the requirements of the social-welfare state, and that is theoretically clear and empirically identifiable.” Such a concept “can be grounded only in the structural transformation of the public sphere itself and in the dimension of its development” (ibid., 244). His concluding sketch of such a concept (ibid., 244–48) already contains in outline the two-level model of democratic deliberation he later elaborates in his mature work on law and democracy, Between Facts and Norms (1996b; German ed., 1992b).
Habermas's interest in the political subsequently led him to a series of philosophical studies and critical-social analyses that eventually appeared in English in his Toward a Rational Society (1970) and Theory and Practice (1973b). Whereas the latter consists primarily of reflections on the history of philosophy, the former represents an attempt to apply his emerging theory of rationality to the critical analysis of contemporary society, in particular the student protest movement and its institutional target, the authoritarian and technocratic structures that held sway in higher education and politics.
Habermas's critical reflection takes a nuanced approach to both sides of the social unrest that characterized the late sixties. Although sympathetic with students' demand for more democratic participation and hopeful that their activism harbored a potential for positive social transformation, he also did not hesitate to criticize its militant aspects, which he labeled self-delusory and “pernicious” (1970, 48). In his critique of technocracy—governance by scientific experts and bureaucracy—he relied on a philosophical framework that anticipates categories in his later thought, minus the philosophy of language he would work out in the 1970s. Specifically, Habermas (ibid., chap. 6) sharply distinguished between two modes of action, “work” and “interaction,” which correspond to enduring interests of the human species. The former includes modes of action based on the rational choice of efficient means, that is, forms of instrumental and strategic action, whereas the latter refers to forms of “communicative action” in which actors coordinate their behaviors on the basis of “consensual norms” (ibid., 91–92). Habermas's distinction in effect appropriates the classical Aristotelian contrast between techne and praxis for critical social theory (1973b, chap. 1). The result is a distinctively Habermasian critique of science and technology as ideology: by reducing practical questions about the good life to technical problems for experts, contemporary elites eliminate the need for public, democratic discussion of values, thereby depoliticizing the population (1970, chap. 6). The legitimate human interest in technical control of nature thus functions as an ideology—a screen that masks the value-laden character of government decisionmaking in the service of the capitalist status quo. Unlike Herbert Marcuse, who regarded that interest as specific to capitalist society, Habermas affirmed the technical control of nature as a genuinely universal species-interest; unlike Horkheimer and Adorno in their Dialectic of Enlightenment, the technical interest did not necessitate social domination.
Habermas defended this philosophical anthropology most fully in his Knowledge and Human Interests (1971b; German ed., 1968b), the work that represents his first attempt to provide a systematic framework for critical social theory. In it, Habermas develops a theory of “knowledge-constitutive interests” that are tied both to “the natural history of the human species” and to “the imperatives of the socio-cultural form of life,” but are not reducible to them (ibid., 168). There are three knowledge-constitutive interests, each tied to a particular conception of science and social science. The first is the “technical interest,” the “anthropologically deep-seated interest” we have in the prediction and control of the natural environment. Positivism sees knowledge in these terms, and naturalistic accounts of human possibilities often regard human history only from this point of view. Second, there is the equally deep-seated “practical interest” in securing and expanding possibilities of mutual and self-understanding in the conduct of life. Finally, there is the “emancipatory interest” in overcoming dogmatism, compulsion, and domination.
If each interest is constitutive of a form of knowledge, then we should expect to find for each a corresponding form of cultural-institutional realization, that is, organized modes of inquiry and knowledge-production. This seems to be plausible for the interests in control of nature and social understanding: the empirical-analytic sciences are oriented toward instrumental action and technical control under specified conditions, and the cultural-hermeneutic sciences presuppose and articulate modes of action-orienting (inter)personal understanding that operate within socio-cultural forms of life and the grammar of ordinary language. In retrospect, Habermas's analysis of these two interests is limited by the concerns of the day. His distinction between the sciences that take nature as their object, and interpretive modes of inquiry that depend on communicative access to domains of human life, still has some plausibility. But his view of the natural sciences still had not fully absorbed the lessons of post-positivist science studies. Nor is it clear that prediction and control exhaust the interests that drive the natural sciences (e.g., the interest in the geologic past seems to involve more than technical control).
The status of the emancipatory interest, however, was problematic from the start. Habermas broadly identified it as the interest of reason as such, which underlies critical-reflective knowledge. However, Habermas soon realized he had conflated two forms of critical reflection: the critique that aims to unmask self-deception and ideology and the reflective articulation of the formal structures of knowledge (1973cd). Moreover, the interest in emancipation does not clearly correspond to a specific science or form of institutionalized inquiry. Although Freudian psychology and Marxist social theory have such an interest, much if not most psychological and sociological inquiry does not have explicitly emancipatory aims, but rather is driven by interests in prediction and social understanding. Nor was it clear that psychoanalysis provided an apt model of liberatory reflection in any case, as critics pointed out how the asymmetries between patient and analyst could not represent the proper intersubjective form for emancipation. These deficits posed a challenge for Habermas that would guide a decades-long search for the normative and empirical basis of critique. Whatever the best path to the epistemic and normative basis for critique might be, it would have to pass a democratic test: that “in Enlightenment there are only participants” (1973b, 44). Habermas will not resolve this methodological issue until a series of transitional studies in the 1970s culminates in his mature systematic work, The Theory of Communicative Action (1984a/1987; German ed., 1981; hereafter cited as TCA).
That said, we can discern enduring features in Habermas's early attempt at a comprehensive model of social criticism. As a theory of rationality and knowledge, his theory of knowledge-constitutive interests is both pragmatic and pluralistic: pragmatic, inasmuch as human interests constitute knowledge; pluralistic, in that different forms of inquiry and knowledge emerge from different core interests. In Knowledge and Human Interests we can thus see the beginnings of a methodologically pluralistic approach to critical social theory, more on which below. Besides the problems described above, however, the analysis was hampered by a framework that still relied on motifs from a “philosophy of consciousness” fixated on the constitution of objects of possible experience—an approach that cannot do justice to the discursive dimensions of inquiry (1973cd; 2000; also Müller-Doohm 2000). In the 1970s Habermas set about a fundamental overhaul of his framework for critical theory (see McCarthy 1978).
2. Important Transitional Works
In the period between Knowledge and Human Interests and The Theory of Communicative Action, Habermas began to develop a distinctive method for elaborating the relationship between a theoretical social science of modern societies, on the one hand, and the normative and philosophical basis for critique, on the other. Following Horkheimer's definition of Critical theory, Habermas pursued three aims in his attempt to combine social science and philosophical analysis: it must be explanatory, practical, and normative, all at the same time. This meant that philosophy could not, as it did for Kant, become the sole basis for normative reflection. Rather, Habermas argued, adequate critique requires a thoroughgoing cooperation between philosophy and social science. This sort of analysis is characteristic of Legitimation Crisis (1975; German ed., 1973e), in which Habermas analyzes the modern state as subject to endemic crises, which arise from the fact that the state cannot simultaneously meet the demands for rational problem solving, democracy, and cultural identity. Here the social science to which Habermas appeals is more sociological and functional. Similarly, in this work and in Communication and the Evolution of Society (1979), Habermas begins to develop a distinctive conception of rational reconstruction, which models societal development as a learning process. In these works, Habermas begins to incorporate the results of developmental psychology, which aligns stages of development with changes in the kinds of reasons that the maturing individual considers acceptable. Analogously, societies develop through similar changes in the rational basis of legitimacy on the collective level. At this point in his theorizing, Habermas's appropriation of the social sciences has become methodologically and theoretically pluralistic: on his view, a critical social theory is not distinctive in light of endorsing some particular theory or method but as uniting normative and empirical inquiry.
In this transitional phase from Knowledge and Human Interests to The Theory of Communicative Action, Habermas's basic philosophical endeavor was to develop a more modest, fallibilist, empirical account of the philosophical claim to universality and rationality. This more modest approach rids Critical Theory of its vestiges of transcendental philosophy, pushing it in a naturalistic, “postmetaphysical” direction (1988b). Such a naturalism identifies more specific forms of social-scientific knowledge that help in developing an analysis of the general conditions of rationality manifested in various human capacities and powers.
Habermas's encounter with speech act theory proved to be particularly decisive for this project. In speech act theory, he finds the basis for a conception of communicative competence (on the model of Chomsky's linguistic competence). Given this emphasis on language, Habermas is often said to have taken a kind of “linguistic turn” in this period. He framed his first essays on formal pragmatics (1976ab) as an alternative to Niklas Luhmann's systems theory. Habermas understands formal pragmatics as one of the “reconstructive sciences,” which aim to render theoretically explicit the intuitive, pretheoretical know-how underlying such basic human competences as speaking and understanding, judging and acting. Unlike Kant's transcendental analysis of the conditions of rationality, reconstructive sciences yield knowledge that is not necessary but hypothetical, not a priori but empirical, not certain but fallible. They are nevertheless directed to invariant structures and conditions and raise universal, but defeasible claims to an account of practical reason.
With the turn to language and reconstructive science, Habermas undermines both of the traditional Kantian roles for philosophy: philosophy as the sole judge in normative matters and as the methodological authority that assigns the various domains of inquiry to their proper questions. In Habermas's view, philosophy must engage in a fully cooperative relationship with the social sciences and the empirical disciplines in general. This step is completed in The Theory of Communicative Action, to which we now turn.
3. Mature Positions
To understand Habermas's mature positions, we must start with his Theory of Communicative Action (TCA), a two-volume critical study of the theories of rationality that informed the classical sociologies of Weber, Durkheim, Parsons, and neo-Marxist critical theory (esp. Lukács, Horkheimer, Adorno). More importantly, in TCA we find Habermas's conception of the task of philosophy and its relation to the social sciences—a conception that still guides much of his work. While TCA defends the emphasis on normativity and the universalist ambitions found in the philosophical tradition, it does so within a framework that includes particular sorts of empirical social research, with which philosophy must interact. Philosophers, that is, must cooperate with social scientists if they are to understand normative claims within the current historical context, the context of a complex, modern society that is characterized by social and systemic modes of integration. The problem with pessimistic social theories of modernity is that they miss the cultural dimension of modernization due to a one-sided, primarily instrumental conception of rationality.
3.1 The Theory of Communicative Action
Starting with Marx's historical materialism, large-scale macrosociological and historical theories have long been held to be the most appropriate explanatory basis for critical social science. However, such theories have two drawbacks for the critical project. First, comprehensiveness does not ensure explanatory power. Indeed, there are many such large-scale theories, each with their own distinctive and exemplary social phenomena that guide their attempt at unification. Second, a close examination of standard critical explanations, such as the theory of ideology, shows that such explanations typically appeal to a variety of different social theories (Bohman 1999). Habermas's actual employment of critical explanations bears this out. His criticism of modern societies turns on the explanation of the relationship between two very different theoretical terms: a micro-theory of rationality based on communicative coordination and a macro-theory of the systemic integration of modern societies through such mechanisms as the market (TCA, vol. 2). In concrete terms, this means that Habermas develops a two-level social theory that includes an analysis of communicative rationality, the rational potential built into everyday speech, on the one hand; and a theory of modern society and modernization, on the other (White 1989). On the basis of this theory, Habermas hopes to be able to assess the gains and losses of modernization and to overcome its one-sided version of rationalization.
Comprehensive critical theories make two problematic assumptions: that there is one preferred mode of critical explanation, and that there is one preferred goal of social criticism, namely a socialist society that fulfills the norm of human emancipation. Only with such a goal in the background does the two-step process of employing historical materialism to establish an epistemically and normatively independent stance make sense. The correctness or incorrectness of such a critical model depends not on its acceptance or rejection by its addressees, but on the adequacy of the theory to objective historical necessities or mechanisms (into which the critical theorist alleges to have superior insight). A pluralistic mode of critical inquiry suggests a different norm of correctness: that criticism must be verified by those participating in the practice and that this demand for practical verification is part of the process of inquiry itself.
Although Habermas's attitude toward these different modes of critical theory is somewhat ambivalent, he has given good reasons to accept the practical, pluralist approach. Just as in the analysis of modes of inquiry tied to distinct knowledge-constitutive interests, Habermas accepts that various theories and methods each have “a relative legitimacy.” Indeed, like Dewey he goes so far as to argue that the logic of social explanation is pluralistic and eludes the “apparatus of general theories.” In the absence of any such general theories, the most fruitful approach to social-scientific knowledge is to bring all the various methods and theories into relation to each other: “Whereas the natural and the cultural or hermeneutic sciences are capable of living in mutually indifferent, albeit more hostile than peaceful coexistence, the social sciences must bear the tension of divergent approaches under one roof” (1988a, 3). In TCA, Habermas casts critical social theory in a similarly pluralistic, yet unifying way. In discussing various accounts of societal modernization, for example, he argues that the main existing theories have their own “particular legitimacy” as developed lines of empirical research, and that Critical Theory takes on the task of critically unifying the various theories and their heterogeneous methods and presuppositions. “Critical social theory does not relate to established lines of research as a competitor; starting from its concept of the rise of modern societies, it attempts to explain the specific limitations and the relative rights of those approaches” (TCA, 2: 375).
To achieve these theoretical and methodological ends, Habermas begins this task with a discussion of theories of rationality and offers his own distinctive definition of rationality, one that is epistemic, practical, and intersubjective. For Habermas, rationality consists not so much in the possession of particular knowledge, but rather in “how speaking and acting subjects acquire and use knowledge” (TCA, 1: 11). Any such account is “pragmatic” because it shares a number of distinctive features with other views that see interpreters as competent and knowledgeable agents. Most importantly, a pragmatic approach develops an account of practical knowledge in the “performative attitude,” that is, from the point of view of a competent speaker. A theory of rationality thus attempts to reconstruct the practical knowledge necessary for being a knowledgeable social actor among other knowledgeable social actors. As already mentioned, Habermas's reconstruction attempts to articulate invariant structures of communication, and so qualifies as a “formal pragmatics.”
What is the “performative attitude” that is to be reconstructed in such a theory? From a social-scientific point of view, language is a medium for coordinating action, although not the only such medium. The fundamental form of coordination through language, according to Habermas, requires speakers to adopt a practical stance oriented toward “reaching understanding,” which he regards as the “inherent telos” of speech. When actors address one another with this sort of practical attitude, they engage in what Habermas calls “communicative action,” which he distinguishes from strategic forms of social action. Because this distinction plays a fundamental role in TCA, it deserves some attention.
In strategic action, actors are not so much interested in mutual understanding as in achieving the individual goals they each bring to the situation. Actor A, for example, will thus appeal to B's desires and fears so as to motivate the behavior on B's part that is required for A's success. As reasons motivating B's cooperation, B's desires and fears are only contingently related to A's goals. B cooperates with A, in other words, not because B finds A's project inherently interesting or worthy, but because of what B gets out of the bargain: avoiding some threat that A can make or obtaining something A has promised (which may be of inherent interest to B but for A is only a means of motivating B).
In communicative action, or what Habermas later came to call “strong communicative action” in “Some Further Clarifications of the Concept of Communicative Rationality” (1998b, chap. 7; German ed., 1999b), speakers coordinate their action and pursuit of individual (or joint) goals on the basis of a shared understanding that the goals are inherently reasonable or merit-worthy. Whereas strategic action succeeds insofar as the actors achieve their individual goals, communicative action succeeds insofar as the actors freely agree that their goal (or goals) is reasonable, that it merits cooperative behavior. Communicative action is thus an inherently consensual form of social coordination in which actors “mobilize the potential for rationality” given with ordinary language and its telos of rationally motivated agreement.
To support his conception of communication action, Habermas must specify the mechanism that makes rationally motivated agreement possible. Toward that end, he argues for a particular account of utterance meaning as based on “acceptability conditions,” by analogy to the truth-conditional account of the meaning of sentences. But rather than linking meaning with representational semantics, Habermas takes a pragmatic approach, analyzing the conditions for the illocutionary success of the speech act. According to the core principle of his pragmatic theory of meaning, “we understand a speech act when we know the kinds of reasons that a speaker could provide in order to convince a hearer that he is entitled in the given circumstances to claim validity for his utterance—in short, when we know what makes it acceptable” (1998b, 232). With this principle, Habermas ties the meaning of speech acts to the practice of reason giving: speech acts inherently involve claims that are in need of reasons—claims that are open to both criticism and justification. In our everyday speech (and in much of our action), speakers tacitly commit themselves to explaining and justifying themselves, if necessary. To understand what one is doing in making a speech act, therefore, one must have some sense of the appropriate response that would justify one's speech act, were one challenged to do so. A speech act succeeds in reaching understanding when the hearer takes up “an affirmative position” toward the claim made by the speaker (TCA 1: 95–97; 282; 297). In doing so, the hearer presumes that the claims in the speech act could be supported by good reasons (even if she has not asked for them). When the offer made by the speaker fails to receive uptake, speaker and hearer may shift reflexive levels, from ordinary speech to “discourse”—processes of argumentation and dialogue in which the claims implicit in the speech act are tested for their rational justifiability as true, correct or authentic. Thus the rationality of communicative action is tied to the rationality of discourse, more on which in section 3.2.
What are these claims that are open to criticism and justification? In opposition to the positivist fixation on fact-stating modes of discourse, Habermas does not limit intersubjectively valid, or justifiable, claims to the category of empirical truth, but instead recognizes a spectrum of “validity claims” that also includes, at the least, claims to moral rightness, ethical goodness or authenticity, personal sincerity, and aesthetic value (TCA 1: 8–23; 1993, chap. 1). Although Habermas does not consider such claims to represent a mind-independent world in the manner of empirical truth claims, they can be both publicly criticized as unjustifiable and defended by publicly convincing arguments. To this extent, validity involves a notion of correctness analogous to the idea of truth. In this context, the phrase “validity claim,” as a translation of the German term Geltungsanspruch, does not have the narrow logical sense (truth-preserving argument forms), but rather connotes a richer social idea—that a claim (statement) merits the addressee's acceptance because it is justified or true in some sense, which can vary according to the sphere of validity and dialogical context.
By linking meaning with the acceptability of speech acts, Habermas moves the analysis beyond a narrow focus on the truth-conditional semantics of representation to the social intelligibility of interaction. The complexity of social interaction then allows him to find three basic validity claims potentially at stake in any speech act used for cooperative purposes (i.e., in strong communicative action). His argument relies on three “world relations” that are potentially involved in strongly communicative acts in which a speaker intends to say something to someone about something (TCA 1: 275ff). For example, a constative (fact-stating) speech act (a) expresses an inner world (an intention to communicate a belief); (b) establishes a communicative relation with a hearer (and thus relates to a social world, specifically one in which both persons share a piece of information, and know they do); and (c) attempts to represent the external world. This triadic structure suggests that many speech acts, including non-constatives, involve a set of tacit validity claims: the claim that the speech act is sincere (non-deceptive), is socially appropriate or right, and is factually true (or more broadly: representationally adequate). Conversely, speech acts can be criticized for failing on one or more of these scores. Thus fully successful speech acts, insofar as they involve these three world relations, must satisfy the demands connected with these three basic validity claims (sincerity, rightness, and truth) in order to be acceptable.
We can think of strong communicative action in the above sense as defining the end of a spectrum of communicative possibilities. At that end, social cooperation is both deeply consensual and reasonable: actors sincerely agree that their modes of cooperation can be justified as good, right, and free of empirical error. Given the difficulties of maintaining such deep consensus, however, it makes sense, particularly in complex, pluralistic societies, to relax these communicative demands for specified types of situations, allowing for weaker forms of communicative action (in which not all three types of validity claims are at stake) or strategic action (in which actors understand that everyone is oriented toward individual success).
Habermas distinguishes the “system” as those predefined situations, or modes of coordination, in which the demands of communicative action are relaxed in this way, within legally specified limits. The prime examples of systemic coordination are markets and bureaucracies. In these systemically structured contexts, nonlinguistic media take up the slack in coordinating actions, which proceeds on the basis of money and institutional power—these media do the talking, as it were, thus relieving actors of the demands of strongly communicative action. The term “lifeworld,” by contrast, refers to domains of action in which consensual modes of action coordination predominate. In fact, the distinction between lifeworld and system is better understood as an analytic one that identifies different aspects of social interaction and cooperation (1991b). “Lifeworld” then refers to the background resources, contexts, and dimensions of social action that enable actors to cooperate on the basis of mutual understanding: shared cultural systems of meaning, institutional orders that stabilize patterns of action, and personality structures acquired in family, church, neighborhood, and school (TCA 1: chap. 6; 1998b, chap. 4).
As a theory of meaning, TCA has encountered rather heavy weather. In the analytic philosophy of language, one of the standard requirements is to account for the compositionality of language, the fact that a finite set of words can be used to form an indefinite number of sentences. From that perspective, Habermas's theory falls short (Heath 2001, chap. 3). But perhaps we would do better to assess Habermas's theory of meaning from a different perspective. The compositionality requirement is important if one wants to explain grammatical competence. But early on Habermas (1976b) expressed a greater interest in explaining communicative, rather than grammatical, competence: the ability of speakers to use grammatically well-formed sentences in social contexts. Although Habermas often presents his pragmatics as a further development in analytic theories of meaning, his analysis focuses primarily on the context-sensitive acceptability of speech acts: acceptability conditions as a function of formal features that distinguish different speech situations. This suggests his theory of meaning involves a quite different sort of project: to articulate the “validity basis” of social order.
The significance of this conception of reaching understanding and of rationally motivated agreement can also be seen by contrasting this account with other conceptions of understanding and interpretation, such as Gadamer's hermeneutics. Given Habermas's conception of speech acts and their relation to validity claims, it is not surprising that he argues that “communicative actions always require interpretations that are rational in approach” (TCA 1: 106), that is, ones that are made in the performative attitude by an interpreter. In general, Habermas agrees with hermeneutics that the whole domain of the social sciences is accessible only through interpretation, precisely because processes of reaching understanding already at work in the social sciences have antecedently constituted them (ibid., 107). But he draws a distinctive conclusion. Although social scientists are not actors, they must employ their own pretheoretical knowledge to gain interpretive access through communicative experience. As a “virtual participant,” the social scientist must take a position on the claims made by those he observes: he has access through communicative experience only “under the presupposition that he judges the agreement and disagreement, the validity claims and potential reasons with which he is confronted” (ibid., 116). There is then no disjunction between the attitude of the critic and the interpreter as reflective participants. Social scientists may withhold judgments, but only at the cost of impoverishing their interpretation and putting out of play their pretheoretical, practical knowledge that they have in common with others who are able to reach understanding. Thus, various forms of rationality become essential to the social sciences, because of the nature of the social domain.
Objecting to Habermas's line of argument, McCarthy and others have argued that it is not a necessary condition that interpreters take a position in order to understand reasons, even if we have to rely on our own competence to judge the validity and soundness of reasons and to identify them as reasons at all. Nonetheless, Habermas uses this conception in his social theory of modernity to show the ways in which modern culture has unleashed communicative rationality from its previous cultural and ideological constraints. In modern societies, social norms are no longer presumed to be valid but rather are subjected to critical reflection, as for example when the ethical life of a specific culture is criticized from the standpoint of justice. In a sense consistent with the Enlightenment imperative to use one's own reason, the everyday “lifeworld” of social experience has been rationalized, especially in the form of discourses that institutionalize reflective communicative action, as in scientific and democratic institutions.
The rationalization of the lifeworld in Western modernity went hand-in-hand with the growth of systemic mechanisms of coordination already mentioned above, in which the demands on fully communicative consensus are relaxed. If large and complex modern societies can no longer be integrated solely on the basis of shared cultural values and norms, new nonintentional mechanisms of coordination must emerge, which take the form of nonlinguistic media of money and power. For example, markets coordinate the collective production and distribution of goods nonintentionally, even if they are grounded in cultural and political institutions such as firms and states. Modernization can become pathological, as when money and power “colonize the lifeworld” and displace communicative forms of solidarity and inhibit the reproduction of the lifeworld, as when, for example, universities become governed by market strategies. “Juridification” is another such pathological form, when law comes to invade more and more areas of social life, turning citizens into clients of bureaucracies with what Foucault might call “normalizing” effects. This aspect of TCA has less of an impact on Habermas's current work, which returns to the theme of improving democratic practice as a means of counteracting juridification and colonization. Democratic institutions, if properly designed and robustly executed, are supposed to ensure that the law does not take this pathological form but is subject to the deliberation of citizens, who thus author the laws to which they are subject (see sec. 3.4).
After TCA, then, Habermas begins to see law not as part of the problem, but as part of the solution, once he offers a more complete discourse-theoretical account of law and democracy. Nonetheless the theory of modernity still remains in his continued use of systems theory and its understanding of nonintentional integration. By insisting upon popular sovereignty as the outcome of the generation of “communicative power” in the public sphere, Habermas tries to save the substance of radical democracy. The unresolved difficulty is that in a complex society, as Habermas asserts, “public opinion does not rule” but rather points administrative power in particular directions; or, as he puts it, it does not “steer” but “countersteers” institutional complexity (1996b, chapter 8). That is, citizens do not control social processes; they exercise influence through particular institutionalized mechanisms and channels of communication. However successful democracy is in creating legitimacy, it cannot gain full control over large-scale complex societies, nor even of the necessary conditions for its own realization. In this sense, Habermas's emphasis on the limiting effect of complexity on democracy and his rejection of a fully democratic form of sociation continue the basic argument of the necessity of systems integration, even with its costs. Radical democracy may no longer be the only means to social transformation, though it is clear that it remains “the unfinished project of modernity”: realizing and transforming democracy is still a genuine goal even for complex and globalizing societies.
3.2 Habermas's Discourse Theory
Habermas's theory of communicative action rests on the idea that social order ultimately depends on the capacity of actors to recognize the intersubjective validity of the different claims on which social cooperation depends. In conceiving cooperation in relation to validity claims, Habermas highlights its rational and cognitive character: to recognize the validity of such claims is to presume that good reasons could be given to justify them in the face of criticism. TCA thus points to and depends on an account of such justification—that is, on a theory of argumentation or discourse, which Habermas calls the “reflective form” of communicative action.
As mentioned above, Habermas proposes a multi-dimensional conception of reason that expresses itself in different forms of cognitive validity: not only in truth claims about the empirical world, but also in rightness claims about the kind of treatment we owe each other as persons, authenticity claims about the good life, technical-pragmatic claims about the means suitable to different goals, and so on. As he acknowledges, the surface grammar of speech acts does not suffice to establish this range of validity types. Rather, to ground the multi-dimensional system of validity claims, one must supplement semantic analysis with a pragmatic analysis of the different sorts of argumentative discourse—the different “logics of argumentation”—through which each type can be intersubjectively justified (TCA 1: 8–42). Thus, a type of validity claim counts as distinct from other types only if one can establish that its discursive justification involves features that distinguish it from other types of justification. Whether or not his pragmatic theory of meaning succeeds, the discursive analysis of validity illuminates important differences in the argumentative demands that come with different types of justifiable claims. To see how Habermas identifies these different features, it is first necessary to understand the general structures of argumentation.
The pragmatic analysis of argumentation in general. Habermas's discourse theory assumes that the specific type of validity claim one aims to justify—the cognitive goal or topic of argumentation—determines the specific argumentative practices appropriate for such justification. Discourse theory thus calls for a pragmatic analysis of argumentation as a social practice. Such analysis aims to reconstruct the normative presuppositions that structure the discourse of competent arguers. To get at these presuppositions, one cannot simply describe argumentation as it empirically occurs; as we already saw in TCA, one must adopt the performative attitude of a participant and articulate the shared, though often tacit, ideals and rules that provide the basis for regarding some arguments as better than others. Following contemporary argumentation theorists, Habermas assumes one cannot fully articulate these normative presuppositions solely in terms of the logical properties of arguments. Rather, he distinguishes three aspects of argument-making practices: argument as product, as procedure, and as process, which he loosely aligns with the traditional perspectives on argument evaluation of logic, dialectic, and rhetoric. Pragmatically, each of these perspectives functions as a “level of presupposition” involved in the assessment of the cogency—the goodness or strength—of arguments. Habermas seems to regard these perspectives, taken together, as constituting the pragmatic idea of cogency: “at no single one of these analytic levels can the very idea intrinsic to argumentative speech be adequately developed” (TCA 1: 26).
At the logical level, participants are concerned with arguments as products, that is, sets of reasons that support conclusions. From this perspective, arguers aim to construct “cogent arguments that are convincing in virtue of their intrinsic properties and with which validity claims can be redeemed or rejected” (ibid., 25). Following work by Stephen Toulmin and other informal logicians, Habermas regards most if not all argumentation as ultimately resting on ampliative arguments whose conclusions do not follow with deductive certainty but only as more or less plausible or probable. The logical strength of such arguments depends on how well one has taken into account all the relevant information and possible objections. Thus the term “logical” has a broad sense that includes not only formal but also informal logics, in which strength depends on the interrelated meanings of terms and background information that resists complete formalization: induction, analogy, narrative, and so on.
Given the ampliative character of most arguments, logical assessment presupposes the dialectical adequacy of argumentative procedures. That is, we may regard the products of our argument-making practices as logically strong only if we presume, at the dialectical level, that we have submitted arguments and counterarguments to sufficiently severe procedures of critical discussion—as Habermas (TCA 1: 26) puts it, a “ritualized competition for the better arguments.” Dialectical treatments of argumentation typically spell out the “dialectical obligations” of discussants: that one should address the issue at hand, should respond to relevant challenges, meet the specified burden of proof, and so on.
However, robust critical testing of competing arguments depends in turn on the rhetorical quality of the persuasive process. Habermas conceives the rhetorical level in terms of highly idealized properties of communication, which he initially presented as the conditions of an “ideal speech situation” (1973a; also 1971/2001). That way of speaking now strikes him as overly reified, suggesting an ideal condition that real discourses must measure up to, or at least approximately satisfy—motifs that Habermas himself employed until rather recently (cf. 1993, 54–55; 1996b, 322–23). He now understands the idea of rhetorically adequate process as a set of unavoidable yet counterfactual “pragmatic presuppositions” that participants must make if they are to regard the actual execution of dialectical procedures as a sufficiently severe critical test. Habermas (2005b, 89) identifies four such presuppositions as the most important: (i) no one capable of making a relevant contribution has been excluded, (ii) participants have equal voice, (iii) they are internally free to speak their honest opinion without deception or self-deception, and (iv) there are no sources of coercion built into the process and procedures of discourse. Such conditions, in effect, articulate what it would mean to assess all the relevant information and arguments (for a given level of knowledge and inquiry) as reasonably as possible, weighing arguments purely on the merits in a disinterested pursuit of truth. These conditions are counterfactual in the sense that actual discourses can rarely realize—and can never empirically certify—full inclusion, non-coercion, and equality. At the same time, these idealizing presuppositions have an operative effect on actual discourse: we may regard outcomes (both consensual and non-consensual) as reasonable only if our scrutiny of the process does not uncover obvious exclusions, suppression of arguments, manipulation, self-deception, and the like (2003a, 108). In this sense, these pragmatic idealizations function as “standards for a self-correcting learning process” (2005b, 91).
As an understanding of the rhetorical perspective, Habermas's highly idealized and formal model hardly does justice to the substantive richness of the rhetorical tradition. One can, however, supplement his model with a more substantive rhetoric that draws on Aristotle's account of ethos and pathos (Rehg 1997). In that case, the rhetorical perspective is concerned with designing arguments for their ability to place the particular audience in the proper social-psychological space for making a responsible collective judgment. But the “space of responsible judgment” still remains an idealization that may not be reduced to any observable actual behavior, but can at most be defeasibly presumed. The same probably holds for dialectical procedures. Although the dialectical perspective draws on the tradition of public debate, dialectical norms, when understood as pragmatic presuppositions, are not identical with institutionalized rules of debate (1990a, 91). A neutral observer can judge whether interlocutors have externally complied with institutional procedures, whereas engaged participants must judge how well they have satisfied the dialectical presupposition of severe critical testing.
The differentiation of argumentative discourses. If the different validity claims require different types of argumentation, then the relevant differences must emerge through a closer analysis of the ways the above aspects of argumentative practice adjust to different sorts of content, that is, the different validity claims at issue (cf. 2005b, chap. 3). To be sure, Habermas does not regard every validity claim as open to discourse proper. Sincerity claims (or “truthfulness claims,” as it is sometimes translated) are the prime example. These are claims an actor makes about his or her interior subjectivity: feelings, moods, desires, beliefs, and the like. Such claims are open to rational assessment, not in discourse but by comparison with the actor's behavior: for example, if a son claims to care deeply about his parents but never pays them any attention, we would have grounds for doubting the sincerity of his claim. Note that such insincerity might involve self-deception rather than deliberative lying.
Truth and rightness claims, by contrast, are susceptible to argumentative justification in the proper sense, through what Habermas calls “strict discourses.” As he first analyzed the discourses connected with these two types of validity (1973a), they had much in common. Although the types of reasons differed—moral discourse rested primarily on need interpretations, empirical-theoretical discourse on empirical inductions—in both cases, the relevant reasons should, in principle, be acceptable to any reasonable agent. In the case of empirical truth claims, this process-level presupposition of consensus rests on the idea that the objective world is the same for all; in the case of moral rightness, it rests on the idea that valid moral rules and principles hold for all persons. In both cases, the appropriate audience for the testing of claims is universal, and in making a truth or rightness claim one counterfactually presupposes that a universal consensus would result, were the participants able to pursue a sufficiently inclusive and reasonable discourse for a sufficient length of time. Although his early statements are somewhat unclear, on one reading Habermas defined not only moral rightness but also empirical truth in terms of such ideal consensus (similar to C. S. Peirce). He now further distinguishes truth from moral rightness by defining the latter, but not the former, in terms of idealized consensus. More on that below.
Authenticity claims, unlike truth and rightness claims, do not come with such a strong consensual expectation. Habermas associates this type of claim with “ethical” discourse. Unlike moral discourse, in which participants strive to justify norms and courses of action that accord due concern and respect for persons in general, ethical discourses focus on questions of the good life, either for a given individual (“ethical-existential” discourse) or for a particular group or polity (“ethical-political” discourse). Consequently, the kind of reasons that constitute cogent arguments in ethical discourse depend on the life histories, traditions, and particular values of those whose good is at issue. This reference to individual- and group-related particularities means that one should not expect those reasons to win universal consensus (1993, 1–18; 1996b, 162–68). However, Habermas (2003b) seems to recognize one class of ethical questions that do admit of universal consensus. Choices of technologies that bear on the future of human nature, such as genetic enhancement engineering, pose species-wide ethical issues. Such issues concern not merely our self-understanding as members of this or that particular culture or tradition, but how we should understand our basic human dignity. The core of human dignity, and thus the basis for a human-species ethics, on his view, lies in the capacity of human beings for autonomous self-determination.
In sum, Habermas's discourse theory aligns different types of validity claim with different types of justificatory discourse. At the logical level, cogent arguments must employ somewhat different sorts of reasons to justify different types of claims. Although some sorts of reasons might enter into each type of discourse (e.g., empirical claims), the set of relevant considerations that are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for making logically strong arguments will differ. Thus, claims about what human beings need are relevant reasons in moral arguments about welfare obligations, but not for supporting the truth claim that quarks exist. At the dialectical level, one must meet different burdens of proof by answering different types of challenges. For example, in defending the ethical authenticity of Tom's pursuit of a career in medicine, one need not show that medicine is a career everyone must follow, but only that such a career makes sense, given Tom's personal background, talents, and desires. One can also examine Tom's career choice from a moral perspective, but in that case one need only show that anyone in his circumstances is morally permitted to pursue medicine. At the rhetorical level, finally, the scope and depth of agreement differs according to the type of claim. Moral rightness claims and empirical truth claims are justified by reasons that should be acceptable to a universal audience, whereas ethical claims are addressed to those who share a particular history and tradition of values.
Having differentiated types of discourse, Habermas must say something about how they interrelate. Clearly, some discourses depend on other types: most obviously, moral and ethical discourses partly depend on empirical claims, and thus depend on the outcome of empirical discourses about the circumstances and consequences of behavioral rules and the collective pursuit of the good life. The question of interrelationship becomes especially urgent in the political sphere, where different discourses intertwine and lead to competing conclusions, or when issues arise in which discourse types cannot be cleanly separated, so that the standards of cogency become obscure or deeply contested (McCarthy 1991, chap. 7; 1998). Because Habermas (1996c, 1534f) rejects the idea of a metadiscourse that sorts out these boundary issues, he must answer this challenge in his democratic theory. Before taking up that topic, Habermas's theory of truth deserves a closer look.
3.3 Habermas's Theory of Truth and Knowledge
In his various essays on empirical truth, Habermas usually regards propositions as the truth-bearer: in making an assertion, “I am claiming that the proposition [Aussage] that I am asserting is true” (1971/2001, 86; cf. 2003a, 249ff). In his early treatment, however, he immediately equated empirical truth with ideal justifiability—the consensus theory of truth mentioned above. According to that theory, the “truth condition of propositions is the potential assent of all others”; thus “the universal-pragmatic meaning of truth…is determined by the demand of reaching a rational consensus” (1971/2001, 89; cf. 86). Such formulations suggest that Habermas equated the meaning of truth with the outcome of a universal, rational consensus, which he understood in reference to the ideal speech situation (ibid., 97–98). However, he soon saw the difficulties with consensus theory, and he never allowed “Wahrheitstheorien” (1973a), his main essay on the consensus theory of truth, to appear in English. Like the “epistemic” theories of truth that link truth with ideal warranted assertibility (e.g., Hilary Putnam, Crispin Wright), consensus theory downplays the justification-transcendent character of truth (2003a, 250–52).
Habermas now proposes instead a “pragmatic epistemological realism” (2003a, 7; 1998b, chap. 8). His theory of truth is realist in holding that the objective world, rather than ideal consensus, is the truth-maker. If a proposition (or sentence, statement) for which we claim truth is indeed true, it is so because it accurately refers to existing objects, or accurately represents actual states of affairs—albeit objects and states of affairs about which we can state facts only under descriptions that depend on our linguistic resources. The inescapability of language dictates the pragmatic epistemological character of his realism. Specifically, Habermas eschews the attempt to explicate the relationship between proposition and world metaphysically (e.g., as in correspondence theories). Rather, he explicates the meaning of accurate representation pragmatically, in terms of its implications for everyday practice and discourse. Insofar as we take propositional contents as unproblematically true in our daily practical engagement with reality, we act confidently on the basis of well-corroborated beliefs about objects in the world. What Habermas (1971/2001, 94; TCA 1: 23) calls “theoretico-empirical” or “theoretical” discourse becomes necessary when beliefs lose their unproblematic status as the result of practical difficulties, or when novel circumstances pose questions about the natural world. Such cases call for an empirical inquiry in which truth claims about the world are submitted to critical testing. Although Habermas tends to sharply separate action and discourse, it seems more plausible to regard such critical testing as combining discourse with experimental actions—as we see in scientific inquiry, which combines empirical arguments with practical actions, that is, field observations and laboratory experimentation.
To date Habermas has not drawn out the implications of his discourse theory for a detailed account of truth-oriented discourses, which we find most highly developed in the sciences. As an argumentation theory, such an account would probably have to take the following broad lines: at the logical level, the discursive justification of problematic truth claims heavily relies on empirical reasons: observation reports, results of experimental tests, and the like. Similarly for the dialectical level: the chief challenges arise from theories and observations that seemingly conflict with the claim at issue or with its supporting reasons. At the rhetorical level, one seeks the agreement of a potentially universal audience, given that truth claims are about an objective world that is the same for all human beings. This sketch, however, leaves out precisely the details that would make a discourse theory of science interesting. For example, how do epistemic and aesthetic values (scope, accuracy, simplicity, etc.) affect the logical construction of scientific arguments? Must not the presupposition of a universal audience be attenuated, given that scientists investigate aspects of the world (e.g., subatomic particles) that are inaccessible to all but a small group of trained experts? How does the cogency of scientific arguments depend on or involve various institutional structures and mechanisms, such as peer review, assignment of credit, distribution of grant money, and so on?
3.4 Habermas's Discourse Theory of Morality, Politics, and Law
Habermas's two enduring interests in political theory and rationality come together in his discourse theory of deliberative democracy. There we see him struggling to show how his highly idealized, multi-dimensional discourse theory has real institutional purchase in complex, modern societies. In that context, argumentation appears in the form of public discussion and debate over practical questions that confront political bodies. The challenge, then, is to show how an idealized model of practical discourse connects with real institutional contexts of decision-making.
Habermas summarizes his idealized conception of practical discourse in the “discourse principle” (D), which we might state as follows: A rule of action or choice is justified, and thus valid, only if all those affected by the rule or choice could accept it in a reasonable discourse. Although he first understood (D) as a principle of moral discourse, he now positions it as an overarching principle of impartial justification that holds for all types of practical discourse (cf. 1990a, 66, 93; 1996b, 107). As such, it simply summarizes his argumentation theory for any question involving the various “employments of practical reason” (1993, chap. 1). (D) thus applies not only to moral rightness and ethical authenticity, but also to the justification of technical-pragmatic claims about the choice of effective means for achieving a given end. Each type of practical discourse then involves a further specification of (D) for the content at issue. In developing his democratic theory, Habermas has been especially concerned with two such specifications: moral discourse and legal-political discourse. In distinguishing these two types of discourse, Habermas tackles the traditional problem of the relationship between law and morality. He also shows how to bring high-level discursive idealizations down to institutional earth. We start with his account of moral discourse.
Habermas's discourse ethics. Habermas's discourse theory of morality generally goes by the name “discourse ethics,” a somewhat misleading label given that “ethics” has a distinct non-moral sense for him, as noted above. The idea of a discourse ethics was anticipated by G. H. Mead (1962, 379–89) and has been pursued by a number of philosophers (e.g., Karl-Otto Apel, Seyla Benhabib). Habermas's version is heavily indebted to the Kantian tradition. Like Kant, he considers morality a matter of unconditional moral obligations: the prohibitions, positive obligations, and permissions that regulate interaction among persons. The task of moral theory is to reconstruct the unconditional force of such obligations as impartial dictates of practical reason that hold for any similarly situated agent. Also like Kant, Habermas links morality with respect for autonomous agency: in following the dictates of impartial reason, one follows one's own conscience and shows respect for other such agents. Unlike Kant, however, Habermas takes a dialogical approach to practical reason, as his discourse theory requires. Kant assumed that in principle each mature, reflective individual, guided by the Categorical Imperative, could reach the same conclusions about what duty requires. This assumption has long been recognized as problematic, but in pluralistic and multicultural settings it becomes entirely untenable: one may plausibly claim to take an impartial moral point of view only by engaging in real discourse with all those affected by the issue in question.
Habermas's (D)-Principle articulates this dialogical requirement. If one assumes this requirement, then one can arrive at Habermas's specific conception of reasonable moral discourse by working out the implications of his argumentation theory for the discursive testing of unconditional moral obligations. What one gets, according to Habermas, is a dialogical principle of universalization (U): “A [moral norm] is valid just in case the foreseeable consequences and side-effects of its general observance for the interests and value-orientations of each individual could be jointly accepted by all concerned without coercion” (i.e., in a sufficiently reasonable discourse) (1998a, 42; trans. amended). The (U)-Principle assumes that valid moral rules or norms allow for an egalitarian community of autonomous agents—as Kant (1785, Ak. 433; also 431) put it, a “systematic union of different rational beings” governed by “common laws.” From the standpoint of argumentation theory, (U) seems to state the burden of proof that structures an adequate process and procedure of justification.
The (U)-Principle has been a site of controversy among discourse theorists, and not everyone considers it necessary for a discourse ethics (Benhabib and Dallmayr 1990; Wellmer 1991; Gottschalk-Mazouz 2000). Habermas has argued that (U) can be deduced from statements articulating the pragmatic implications of argumentative discourse over moral norms (1990a, 86–93; 1998a, 39–45). More precisely, a successful deduction probably depends on three assumptions: (D), a statement of the semantics of unconditional norms, and an articulation of the pragmatics of discourse. If we accept (D) and if we accept Habermas's explication of the rhetorical presuppositions of the discursive justification required by (D), then (U) would have to follow as an implication of what is required for discursively justifying norms with the specific content of moral norms, namely obligations that bind persons in general and whose acceptance thus affects each person's pursuit of interests and the good life.
Whether or not the argument for (U) goes through, Habermas's discourse ethics depends on some very strong assumptions about the capacity of persons for moral dialogue. Given that his discourse theory in general, and thus (U) in particular, rests on counterfactual idealizations, one might be tempted to regard (U) as a hypothetical thought experiment, analogous to what we find in other neo-Kantian or contractualist theories like those of John Rawls and T. M. Scanlon. To some extent this is correct: to regard a moral norm as valid, one must presume it would hold up in a fully inclusive and reasonable discourse. But Habermas takes a further step, insisting that (U) is a principle of real discourse: an individual's moral judgment counts as fully reasonable only if it issues from participation in actual discourse with all those affected. Moreover, (U) requires not simply that one seek the input of others in forming one's conscience, but that one gain their reasonable agreement.
To bring such strong idealizations down to earth, one must connect them with conscientious judgment in everyday moral practice. One way to do this is through an account of the appropriate application of moral rules in concrete circumstances. Following Günther 1993, Habermas (1993, 35–39) acknowledges the need for such an account. In moral discourses of application, one must test alternative normative interpretations of the particular situation for their acceptability before the limited audience of those immediately involved, on the assumption that one is applying valid general norms. But even at the level of application, discourse cannot always include all the affected parties (e.g., when the issue concerns the fate of a comatose patient). Habermas's discourse ethics thus implies that for many, if not most, of our moral rules and choices, the best we can achieve are partial justifications: arguments that are not conclusively convincing for all, but also are not conclusively defeated, in limited discourses with interlocutors we regard as reasonable (cf. Rehg 2003, 2004).
Habermas (1990a, 116–94) has also attempted to give discourse ethics some empirical foothold by looking to moral psychology and social anthropology. The psychological line of argument draws on the theory of communicative action to reconstruct theories of moral development such as Lawrence Kohlberg's. According to Habermas, moral maturation involves the growing ability to integrate the interpersonal perspectives given with the system of personal pronouns; the endpoint of that process coincides with the capacity to engage in the mutual perspective-taking required by (U). The anthropological line of argument focuses on identity formation, drawing on the social psychology of G. H. Mead. In broad agreement with Hegelian models of mutual recognition, Mead understands the individual's development of a stable personal identity as inextricably bound up with processes of socialization that depend on participation in relationships of mutual recognition. Habermas (ibid., 195–215; 1990b) extends this analysis to respond to feminist and communitarian criticisms of impartialist, justice-based moralities. According to the standard critiques, such moralities assume an implausibly atomistic view of the self and thus fail to appreciate the moral import of particularity and cultural substance: particular relationships between unique individuals, on the one hand, and membership in particular cultural communities or traditions, on the other. Mead's analysis shows that the critics are on to an important point: if individuation depends on socialization, then any anthropologically viable system of morality must protect not only the integrity of individuals but also the web of relationships and cultural forms of life on which individuals depend for their moral development. Discourse ethics, Habermas claims, meets this two-fold demand in virtue of the kind of mutual perspective-taking it requires. If we examine (U), we see that it requires participants to attend to the values and interests of each person as a unique individual; conversely, each individual conditions her judgment about the moral import of her values and interests on what all participants can freely accept. Consequently, moral discourse is structured in a way that links moral validity with solidaristic concern for both the concrete individual and the morally formative communities on which her identity depends.
These arguments are certainly ambitious, and they raise as many questions as they answer. It is hardly surprising, then, that many commentators have not been persuaded by discourse ethics as a normative ethics. Rather, they regard it as plausible only in the context of democratic politics, or as a model for the critical evaluation of formal dialogues (e.g., environmental conflict resolution, medical ethics committees, and the like). Other critics have targeted discourse ethics at a metaethical level. In fact, Habermas first unveiled his moral theory in answer to moral non-cognitivism and skepticism (1990a, 43–115). In this context, (U) explicates a moral epistemology: what it means for moral statements to count as justified. If moral statements are justifiable, then they have a cognitive character in the sense that they are correct or not depending on how they fare in reasonable discourse. However, Habermas proposes (U) not merely as articulating a consensus model of moral justification, but as an explication of the meaning of rightness itself. Unlike truth, the rightness of a moral norm does not consist in reference to an independently existing realm of objects, but rather in the worthiness of the norm for intersubjective recognition. Thus rightness, unlike truth, means ideal warranted assertibility (2005b, 93; 2003a, chap. 6). However, discourse theorists remain divided over the proper understanding of idealized consensus and its relation to rightness.
Habermas's discourse theory of law and politics. The central task of Habermas's democratic theory is to provide a normative account of legitimate law. His deliberative democratic model rests on what is perhaps the most complex argument in his philosophical corpus, found in his Between Facts and Norms (1996b; German ed., 1992b; for commentary, see Baynes 1995; Rosenfeld and Arato 1998; vom Schomberg and Baynes 2004). Boiled down to its essentials, however, the argument links his discourse theory with an analysis of the demands inherent on modern legal systems, which Habermas understands in light of the history of Western modernization. The analysis thus begins with a functional explanation of the need for positive law in modern societies. This analysis picks up on points he made in TCA (see sec. 3.1 above).
Societies are stable over the long run only if their members generally perceive them as legitimate: as organized in accordance with what is true, right, and good. In premodern Europe, legitimacy was grounded in a shared religious worldview that penetrated all spheres of life. As modernization engendered religious pluralism and functional differentiation (autonomous market economies, bureaucratic administrations, unconstrained scientific research), the potentials for misunderstanding and conflict about the good and the right increased—just as the shared background resources for the consensual resolution of such conflicts decreased. When we consider this dynamic simply from the standpoint of the (D)-principle, the prospects for legitimacy in modern societies appear quite dim.
Sociologically, then, one can understand modern law as a functional solution to the conflict potentials inherent in modernization. By opening up legally defined spheres of individual freedom, modern law reduces the burden of questions that require general (society-wide) discursive consensus. Within these legal boundaries, individuals are free to pursue their interests and happiness as they see fit, normally through various modes of association, whether that pursuit is primarily governed by modes of strategic action (as in economic markets), by recognized authority or consensual discourse (e.g., within religious communities, in the sciences), or by bureaucratic rationality (as in hierarchically organized voluntary enterprises). Consequently, modern law is fundamentally concerned with the definition, protection, and resolution of conflicts among, individual freedoms in their various institutional and organizational contexts.
The demands on the legitimation of law change with this functional realignment: to be legitimate, modern law must secure the private autonomy of those subject to it. The legal guarantee of private autonomy in turn presupposes an established legal code and a legally defined status of equal citizenship in terms of actionable basic rights that secure a space for individual freedom. However, such rights are expressions of freedom only if citizens can also understand themselves as the authors of the laws that interpret their rights—that is, only if the laws that protect private autonomy also issue from citizens' exercise of public autonomy as lawmakers acting through elected representatives. Thus, the rights that define individual freedom must also include rights of political participation. As Habermas understands the relation between private and public autonomy, each is “co-original” or “equiprimordial,” conceptually presupposing the other in the sense that each can be fully realized only if the other is fully realized. The exercise of public autonomy in its full sense presupposes participants who understand themselves as individually free (privately autonomous), which in turn presupposes that they can shape their individual freedoms through the exercise of public autonomy. This equiprimordial relationship, Habermas (1998a, chap. 9) believes, enables his discourse theory to combine the best insights of the civic republican and classical liberal traditions of democracy, which found expression in Rousseau and Locke, respectively.
Habermas (1996b, chap. 3) understands these rights of liberty and political participation as an abstract system of basic rights generated by reflection on the nature of discursive legitimation (articulated in the D-Principle) in contexts shaped by the functional demands on modern law (or the “form” of positive law). Because these rights are abstract, each polity must further interpret and flesh them out for its particular historical circumstances, perhaps supplementing them with further welfare and environmental rights. In any case, the system of rights constitutes a minimum set of normative institutional conditions for any legitimate modern political order. The system of rights, in other words, articulates the normative framework for constitutional democracies, within which further institutional mechanisms such as legislatures and other branches of government must operate.
The idea of public autonomy means that the legitimacy of ordinary legislation must ultimately be traceable to robust processes of public discourse that influence formal decisionmaking in legislative bodies. Habermas summarizes this requirement in his democratic principle of legitimacy: “only those statutes may claim legitimacy that can meet with the assent of all citizens in a discursive process of legislation that in turn has been legally constituted” (1996b, 110). As he goes on to explain, this principle articulates the core requirement for “externally” institutionalizing the different types of practical discourse that are relevant for the justification of particular laws. Decisions about laws typically involve a combination of validity claims: not only truth claims about the likely consequences of different legal options, but also claims about their moral rightness (or justice), claims about the authenticity of different options in light of the polity's shared values and history, and pragmatic claims about which option is feasible or more efficient. Legitimate laws must pass the different types of discursive tests that come with each of these validity claims. Habermas also recognizes that many issues involve conflicts among particular interests that cannot be reconciled by discursive agreement on validity but only through fair bargaining processes.
This strong orientation toward cognitive validity qualifies Habermas's version of deliberative democracy as an “epistemic” theory. This puts his democratic principle in a rather puzzling position. On the one hand, it represents a specification of the discourse principle for a particular kind of discourse (legal-political discourse). This makes it analogous to the moral principle (U), which specifies (D) for moral discourse. As a specific principle of reasonable discourse, the democratic principle seems to have the character of an idealizing presupposition insofar as it presumes the possibility of consensual decisionmaking in politics. For Habermas, reasonable political discourse must at least begin with the supposition that legal questions admit in principle of single right answers (1996c, 1491–95), or at least a set of discursively valid answers on which a fair compromise, acceptable to all parties, is possible. This highly cognitive, consensualist presumption has drawn fire even from sympathetic commentators (Bohman 1996; McCarthy 1998).
On the other hand, the democratic principle lies at a different level from principles like (U), as Habermas himself emphasizes (1996b, 110). The latter specify (D) for a single type of practical discourse, in view of internal cognitive demands on justification, whereas the former pulls together all the forms of practical discourse and sets forth conditions on their external institutionalization. From this perspective, the democratic principle acts as a bridge that links the cognitive aspects of political discourse (as a combination of the different types of idealized discourse) with the demands of institutional realization in complex societies. As such, the democratic principle should refer not to consensus, but rather to something like a warranted presumption of reasonableness. In fact, in a number of places Habermas describes democratic legitimacy in just such terms, which we might paraphrase as follows: citizens may regard their laws as legitimate insofar as the democratic process, as it is institutionally organized and conducted, warrants the presumption that outcomes are reasonable products of a sufficiently inclusive deliberative process of opinion- and will-formation (2005b, 107-08). The presumption of reasonable outcomes thus rests not so much on the individual capacities of citizens to act like the participants of ideal discourse, but rather on the aggregate reasonableness of a “subjectless communication” that emerges as the collective result of discursive structures—the formal and informal modes of organizing discussion (1996b, 184–86, 301, 341). This means that democracy is “decentered,” no longer fully under control of its own conditions and no longer based on a congruent subject of self-legislating discourse.
In light of the above ambiguity in the status of (D), however, one might want to take a more pragmatic approach to democratic deliberation. Such an approach (e.g., Bohman 1996; McCarthy 1998) understands deliberation as less a matter of settling disputes over the cognitive validity of competing proposals than a matter of developing legal frameworks within which citizens can continue to cooperate despite disagreements about what is right or good.
3.5 Habermas's Cosmopolitanism
Habermas's discourse theory also has implications for international modes of deliberation—hence for the debate about a potential cosmopolitan political order. To understand his position in this debate, it helps to sketch a typology of the main theories. The current discussion moves along four main axes: political or social, institutional or noninstitutional, democratic or nondemocratic, and transnational or cosmopolitan. Theories are informed by background assumptions about the scope of cosmopolitanism: whether it is moral to the extent that it is concerned with individuals and their life opportunities, social to the extent that it makes associations and institutions central, or political to the extent that it focuses on specifically legal and political institutions, including citizenship. Habermas's position in this debate is moderate. It is not minimal in the sense of Rawls's law of peoples, which denies the need for any strong international legal or political order, much less a democratic one. Nor is it a strongly democratic position, such as David Held's version of cosmopolitan order. However, both Held and Habermas share a common emphasis on the emergence of international public law as central to a just global political order.
In his essay “Kant's Idea of Perpetual Peace: At Two Hundred Years' Historical Remove” (1998a, chap. 7; German ed., 1996a, chap. 7), Habermas was optimistic about the prospects for a global political order as the continuation of the form of democracy based on human rights typical of nation states. Democracy on the nation-state model connects three central ideas: that the proper political community is a bounded one; that it possesses ultimate political authority; and that this authority enables political autonomy, so that the members of the demos may freely choose the conditions of their own association and legislate for themselves. The normative core of this conception of democracy lies in the conception of freedom articulated in the third condition: that the subject of legal constraints is free precisely in being the author of the laws. Earlier we introduced Habermas's argument for “decentering” democracy under the conditions of pluralism and complexity. If this applies to the modern state, then it would seem that cosmopolitan democracy would take this trend even further. Yet, when discussing “postnational” legitimacy, Habermas clearly makes self-determination by a singular demos the fundamental normative core of the democratic ideal.
For Held (1995), cosmopolitan democracy is clearly continuous with democracy, at least in form, as it is realized within states. Not only does Held show how international society is already thickly institutionalized well beyond the systems of negotiation that Habermas makes central, he further recognizes that “individuals increasingly have complex and multilayered identities, corresponding to the globalization of economic forces and the reconfiguration of political power.” Such potentially overlapping identities provide the basis for participation in global civil society, in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and in other transnational civil associations, movements, and agencies that create opportunities for political participation at the global level. Held's approach thus has three enormous advantages: an emphasis on a variety of institutions; a multiplicity of levels and sites for common democratic activity; and a focus on the need for organized political actors in international civil society to play an important role in a system of global democracy. For all these advantages, the self-legislating demos reappears in Held's explicitly Lockean insistence that “the artificial person at the center of the modern state must be reconceived in terms of cosmopolitan public law.” In order to reconstitute the community as sovereign, Held argues that the demoi must submit to the will of the global demos: “cosmopolitan law demands the subordination of regional, national and local sovereignties to an overarching legal framework.”
Contrary to his earlier essay on Kant's Perpetual Peace, Habermas has now pulled back from Held's strong conception of cosmopolitanism. In The Postnational Constellation (2001a; German ed., 1998c) and more recent essays on the European Union, Habermas seeks to accommodate a wider institutional pluralism. Still, he cannot have it both ways. When considering various disaggregated and distributed forms of transnational political order, he describes them in nondemocratic terms, as a “negotiating system” governed by fair bargaining. This is because he clearly, and indeed surprisingly, makes self-determination through legislation the deciding criterion of democracy. Consequently, at the transnational level, the fundamental form of political activity is negotiation among democracies. This demos is at best a civic, rather than political, transnational order. Nonetheless, Habermas links the possibility of a “postnational democracy” to a shared and therefore particular political identity, without which, he contends, we are left with mere “moral” rather than “civic” solidarity. According to Habermas, even if such a political community is based on the universal principles of a democratic constitution, “it still forms a collective identity, in the sense that it interprets and realizes these principles in light of its own history and in the context of its own particular form of life” (2001a, 117, 107). Without a common ethical basis, institutions beyond the state must look to a “less demanding basis of legitimacy in the organizational forms of an international negotiation system,” the deliberative processes of which will be accessible to various publics and to organizations in international civil society (ibid., 109).
More recently, he argues that regulatory political institutions at the global level could be effective only if they take on features of governance without government, even if human rights as juridical statuses must be constitutionalized in the international system (2004, 130–31). As in the case of Allen Buchanan's minimalism, this less demanding standard of legitimacy does not include the capacity to deliberate about the terms governing the political authority of the negotiation system itself. This position is transnational, but ultimately nondemocratic, primarily because it restricts its overly robust deliberative democracy to the level of the nation state. The stronger criteria for democracy are not applied outside the nation state, where governance is only indirectly democratic and left to negotiations and policy networks. Furthermore, the commitment to human rights as legal statuses pushes Habermas in the direction of Held's fundamentally legal form of political cosmopolitanism. At the moment, Habermas's view of cosmopolitan politics is not yet fully stable. But it is clear that he thinks that a cosmopolitan order must be political (and not merely juridical); institutional (and not merely organized informally or by policy networks); transnational (to the extent that it would be like the European Union, an order of political and legal orders); and in some sense democratic or at least subject to democratic norms. However, in order for him to fully adopt this last characteristic of the international system, he will have to rethink his conception of democracy as self-legislation. If he does not do so, it seems impossible to fit democracy onto a transnational rather than fully Kantian cosmopolitan order.
4. The Dialogue between Naturalism and Religion
On the topic of religion, Habermas has taken a nuanced position that continues to develop. In his Theory of Communicative Action, he treated religion primarily from a sociological perspective, as an archaic mode of social integration. Since then, however, he has explored the role of religion in politics, on the one hand, and the relationships between religious and philosophical modes of discourse, on the other.
As a philosopher, Habermas has described his approach as a “methodological atheism,” by which he means a kind of experiment in radical demythologization whose outcome remains open. Taking this stance does not make him hostile or dismissive of faith and theological reflection; indeed, he grants that “indispensable potentials for meaning are preserved in religious language”—potentials that, at least so far, have not been fully reduced to philosophical and secular reasons (2002, 77, 162). At the same time, Habermas insists on the difference between theological and philosophical modes of discourse: as a reflection on faith, theology must not renounce its basis in religious experience and ritual. Consequently, he resists apologetic attempts to generate religious belief from philosophical premises. Rather, philosophers must satisfy themselves with the “transcendence from within” given with the context-transcending force of claims to truth and moral rightness.
Habermas has further developed his views on the relation between philosophy and faith in his dialogue with Cardinal Ratzinger (who would become Pope Benedict XVI)(2006b; German ed., 2005a). There he notes how much Western philosophy owes to its Christian heritage, which philosophers assimilated by developing ideas of “responsibility, autonomy and justification; history and remembering; new beginning, innovation, and return; alienation, internalization, and incarnation; individuality and community” (2006b, 44; trans. amended). The Christian idea of human beings as created in the image of God has been especially important for Western moral-political theory, which translated the religious idea into the secular view of persons as equal in dignity and deserving unconditional respect (ibid., 45). This assimilation of Christian ideas does not gut their substance, however. In fact, religious communities still harbor potentials of meaning from which philosophy can learn—potentials that have “been lost elsewhere and that cannot be restored by the professional knowledge of experts alone” (ibid., 43). As examples, he refers to the “differentiated possibilities of expression” and “sensitivities” regarding “lives that have gone astray, societal pathologies, the failure of individual life projects, and the deformation of misbegotten human relationships” (ibid., trans. amended). In acknowledging that religious modes of expression can harbor an integral cognitive content that is not exhausted by secular translations, Habermas seems to have located the boundaries of his methodological experiment in demythologization. He thus calls for a dialogue in which secular and religious forms of thought mutually inform and learn from each other.
This broad point on the relation between religious and secular modes of thought flows directly into the position Habermas takes in his “Religion in the Public Sphere“ regarding the relation between religion and public reasons (2006a; German ed., 2005b, chap. 5). At the center of contention are the duties of believing citizens to translate their religiously based claims into secular, publicly accessible reasons. Habermas stakes out his position between John Rawls and Robert Audi, on the one side, and Paul Weithmann and Nicholas Wolterstorff, on the other.
Audi places the heaviest burden on believers, requiring them to support only those laws for which they have sufficient public reasons; each citizen thus has a duty to translate religiously based arguments into secular ones. In his final statement on this issue, Rawls (1997) presents a “wide view” of public reason, according to which citizens may introduce reasons from reasonable comprehensive doctrines (which can include religious views), without translation, at any time into public discourse about constitutional essentials, provided that at some point in the future these reasons are translated into generally accessible public arguments. For Habermas, Audi and Rawls underestimate the existential force of religious belief—how such belief can, at least for some believers, provide the only sufficient basis for their political views, even when public reasons might also be taken as supporting the views in question. The demand that believers translate their comprehensive religious views into secular justifications imposes undue burdens on believers of this sort. The demand for translation, rather, pertains only to politicians and public officials with institutional power to make, apply, and execute the law.
As Habermas reads them, Weithmann and Wolterstorff take the opposite line from Rawls and Audi, opening up public discourse to untranslated religious arguments. Weithmann requires believers to argue for their positions as good for everyone, but he allows them to frame such arguments within their religiously based conception of justice. Wolterstorff removes even this mild constraint. Both thinkers do not impose any institutional filter: not only in the public sphere but also in the halls of power, religious reasons can suffice to justify coercive legal and administrative decisions. This move, Habermas maintains, undoes the neutrality principle that undergirds modern constitutional democracy, with its separation of church and state: the idea that “all enforceable political decisions must be formulated in a language that is equally accessible to all citizens, and it must be possible to justify them in this language as well” (2006a, 12). Indeed, Wolterstorff seems to reject a key idea behind democratic legitimation, namely the presumption that procedures and decisions should operate within a background framework of principles acceptable to all citizens. Consequently, it is unclear how a democracy should maintain its legitimacy and avoid devolving into an endless strife of factions simply vying for power.
In the background of these debates lay contention over the burdens of citizenship. Believers might object that Habermas still places an asymmetric burden on them. After all, they must eventually, at the institutional level, shift over to secular modes of justification, whereas non-believers need not carry out the same kind of move toward religious justification. In response, Habermas has offered the hypothesis that both believers and non-believers are involved in a complementary learning process in which each side can learn from the other. As a cooperative learning process, translation makes demands on both sides: the believer must seek publicly accessible arguments, whereas the non-believer must approach religion as a potential source of meaning, as harboring truths about human existence that are relevant for all.
In closing, we suggest three possible extensions to Habermas's reply to believers. First, one might note that in the West at least, Christians are not so burdened as one might think. After all, some of the most important secular ideas that inform constitutional democracy—ideas of inalienable individual rights, liberty, and the like—partly originated in Christianity. Second, one might point out that a reverse duty of translation on non-believers would involve a far heavier burden than that on believers, particularly in light of the first point. This is because some religious reasons, though they might have a surface intelligibility as propositions to non-believers, cannot be adequately appreciated or weighed apart from prolonged experience of living the faith. Although it remains important for non-believers to learn from believers, one should probably expect believers to have an epistemic advantage in the translation process, that is, the process of determining whether or not a given secular content adequately renders a religiously based reason. So if believers have the greater burden, then that makes sense: believers are actually in a better position to make the translation.
One might object that the second point presupposes an asymmetry between public secular reasons, to which both sides have access in principle, and religious reasons, to which only believers have initial and direct access. However, that objection supports Habermas's position, and so leads into the third extension of his view. The objection calls into question the assumption that everyone should in principle have equal access to secular reason. Once we question that assumption, it is unclear why secular reasons should have a privileged place in political discourse. However, to reject the public position of secular reasons, at least in a pluralistic polity, is to say there is no public reason. Rather, each citizen's perspective, religious or not, is comprehensive and somewhat opaque to others. In that case, however, every citizen now faces burdens of translation that she can shoulder only with the interlocutor's assistance. So the believer is not relieved of translation. Instead, everyone is now burdened by translation. To be sure, one might also remove the asymmetry between access to secular and religious reason by making each sort of discourse equally accessible to all in principle. But that view hardly does justice to the existential import of religious experience, and so should be rejected by believers.
Cited Works by Habermas
• 1953. Mit Heidegger gegen Heidegger denken. Zur Veröffentlichung von Vorlesungen aus dem Jahre 1935. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. July 25, 1953. [English, 1977]
• 1954. Das Absolute und das Geschichte. Von der Zwiespältigkeit in Schellings Denken. Ph.D. dissertation, Bonn University.
• 1962. Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit. Darmstadt: Luchterhand. [English, 1989]
• 1967. Zur Logik der Sozialwissenschaften. Philosophische Rundschau 14, Beiheft 5 (1966–67). Reprint: Zur Logik der Sozialwissenschaften. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1970. [English, 1988a]
• 1968a. Technik und Wissenschaft als Ideologie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 1970, 1973b]
• 1968b. Erkenntnis und Interesse. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 1971b]
• 1969. Protestbewegung und Hochschulreform. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 1970]
• 1970. Toward a Rational Society, J. J. Shapiro (trans.). Boston: Beacon. [German, 1968a, 1969]
• 1971a. Theorie und Praxis. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 1973b]
• 1971b. Knowledge and Human Interests. J. J. Shapiro (trans.). Boston: Beacon. [German, 1968b]
• 1971/2001. Reflections on the linguistic foundations of sociology: The Christian Gauss Lectures (Princeton University, February-March 1971). In Habermas, On the Pragmatics of Social Interaction, B. Fultner (trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001. 1–103. [German, 1984b, chap. 1]
• 1973a. Wahrheitstheorien. In H. Fahrenbach (ed.), Wirklichkeit und Reflexion. Pfüllingen: Neske. 211–265. Reprint: 1984b, chap. 2.
• 1973b. Theory and Practice, J. Viertel (trans.). Boston: Beacon. [German, 1968a, 1971a]
• 1973c. Nachwort. Appended to subsequent editions of Habermas, 1968a. [English, 1973d]
• 1973d. A postscript to Knowledge and Human Interests. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 3: 157–189. [German, 1973c]
• 1973e. Legitimationsprobleme im Spätkapitalismus. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 1975]
• 1975. Legitimation Crisis, T. McCarthy (trans.). Boston: Beacon. [German, 1973e]
• 1976a. Zur Rekonstruktion des Historischen Materialismus. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 1979]
• 1976b. Was heißt Universalpragmatik? In K.-O. Apel (ed.), Sprachpragmatik und Philosophie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. 174–272. [English, 1979, chap. 1]
• 1977. Martin Heidegger, on the publication of lectures from the year 1935. Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 6, no. 2: 155–180. [German, 1953]
• 1979. Communication and the Evolution of Society, T. McCarthy (trans.) Boston: Beacon. [German, 1976ab]
• 1981. Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns. Vol. 1: Handlungsrationalität und gesellschaftliche Rationalisierung. Vol. 2: Zur Kritik der funktionalistischen Vernunft. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 1984a, 1987]
• 1983. Moralbewußtsein und kommunikatives Handeln. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 1990a]
• 1984a. The Theory of Communicative Action. Vol. I: Reason and the Rationalization of Society, T. McCarthy (trans.). Boston: Beacon. [German, 1981, vol. 1]
• 1984b. Vorstudien und Ergänzungen zur Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.
• 1986a. Gerechtigkeit und Solidarität: Eine Stellungnahme zur Diskussion über “Stufe 6”. In W. Edelstein and G. Nunner-Winkler (eds), Zur Bestimmung der Moral. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. 291–318. Reprint: 1991a, chap. 3. [English, 1990b]
• 1986b. Entgegnung. In A. Honneth and H. Joas (eds), Kommunikatives Handeln. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. 327–405. [English, 1991b]
• 1987. The Theory of Communicative Action. Vol. II: Lifeworld and System, T. McCarthy (trans.). Boston: Beacon. [German, 1981, vol. 2]
• 1988a. On the Logic of the Social Sciences, S. W. Nicholsen and J. A. Stark (trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [German, 1967]
• 1988b. Nachmetaphysisches Denken. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 1992a]
• 1989. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, T. Burger and F. Lawrence (trans). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [German, 1962]
• 1990a. Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, C. Lenhardt and S. W. Nicholsen (trans). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [German, 1983]
• 1990b. Justice and solidarity: On the discussion concerning stage 6. In T. E. Wren (ed.), The Moral Domain. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 224–251, S. W. Nicholsen (trans.). [German, 1986a]
• 1990c. Die nachholende Revolution. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.
• 1991a. Erläuterungen zur Diskursethik. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 1993]
• 1991b. A reply. In A. Honneth and H. Joas (eds), Communicative Action, J. Gaines and D. L. Jones (trans.). Cambridge, MA: Polity. 214–264. [German, 1986b]
• 1991c. Einen unbedingten Sinn zu retten ohne Gott, ist eitel: Reflexionen über einen Satz von Max Horkheimer. In M. Lutz-Bachmann and G. Schmidt Noerr (eds), Kritischer Materialismus. Munich. 125–142. [English, 1993, chap. 4]
• 1992a. Postmetaphysical Thinking, W. M. Hohengarten (trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [German, 1988b]
• 1992b. Faktizität und Geltung. Beiträge zur Diskurstheorie des Rechtes und des demokratischen Rechtsstaats. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 1996b]
• 1993. Justification and Application, C. P. Cronin (trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [German, 1990c, 1991ac]
• 1996a. Die Einbeziehung des Anderen. Studien zur politischen Theorie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 1998a]
• 1996b. Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy, W. Rehg (trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [German, 1992b]
• 1996c. Reply to symposium participants, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Cardozo Law Review 17: 1477–1558, W. Rehg (trans.); with German text following: Replik auf Beiträge zu einem Symposion der Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 1559–1643. English reprint in M. Rosenfeld and A. Arato (eds), Habermas on Law and Democracy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 381–452. German reprint in Habermas 1996a, 309–398.
• 1998a. Inclusion of the Other: Studies in Political Theory, C. Cronin and P. DeGreiff (eds). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [German, 1996a]
• 1998b. On the Pragmatics of Communication, B. Fultner (trans.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [Collected from various German sources]
• 1998c. Die postnationale Konstellation. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 2001a]
• 1999a. Wahrheit und Rechtfertigung. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 2003a]
• 1999b. Rationalität und Verständigung. Sprechakttheoretische Erläuterungen zum Begriff der kommunikativen Rationalität. In Habermas, 1999a, chap. 2. [English, 1998b, chap. 7]
• 2000. Nach dreißig Jahren. Bemerkungen zu Erkenntnis und Interesse. In Müller-Doohm, ed. (2000), 12-20 (see Other Works Cited, below)
• 2001a. The Postnational Constellation, M. Pensky (trans., ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [German, 1998c]
• 2001b. Die Zukunft der menschlichen Natur. Auf dem Weg zu einer liberalen Eugenik? Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 2003b]
• 2002. Religion and Rationality: Essays on Reason, God, and Modernity, E. Medieta (ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [Collected from various German sources]
• 2003a. Truth and Justification, B. Fultner (trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [German, 1999a]
• 2003b. The Future of Human Nature, W. Rehg, M. Pensky, and H. Beister (trans.). Cambridge: Polity. [German, 2001b]
• 2004. Der gespaltene Westen. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. [English, 2006c]
• 2005a. Vorpolitische Grundlagen des demokratischen Rechtsstaates? In J. Habermas and J. Ratzinger, Dialetik der Säkularisierung: Über Vernunft und Religion, F. Schuller (ed.). Freiburg: Herder. 15–37. Reprint: 2005b, chap. 4. [English, 2006b]
• 2005b. Zwischen Naturalismus und Religion. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.
• 2006a. Religion in the public sphere. European Journal of Philosophy 14: 1–25, J. Gaines (trans.). [German, 2005b, chap. 5]
• 2006b. Pre-political foundations of the democratic constitutional state? In J. Habermas and J. Ratzinger, The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion, B. McNeil (trans.). San Francisco: Ignatius. 19–52. [German, 2005a]
• 2006c. The Divided West, C. Cronin (trans.). Cambridge: Polity. [German, 2004]
Other Works Cited
• Baynes, Kenneth. (1995). Democracy and the Rechtsstaat: Remarks on Habermas's Faktizität und Geltung. In S. White (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Habermas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 201–232.
• Benhabib, Seyla, and Fred Dallmayr (eds). (1990). The Communicative Ethics Controversy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
• Bohman, James (1996) Public Deliberation: Pluralism, Complexity, and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
• Bohman, James (1999) Theories, practices, and pluralism: A pragmatic interpretation of critical social science. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 28: 459–480.
• Bohman, James. (2000) Demokratischer und methodologischer Pluralismus: Eine pragmatische Interpretation der kritischen Forschung. In Müller-Doohm, ed. (2000), 299-327.
• Buchanan, Allen. (2004) Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
• Gottschalk-Mazouz, Niels. (2000). Diskursethik. Berlin: Akademie.
• Günther, Klaus. (1993) The Sense of Appropriateness, J. Farrell (trans.). Albany: SUNY Press.
• Heath, Joseph. (2001). Communicative Action and Rational Choice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
• Heidegger, Martin. (1959). An Introduction to Metaphyics, R. Manheim (trans.). New Haven: Yale University Press.
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First published Fri Oct 13, 2006
A citizen is a member of a political community who enjoys the rights and assumes the duties of membership. This broad definition is discernible, with minor variations, in the works of contemporary authors as well as in the entry “citoyen” in Diderot's and d'Alembert's Encyclopédie . Notwithstanding this common starting-point and certain shared references, the differences between 18th century discussions and contemporary debates are significant. The encyclopédiste's main preoccupation, understandable for one living in a monarchy, was the relationship between the concepts ‘citizen’ and ‘subject’. Were they the same (as Hobbes asserted) or contradictory (as a reading of Aristotle suggested)? This issue is less central today as we tend to take for granted that a liberal democratic regime is the appropriate starting-point for our reflections. This does not mean, however, that the concept has become uncontroversial. After a rather long period of relative calm, there has been a dramatic upsurge in philosophical interest in citizenship since the early 1990s.
Two broad challenges have led theorists to re-examine the concept: first, the need to acknowledge the internal diversity of contemporary liberal democracies; second, the pressures wrought by globalization on the territorial, sovereign state. We will focus on each of these two challenges, examining how they have led to new discussions and disagreements.
The entry has three principal sections. The first examines the main dimensions of citizenship (legal, political, identity) and sees how they are instantiated in very different ways within the two dominant models: the republican and the liberal. The feminist critique of the private/public distinction, central to both models, serves as a bridge to the entry's second part. It focuses upon two important debates about the implications of social and cultural pluralism to conceptions of citizenship: first, should they recognize, rather than transcend, difference and, if so, does this recognition affect citizenship's purported role in strengthening social cohesion? Second, how are we to understand the relation between citizenship and nationality under conditions of pluralism? The entry's final section discusses the challenges which globalisation poses to theories of citizenship. These theories have long taken for granted the idea that citizenship's necessary context is the sovereign, territorial state. This premise is being increasingly contested by those who question the state's right to determine who is accepted as a member and/or claim that citizenship can be meaningful beyond the boundaries of the nation-state.
• 1. Dimensions of citizenship
o 1.1. Definitions
o 1.2. Two models of citizenship: republican and liberal
o 1.3. The feminist critique
• 2. The challenge of internal diversity
o 2.1. Universalist vs differentialist conceptions of citizenship
o 2.2. Nationalists vs postnationalists
• 3. The challenge of globalisation
o 3.1. Citizenship and borders
o 3.2. The promise of transnational citizenship: sceptics vs voluntarists
• 4. Conclusion
• Other Internet Resources
• Related Entries
1. Dimensions of citizenship
The concept of citizenship is composed of three main elements or dimensions (Cohen 1999; Kymlicka and Norman 2000; Carens 2000). The first is citizenship as legal status, defined by civil, political and social rights. Here, the citizen is the legal person free to act according to the law and having the right to claim the law's protection. It need not mean that the citizen takes part in the law's formulation, nor does it require that rights be uniform between citizens. The second considers citizens specifically as political agents, actively participating in a society's political institutions. The third refers to citizenship as membership in a political community that furnishes a distinct source of identity.
In many ways, the identity dimension is the least straightforward of the three. Authors tend to include under this heading many different things related to identity, both individual and collective, and social integration. Arguably, this is inescapable since citizens' subjective sense of belonging, sometimes called the “psychological” dimension of citizenship (Carens 2000, 166), necessarily affects the strength of the political community's collective identity. If enough citizens display a robust sense of belonging to the same political community, social cohesion is obviously strengthened. However, since many other factors can impede or encourage it, social integration should be seen as an important goal (or problem) that citizenship aims to achieve (or resolve), rather than as one of its elements. As we will see, one crucial test for any conception of citizenship is whether or not it can be said to contribute to social integration.
Relations between the three dimensions are complex: the rights a citizen enjoys will partly define the range of available political activities while explaining how citizenship can be a source of identity by strengthening her sense of self-respect (Rawls 1972, 544). A strong civic identity can itself motivate citizens to participate actively in their society's political life. That distinct groups within a state do not share the same sense of identity towards ‘their’ political community (or communities) can be a reason to argue in favour of a differentiated allocation of rights (Carens 2000, 168–173).
As we will see, differences between conceptions of citizenship centre around four disagreements: over the precise definition of each element (legal, political and identity); over their relative importance; over the causal and/or conceptual relations between them; over appropriate normative standards.
1.2 Two models of citizenship: republican and liberal
Discussions about citizenship usually have, as their point of reference, one of two models: the republican or the liberal. The republican model's sources can be found in the writings of authors like Aristotle, Tacitus, Cicero, Machiavelli, Harrington and Rousseau, and in distinct historical experiences: from Athenian democracy and Republican Rome to the Italian city-states and workers' councils.
The key principle of the republican model is civic self-rule, embodied in classical institutions and practices like the rotation of offices, underpinning Aristotle's characterization of the citizen as one capable of ruling and being ruled in turn. Citizens are, first and foremost, “those who share in the holding of office” (Aristotle 1958, 1275a8). Civic self-rule is also at the heart of Rousseau's project in the Contrat Social: it is their co-authoring of the laws via the general will that makes citizens free and laws legitimate. Active participation in processes of deliberation and decision-making ensures that individuals are citizens, not subjects. In essence, the republican model emphasizes the second dimension of citizenship, that of political agency.
The liberal model's origins are traceable to the Roman Empire and early-modern reflections on Roman law (Walzer 1989, 211). The Empire's expansion resulted in citizenship rights being extended to conquered peoples, profoundly transforming the concept's meaning. Citizenship meant being protected by the law rather than participating in its formulation or execution. It became an “important but occasional identity, a legal status rather than a fact of everyday life” (Walzer 1989, 215). The focus here is obviously the first dimension: citizenship is primarily understood as a legal status rather than as a political office. It now “denotes membership in a community of shared or common law, which may or may not be identical with a territorial community” (Pocock 1995, 37). The Roman experience shows that the legal dimension of citizenship is potentially inclusive and indefinitely extensible.
The liberal tradition, which developed from the 17th century onwards, understands citizenship primarily as a legal status: political liberty is important as a means to protecting individual freedoms from interference by other individuals or the authorities themselves. But citizens exercise these freedoms primarily in the world of private associations and attachments, rather than in the political domain.
At first glance, the two models present us with a clear set of alternatives: citizenship as a political office or a legal status; central to an individual's sense of self or as an “occasional identity”. The citizen appears either as the primary political agent or as an individual whose private activities leave little time or inclination to engage actively in politics, entrusting the business of law-making to representatives. If the liberal model of citizenship dominates contemporary constitutional democracies, the republican critique of the private citizen's passivity and insignificance is still alive and well.
Republicans have problems of their own. First and foremost is a concern, often repeated since Benjamin Constant, that their ideal has become largely obsolete in the changed circumstances of the “grands États modernes” (Constant 1988). Aiming to realize the original republican ideal in the present context would be a disaster, as was the Jacobins' attempt during the French revolution (Walzer 1989, 211). Today's citizens will not be Romans: first, the scale and complexity of modern states seem to preclude the kind of civic engagement required by the republican model. If an individual's chances of having an impact as an active citizen are close to nil, then it makes more sense for him to commit himself to non-political activities, be they economic, social or familial. His identity as citizen is not central to his sense of self and politics is only one of his many interests (Constant 1988, 316). Second, the heterogeneity of modern states does not allow the kind of “moral unity” and mutual trust that has been projected onto the ancient polis, qualities deemed necessary to the functioning of republican institutions (Walzer 1989, 214). But if ancient virtue is irrecoverable, the republican model may still act today as “a benchmark that we appeal to when assessing how well our institutions and practices are functioning”(Miller 2000, 84). In essence, this involves a reformulation of the model, questioning some of its original premises while holding onto the ideal of the citizen as an active political agent.
Instead of opposing the two models, we could reasonably see them as complementary. Political liberty, as Constant pointed out, is the necessary guarantee of individual liberty. Echoing Constant, Michael Walzer considers that the two conceptions “go hand in hand” since “the security provided by the authorities cannot just be enjoyed; it must itself be secured, and sometimes against the authorities themselves. The passive enjoyment of citizenship requires, at least intermittently, the activist politics of citizens” (Walzer 1989, 217). There are times when individuals need only be “private citizens” and others when they must become “private citizens” (Ackermann 1988). But can we expect passive spectators of political life to become active citizens should the need arise? This is no easy question and may explain why Constant ended his famous essay by insisting that the regular exercise of political liberty is the surest means of moral improvement, opening citizens' minds and spirits to the public interest, and to the importance of defending their freedoms. Such habituation underpins their capacity and willingness to protect their liberties and the institutions that support them (Constant 1988, 327–328).
1.3 The feminist critique
Since the 1970s, feminist theorists have sharply criticized the republican and liberal models' shared assumption of a rigid separation between the private and the public spheres. Their critique has provided the impetus to the development of alternative conceptions of politics and citizenship.
In its classical formulation, the republican conception sees the public/political sphere as the realm of liberty and equality: it is there that free, male citizens engage with their peers and deliberate over the common good, deciding what is just or unjust, advantageous or harmful (Aristotle 1958, 1253a11). The political space must be protected from the private sphere, defined as the domain of necessity and inequality, where the material reproduction of the polis is secured. Women, associated with the ‘natural world’ of reproduction, are denied citizenship and relegated to the household.
Feminists have criticized this rigid division as mythical since both the separation itself and the radically unequal conception of the household that it presupposed “were clearly the outcome of political decisions made in the public sphere” (Okin 1992, 60). If the division ostensibly made it possible for citizens to engage with each other as equals, feminists doubt whether it ever was the ideal way of achieving this goal. Hence Susan Okin's question to republicans: “Which is likely to produce better citizens, capable of acting as each other's equals? Having to deal with things part of the time — even the ‘mundane’ things of daily life? Or treating most people as things?” (Okin 1992, 64–65). An egalitarian family is a much more fertile ground for equal citizens than one organized like a school for despotism (J.S. Mill); if this means that the political space cannot remain insulated from the world of things, there's no great loss.
The liberal model, for its part, gives primacy to the private sphere. Political liberty is seen in instrumental terms: the formal rights of individuals secure the private sphere from outside interference, allowing the free pursuit of their particular interests (Dietz 1998, 380–81). But the neutral language of Lockean egalitarian individualism hides the reality of women's subjection: “woman's sphere” can be read as “male property” since wives are described as naturally subordinated to their husbands. Here as well, the division between private and public has prevented women from gaining access to the public (Pateman 1989, 120; Dietz 1998, 380–81; Okin 1991, 118).
Since the public and private “are, and always have been, inextricably connected” (Okin 1992,69), the upshot of the feminist critique is not simply to make models of citizenship inclusive by recognizing that women are individuals or to acknowledge that they too can be citizens. Rather, we must see how laws and policies structure personal circumstances (e.g. laws about rape and abortion, child-care policies, allocation of welfare benefits, etc.) and how some ‘personal problems' have wider significance and can only be solved collectively through political action (Pateman 1989, 131). This does not make the distinction irrelevant and the categories collapsible. But it does mean that the boundaries between public and private should be seen as a social construction subject to change and contestation and that their hierarchical characterization should be resisted.
If we discard the abstractions that characterize both the classical and the liberal conceptions, the citizen sheds his “political lion skin” (Pateman 1989, 92 quoting Marx 1967) and appears as “situated” in a social world characterized by differences of gender, class, language, race, ethnicity, culture, etc. To accept that politics cannot and should not be insulated from private/social/economic life is not to dissolve the political, but, rather, to revive it since anything is as political as citizens choose to make it. As we will see now, this contextualized conception of the political has informed much of the criticism aimed at the universalist model of citizenship and has inspired the formulation of a differentialist alternative.
2. The challenge of internal diversity
2.1 Universalist vs differentialist conceptions of citizenship
The universalist or unitary model defines citizenship primarily as a legal status through which an identical set of civil, political and social rights are accorded to all members of the polity. T.H. Marshall's seminal essay “Citizenship and Social Class” is the main reference for this model, which became progressively dominant in post-World War II liberal democracies. Marshall's central thesis was that the 20th century's expansion of social rights was crucial to the working class's progressive integration in British society (Marshall 1950). Similar stories were told in other Western democracies: the development of welfare policies aimed at softening the impact of unemployment, sickness and distress was fundamental to political and social stability. The apparent success of the post-war welfare state in securing social cohesion was a strong argument in favour of a conception of citizenship focused on the securing of equal civil, political and social rights.
The universalist model was aggressively targeted at the end of the 1980s as the moral and cultural pluralism of contemporary liberal societies elicited increasing theoretical attention. Scepticism towards the universalist model was spurred by concerns that the extension of citizenship rights to groups previously excluded had not translated into equality and full integration, notably in the case of Afro-Americans and women (Young 1989; Williams 1998). A questioning of the causal relation assumed between citizenship as a uniform legal status and civic integration followed.
Critics argued that the model proves exclusionary if one interprets universal citizenship as requiring (a) the transcendence of particular, situated perspectives to achieve a common, general point of view and (b) the formulation of laws and policies that are difference-blind (Young 1989). The first requirement seems particularly odious once generality is exposed as a myth covering the majority's culture and conventions. The call to transcend particularity too often translates into the imposition of the majority perspective on minorities. The second requirement may produce more inequality rather than less since the purported neutrality of difference-blind institutions often belies an implicit bias towards the needs, interests and identities of the majority group. This bias often creates specific burdens for members of minorities, i.e. more inequality.
Critics of this (failed) universalism have proposed an alternative conception of citizenship based on the acknowledgment of the political relevance of difference (cultural, gender, class, race, etc.). This means, first, the recognition of the pluralist character of the democratic public, composed of many perspectives, none of which should be considered a priori more legitimate. Second, it entails that, in certain cases at least, equal respect may justify differential treatment and the recognition of special minority rights.
Once these two points are conceded, the question becomes when, and for what reason, the recognition of particular rights is either justified or illegitimate. This discussion is necessarily context specific, focusing on concrete demands made by groups in particular circumstances, and shies away from easy generalizations. It has led to an array of publications covering issues ranging from the fate of ‘minorities within minorities' to how tolerant liberal societies should be of illiberal groups, etc.
But the model of differentiated citizenship has generated its own share of criticisms and queries, particularly with regards to the overall effects of its implementation. Critics focus on its impact on the possibility of a common political practice. Consider Iris Young's vision of a heterogeneous public where participants start from their “situated positions” and attempt to construct a dialogue across differences. This dialogue requires participants to be ‘public-spirited’ — open to the claims of others and not single-mindedly self-interested. Unlike interest group pluralism, which does not require justifying one's interest as right or as compatible with social justice, participants are supposed to use deliberation to come to a decision that they determine to be best or more just (Young 1989, 267). While welcoming Young's conception of the democratic public, one may doubt that the policies and institutions associated with a differentiated model of citizenship would either motivate or enable citizens to engage in such dialogue.
This analysis is tied to a wider literature on the virtues required of citizens in pluralist liberal democracies and on ways to favour their development. Stephen Macedo (1990), William Galston (1991), and Eamonn Callan (1997), among others, have all emphasized the importance of public reasonableness. This virtue is defined as the ability to listen to others and formulate one's own position in a way that is sensitive to, and respectful of, the different experiences and identities of fellow citizens, acknowledging that these differences may affect political views. But how and where does one develop this and related virtue(s)? If a differentiated model of citizenship simply allows individuals and groups to retreat into their particular enclaves, how are they to develop either the motivation or the capacity to participate in a common forum?
One immediately understands political philosophers' renewed interest in education over the last twenty years. If we want citizens of diverse societies to develop the ‘right’ attitudes and dispositions, should we not encourage a common education, school them in a curriculum that teaches respect for difference, while providing the necessary skills for democratic discussion across these differences? If so, should we not resist demands for separate schools or dispensations for minorities? How flexible should public schools be towards minorities if the goal is to make them feel welcome and ensure that they do not retreat into parochial institutions? (Callan 1997; Gutmann 1999; Brighouse 2000, 2006)
Critics of differentiated citizenship have also argued that policies that break with difference-blind universalism can only weaken the integrative function of citizenship. If embracing multicultural and minority rights means that citizens lose their sense of collective belonging, it may also affect their willingness to compromise and make sacrifices for each other. Citizens may then develop a purely strategic attitude towards those of different backgrounds. As Joseph Carens puts it: “From this perspective, the danger of […] differentiated citizenship is that the emphasis [it] place[s] on the recognition and institutionalization of difference could undermine the conditions that make a sense of common identification and thus mutuality possible” (Carens 2000, 193). Critics of Aboriginal demands for self-government rights have pressed this concern with force (Cairns, 2000).
In addressing these and similar queries, Will Kymlicka and Wayne Norman have broadly distinguished between three types of demands: special representation rights (for disadvantaged groups), multicultural rights (for immigrant and religious groups) and self-government rights (for national minorities) (Kymlicka and Norman 1994; Kymlicka, 1995, 176–187). The first two are really demands for inclusion into mainstream society: special representation rights are best understood as (temporary) measures to alleviate the obstacles that minorities and/or historically disadvantaged groups face in having their voices heard in majoritarian democratic institutions. Reforming the electoral system to ensure the better representation of minorities may raise all sorts of difficult issues, but the aim is clearly integration into the larger political society, not isolation.
Similarly, the demands for multicultural rights made by immigrant groups are usually aimed either at exemption from laws and policies that disadvantage them because of their religious practices or at ensuring public support for particular education and/or cultural initiatives to maintain and transmit elements of their cultural and religious heritage. These should be seen as measures designed to facilitate their inclusion in the larger society rather than as a way to avoid integration.
According to Kymlicka and Norman, it is only claims to self-government rights, grounded in a principle of self-determination, that potentially endanger civic integration since their aim is not to achieve a greater presence in the institutions of the central government, but to gain a greater share of power and legislative jurisdiction for institutions controlled by national minorities: “While both representation and multicultural rights take the larger political community for granted and seek greater inclusion in it, demands for self-government reflect a desire to weaken the bonds with the larger community and, indeed, question its very nature, authority and permanence” (Kymlicka and Norman 1994, 375).
Addressing such demands through a simple reaffirmation of the ideal of common citizenship is not a serious option. It may only aggravate the alienation felt by members of these groups and feed into more radical political projects, including secession. Further, to say that recognition of self-government rights may weaken the bonds of the larger community is to suppose that these bonds exist in the first place and that a significant proportion of national minorities identify with the larger society. Yet such assumptions are often overly optimistic. If these bonds do not exist, or remain quite weak, what is needed is the construction of a genuine dialogue between the majority society and minorities over just relations, through which difference can be recognized. The hope is that such dialogue would strengthen, rather than weaken, their relationship by putting it on firmer moral and political grounds (Carens 2000, 197).
This broadly positive assessment of the effects of differentiated citizenship on civic integration has recently been questioned. On the one hand, left-leaning authors have complained that multicultural politics make egalitarian policies more difficult to achieve by diverting “political effort away from universalistic goals” and by undermining efforts to build a broadly based coalition supporting ambitious policies of redistribution (Barry 2001, 325). On the other hand, events like September 11, the killing of Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh and, most recently, the Mohammed cartoons affair have chilled the enthusiasm and led to something of a backlash against the recognition of multicultural rights. In particular, the belief that such demands are really demands for inclusion in the larger society has been thrown into doubt, notably in the case of Muslim immigrants. Increasingly wary, some European countries have introduced legislation aimed at better securing the integration of immigrants: by requiring minimal linguistic proficiency in the majority language as a condition of citizenship or by banning religious symbols from public schools. Such initiatives can only rekindle debate about what constitutes legitimate conditions of integration as opposed to the illegitimate imposition of the majority culture.
To allay fears about the supposed trade-off between cultural recognition and redistribution, supporters of multiculturalism cite the lack of empirical studies establishing a negative correlation between the adoption of multicultural policies and a robust welfare state (Kymlicka 2006, 7; Banting 2005). Further, claims that the push for multicultural policies diverts energies, time and resources from the struggle for redistributive policies assume that the pursuit of justice is zero-sum, seemingly a false generalization. On the contrary, it can be argued that: “the pursuit of justice in one dimension helps build a broader political culture that supports struggles for justice in other dimensions” (Kymlicka 2006, 18). In the same vein, to claim that paying attention to issues of cultural recognition tends to warp our sensitivity to economic injustice is to assume that we can only be sensitive to one dimension of injustice at a time. But it is equally plausible that sensitivity to a particular type of injustice may favour, rather than hinder, sensitivity to other injustices. Still, it is difficult not to agree with Anne Phillips' assessment that, in debates on democracy, there has been a tendency in the 1990s to focus either on political and cultural issues or on matters of social and economic concern. As she points out, there is a real need to reconnect reflections on socio-economic and political/cultural equality (Phillips 1999).
Supporters of multicultural rights are also responding to the changed climate surrounding multicultural demands of immigrant groups. Since worries centre over the ability and willingness of Muslim immigrants to integrate into Western liberal democracies, there has been a steady upsurge of interest in these groups. On an empirical level, there is a growing interest for research focusing on the particular challenges Europe faces in integrating Muslim minorities (e.g. history of colonization; importance of Muslim immigration as a proportion of total immigration; European unification, etc.) (Modood, Triandafyllidou, Zapata-Barrero, 2006; Klausen 2005). At a more theoretical level, there is a call to re-examine the complex relations between the secular liberal political cultures dominant in the West and religion, more particularly with regards to the difficult question of religion's place in the public sphere (Parekh 2006). It is critically important to give another look at the supposed ‘thinness' of contemporary liberalism and focus on what should be the basic elements of a common public culture to which all citizens could reasonably be expected to subscribe.
2.2 Liberal nationalists vs postnationalists
The debate between supporters and critics of differentiated citizenship centres on the model's supposed effect on civic integration. It is assumed that democratic citizenship, properly construed, can indeed function as a significant lever of integration. The idea is that citizenship as a set of civil, political and social rights and as a political practice can help generate desirable feelings of identity and belonging. This statement hides significant disagreement over how to characterize the relation between citizenship and nationality. Some consider that citizenship's capacity to fulfil its integrative function depends on, and feeds upon, the prior existence of a common nationality while others counter that, under conditions of pluralism, nationality cannot function as a suitable focus of allegiance and identity. The collective identity of modern democratic states should rather be based upon more abstract and universalistic political and legal principles that transcend cultural difference. This debate brings to the fore different assessments of the role that citizenship can play in contemporary societies characterized by a high degree of complexity and internal diversity.
Liberal nationalists like David Miller have argued that only specific forms of political practice can produce high levels of trust and loyalty between citizens (Miller 2000, 87). The political activities of the citizens of Athens or of Rousseau's ideal Republic presumed face-to-face relations of cooperation that favour the growth of such sentiments. The scale and complexity of modern states have made the kind of political practice envisaged by Rousseau and described by Aristotle at best marginal. Citizens do not meet under an oak tree to formulate the laws; they are basically strangers and citizens' involvement in the politics of representative democracies is episodic and diluted. Politics in this context cannot be expected to play a central role in most individuals' lives; something else must generate the trust and loyalty necessary to the functioning of a political community. Historically, it is the nation that has allowed large numbers of individuals to feel a sense of commonality, setting them apart from others and making solidarity among strangers possible.
Postnationalists do not dispute the key role played by the nation in making republican politics possible in large modern states. They agree that reference to a common nationality allowed the political mobilization of their inhabitants, calling on their shared descent, history or language. But democracy's association with the nation-state is contingent rather than necessary. And this, it is argued, means that democratic politics can, in principle, free itself from its historical moorings. Postnationalists claim that this dissociation is not only possible, but necessary for moral and pragmatic reasons (Habermas 1998, 132).
On the one hand, the balance sheet of the nation-state reveals a legacy of oppression of minority cultures within and cultural, political and economic imperialism outside its borders. On the other hand, the acknowledgment of the nation-state's (growing) internal diversity and sensitivity to the injustice of forced assimilation undermine its ability to continue playing the role it fulfilled in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Imposing the majority culture upon minorities may simply make it more difficult for them to identify with the nation-state and weaken its legitimacy.
In conditions of pluralism, therefore, the majority culture cannot serve as the grounding of a shared identity. It must be replaced by universalistic principles of human rights and the rule of law, which do not, it is argued, imply the imposition of a particular majority culture on minorities. Each political community develops distinctive interpretations of the meaning of these principles over time, which become embodied in its political and legal institutions and practices. These in turn form a political culture that crystallizes around the country's constitution and makes those principles into a ‘concrete universal’. This embedding of democratic and liberal principles in a distinctive political culture can, in turn, give rise to what Jürgen Habermas has called a “constitutional patriotism”, which should replace nationalism as the focus of a common identity. In countries that have achieved a strong national consciousness, the political culture has long been entangled with the majority culture. This “fusion”, argues Habermas, “must be dissolved if it is to be possible for different cultural, ethnic, and religious forms of life to coexist and interact on equal terms within the same political community” (Habermas 1998, 118).
The thrust of the argument is that democratic political practice can provide a sufficient stimulus to integration in complex democratic societies, and is indeed the only one properly available to them. There is no need for a background consensus based on cultural homogeneity to act as a ‘catalyzing condition’ for democracy to the extent that the democratic political process, involving public deliberation and decision-making, makes “a reasonable political understanding possible, even among strangers.” Democracy, as a set of procedures, can secure legitimacy in the absence of more substantive commonalities between citizens and achieve social integration. Since it is not wedded to particular cultural premises, it can be responsive to changes in the cultural composition of the citizenry and generate a common political culture (Habermas 2001a, 73–74). Habermas's position, then, gives pride of place to the democratic process and to the political participation of citizens, which play a key role in securing social integration: “In complex societies, it is the deliberative opinion- and will-formation of citizens, grounded in the principles of popular sovereignty, that forms the ultimate medium for a form of abstract, legally constructed solidarity that reproduces itself through political participation” (Habermas 2001a, 76).
But the democratic process can fulfil its role only if it achieves a certain level of output legitimacy: appropriate levels of solidarity are sustainable only if basic standards of social justice are satisfied (Habermas 2001a, 76). If it is to remain a source of solidarity, citizenship has to be seen as a valuable status, associated not only with civil and political rights, but also with the fulfilment of fundamental social and cultural rights (Habermas 1998, 118–119).
For most liberal nationalists, this seems like putting the cart before the horse since a successful welfare state, they argue, is possible only if citizens already enjoy high levels of mutual trust and loyalty. Welfare policies suppose that we make sacrifices for anonymous others who differ from us in terms of their ethnic origin, religion and way of life. But in democracies, redistributive policies can be sustained only if they enjoy strong levels of public support. This support is dependent on a sense of common identity that transcends difference and motivates citizens to share their revenues with people whom they do not know, but to whom they feel related by common bonds. This sentiment implies reciprocity: the expectation that, in times of need, one could also benefit from the solidarity of fellow citizens (Miller, 1995; Canovan, 1996).
Liberal nationalists and other critics of the postnationalist position go on to argue that freeing the liberal democratic state from its historical moorings is neither possible, nor necessary. They recognize that the link between liberal democracy and the nation is historically contingent rather than necessary or conceptual while adding that this does not mean that they can or should be dissociated (Miller 1995, 29–30; Kymlicka 2003). Calling for the separation of a country's political culture from the majority group's culture is easier said than done. While it may be comparably easy to discard the most egregious forms of fusion, if there is the political will to do so (for instance, by de-establishing the Anglican church in the case of England), any political culture will be ethically patterned in ways that are difficult for members of the majority to appreciate. Expressions such as “cutting the umbilical cord” or “dissolving” the fusion overstate the extent to which a political culture may be disengaged from the background culture. This is not necessarily cause for alarm, it is argued, since the nation need not be construed in ways that exclude minorities. Nationhood can be understood in sufficiently ‘thin’ terms to accommodate minorities while being ‘thick’ enough to generate appropriate sentiments of solidarity, loyalty, and trust.
There are different versions of this thin understanding of nationhood. What they all share is the downplaying of substantive commonalities of descent, culture and religion to the benefit of political and legal principles and institutions. Still there are variations: David Miller defends a conception of public culture that goes beyond the political to cover social norms (such as honesty in filling tax returns) and may include certain cultural ideals (for instance, “religious beliefs or a commitment to preserve the purity of the national language” (Miller 1995, 26)) while Kymlicka argues that an appropriately thin conception of nationhood also discards assumptions that “members of the nation should share the same […] life-style” (Kymlicka 2003, 273).
These differences notwithstanding, both conceptions are affirmed as inclusive since they describe national identity as flexible and open to change. Once immigrants are citizens, they can participate in the collective conversation by which citizens debate and constantly reinterpret the nation's identity. What immigrants are required to display is a “willingness to accept current political structures and to engage with the host community so that a new common identity can be forged” (Miller 1995, 129). They are expected “to speak a common national language”, “feel loyalty to national institutions” and “share a commitment to maintaining the nation as a single, self-governing community into the indefinite future” (Kymlicka 2003, 273).
Given the thin version of national identity they propose, one might conclude that liberal nationalists are not that far from the constitutional patriotism of Jürgen Habermas. After all, both positions seem to give the central role to a common political culture. The distance separating them becomes clear when we look at the political implications of their respective views, like when evaluating the prospects of the European Union. Liberal nationalists are often sceptical towards the European experiment while postnationalists are firm supporters. This difference flows from their respective conceptions of what makes and sustains a political culture as a source of integration. For liberal nationalists, continuity is essential: a political culture derives much of its strength from an anchoring in the history and narrative of a distinct political community extending backwards and forwards in time. They are sceptical of political voluntarism and, more specifically, towards what can be achieved through formal political institutions. Democratic procedures alone, divorced from a richer background, can neither generate nor sustain a robust political culture or a sense of common identity.
In contrast, postnationalists like Habermas consider that the democratic process is crucial. The postnationalist conception gives greater weight to political practice and to the legal and political institutions that sustain it rather than their cultural and historical moorings. This explains Habermas's militant support of the European project and, more specifically, his belief that adopting a constitution could have a “catalytic effect” on the process of constructing a ‘more perfect Union’ (Habermas 2001b, 16).
3. The challenge of globalisation
For the better part of the last century, conceptions of citizenship, despite many differences, have had one thing in common: the idea that the necessary framework for citizenship is the sovereign, territorial state. The legal status of citizen appears as the formal expression of membership in a polity that has definite territorial boundaries within which citizens enjoy rights and exercise their political agency. In other words, citizenship, both as a legal status and as an activity, is thought to presuppose the existence of a territorially bounded political community, which extends over time and is the focus of a common identity. In the last fifteen years, this premise has come under close scrutiny. A host of phenomena, loosely associated under the heading ‘globalisation’, have encouraged this critical awakening: exploding transnational economic exchange, competition and communication as well as high levels of migration, of cultural and social interactions have shown how porous those borders have become and led people to contest the relevance of state sovereignty.
Two questions are particularly salient. First, the intensification of migratory movements from poorer to richer countries in the context of growing inequalities between North and South has led some authors to contest the state's moral right to choose its members by selectively closing its borders. But if we question the right of the state as a political community to “preserve its integrity” by distributing membership as it sees fit, are we not weakening the very institutional framework that makes citizenship a meaningful practice? This question raises a second set of issues as it assumes that the democratic nation-state is the only institutional context in which citizenship can thrive. This is contested by those who claim that citizenship can be exercised in a multiplicity of ‘sites' both below and above the nation-state.
3.1 Citizenship and borders
Does the political community have the moral right to decide who can/cannot become a citizen or mustn't we recognize the right to free movement? Much of the philosophical debate has turned around two issues: first, on the nature of our obligations towards people from impoverished countries who seek better lives for themselves and their families; second, on the moral status of political communities and their supposed right to protect their integrity by excluding non members.
One way of characterizing our obligation to strangers insists that, absent any relations of cooperation, common humanity is our only bond. It is argued that only a rather weak, imperfect or conditional duty of assistance can be inferred from such a premise. This duty limits the basic right of the political community to distribute membership as it wishes without, in any way, displacing it. Individuals have a duty to assist strangers in urgent need if they can provide assistance without exposing themselves to significant risk or cost. At a collective level, the implications are more considerable as political communities have greater resources and can consider a broader range of benevolent actions at comparably negligible cost. The principle of mutual aid may justify redistribution of membership, territory, wealth and resources to the extent that certain states have more than they can reasonably be said to need (Walzer 1983, 47). In this framework, redistributive policies remain, however, entirely dependent on wealthier countries' understanding of their needs and of the urgency of a stranger's situation. There is no obligation to give equal weight to the interests of non-members.
Institutionally, this position supports what the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees (United Nations 1951) calls the principle of “non refoulement”: signatory states are not to deport refugees and asylum seekers to their countries of origin if this threatens their lives and freedom. It can also support claims in favour of increasing the number of immigrants admitted into richer countries, depending on how the latter evaluate the potential effects on their own interests.
Critics contend that our obligations towards migrants and asylum-seekers go well beyond this and call for a policy of open borders. Two strategies are proposed: the first consists in arguing that freedom of movement is a fundamental human right. One way of doing this is to show that any theory recognizing the equal moral value of individuals and giving them moral primacy over communities cannot justify rejecting aliens' claims to admission and citizenship. As Joseph Carens demonstrated in an early article, this argument applies to the three main strands of contemporary liberal theory: libertarianism (a la Nozick), Rawlsianism and utilitarianism (Carens 1987). If we give the principle of moral equality its full extension, the distinction between citizen and alien is morally arbitrary, justified neither by nature nor achievement. When evaluating border and immigration policies, the equal consideration of the interests of all affected (be they aliens or citizens) is required. Political communities cannot decide whether they can afford to accept refugee claimants or prospective immigrants simply according to their understanding of their own situation, needs and interests. Consideration of consequences (e.g. in terms of public order, the sustainability of welfare policies, the potential effects of a brain drain in developing countries, etc.) is not prohibited; what changes radically is how we are to evaluate them. Institutionally, this would doubtless lead to substantial changes in the immigration and refugee policies of most Western democracies.
The second strategy is indirect. To the extent that states do not satisfy their moral obligations to guarantee the universal human right to security and subsistence through international redistributive policies, they have a moral obligation to admit those wishing to enter. Here the idea of open borders is an instrumental, rather than intrinsic, moral principle: it is a means towards achieving global distributive justice (Bader 1997). The advantage of this line of argument is that it faithfully reflects the main motivation for open borders: the outrage provoked by the huge inequalities between North and South and rich countries' role in perpetuating this situation. This strategy, if successful, would establish specific rights for people from poorer countries towards the North, and not simply a broadly framed right to free movement, to be ‘equally’ enjoyed by individuals of rich and poor countries alike.
To be convincing the argument must show, first, that severe global poverty requires immediate action; second, that it is a matter of justice, not charity. To that effect, it is crucial to show that the extreme poverty of some countries is not simply the result of endogenous factors (e.g. bad governance; corrupt political culture, etc.), but is linked to a global political and economic order that systematically produces an unjust distribution of resources and political power, which rich northern countries, as its main beneficiaries, are in no hurry to reform. The third step in the argument purports to show that justifications of restrictive immigration policies premised on ethico-political claims lose much of their force in the context of profound international inequalities and injustice. The claim is that regulating immigration in order to preserve the integrity of the political community is a legitimate goal only if duties of international distributive justice are satisfied (Tan 2004, 126, referring to Tamir 1992, 161). The argument's upshot is that “[r]ich Northern states have a double moral obligation to seriously fight global poverty and to let more people in” (Bader 1997, 31).
Both supporters and critics of (more) open borders agree that liberal democratic political communities have a moral status and are worth preserving. They disagree over what exactly is worthy of protection and how much weight should be given to securing their integrity (however it is defined) relative to our duties of international justice.
The division of the world into states is arguably justifiable on functional grounds, to the extent that states appear as “first approximations of optimal units for allocating and producing the world's resources” (Coleman and Harding 1995, 38). If we think that states matter simply as local units of efficient production and distribution, then this would be the main consideration when evaluating immigration policies. Public order arguments would still matter, likewise claims pertaining to a society's economic capacity to secure its material reproduction, but not arguments relating to its cultural integrity or way of life. Unless, of course, the capacity of states to act as efficient units of production and distribution is linked to their being distinctive political communities with a particular culture of shared meanings worth preserving.
Over twenty years ago, Michael Walzer defended such a view, based on the idea that “distributive justice presupposes a bounded world within which distribution takes place” (Walzer 1983, 31). Since the goods to be divided, exchanged and shared among individuals have social meanings that are specific to particular communities, it is only within their boundaries that conflict can be resolved and distributive schemes judged either just or unjust. The crucial assumption here is that the “political community is probably the closest we can come to a world of common meanings. Language, history, and culture come together […] to produce a collective consciousness”(Walzer 1983, 28). Politics itself, moreover, as a set of practices and institutions that shape the form and outcome that distributive conflicts take, “establishes its own bonds of commonality”(Walzer 1983, 29). To reject political communities' right to distribute the good of membership is to undermine their capacity to preserve their integrity. It is to condemn them to become nothing more then neighbourhoods, random associations lacking any legally enforceable admissions policies. The probable result of the free movement of individuals would be “casual aggregates” devoid of any internal cohesion and incapable of being a source of patriotic sentiments and solidarity. In a world of neighbourhoods, membership would become meaningless. The upshot of this is that we should recognize the political community's right to regulate admission with a view to securing its cultural, economic and political integrity.
Walzer's position, notably his choice of analogies, has been extensively discussed. His assumption that sovereign states constitute communities of shared meanings appears particularly shaky. Most often, existing states incorporate various political communities that are themselves internally pluralistic: linguistically, culturally and ideologically. In such cases, one would be hard pressed to identify the community whose integrity is at stake. Indeed, few states correspond to the picture Walzer envisages as the appropriate context for distributive justice.
This is not to say that political communities are merely functional units. As Habermas argues, if the communitarian position appears irrelevant in the face of the complexity and internal diversity of modern societies, it reminds us that modern states are a “political form of life” that cannot be “translated without remainder into the abstract form of institutions designed according to general legal principles”. As forms of life, they include “the politicocultural context in which universalistic principles must be implemented, for only a population accustomed to freedom can keep the institutions of freedom alive” (Habermas 1996, 513). Here, Habermas refers yet again to his distinction between the political culture, which develops around universalistic constitutional principles, and the wider, background culture. It is the integrity of the former, not the latter that must be preserved: immigrants should be expected to integrate into the political culture of their new country, which means more than simply embracing abstract liberal-democratic principles. They must “willingly engage” with the particular form that these principles take in a given society, with a specific history. Given that they come from different cultures, newcomers will bring distinct perspectives to the interpretation of the political constitution and may well affect its future development. But to the extent that their contribution can be understood as part of the democratic conversation, rather than as a conversation stopper, one cannot justify stricter limits to immigration on such grounds. What presumably can be argued is that the capacity of the polity to integrate newcomers in the political culture should be considered when setting admissions policies.
Liberal nationalists like Will Kymlicka make a similar argument: they claim that liberal egalitarian aims such as equality of opportunity and solidarity stand a much better chance of being realized in the context of a strong national culture, defined as a “societal culture” involving a “common language and social institutions” (Kymlicka 2001, 259). Everything being equal, maintaining and strengthening such cultures serves a vital interest of individuals and liberal egalitarians should not strive for fully open borders. But does this mean that our interest in a strong national culture outweigh our duty to pursue international justice? From a liberal egalitarian perspective, the answer is clearly no. The right of political communities to protect their integrity stands only under conditions of rough international equality. Under such conditions, limits to immigration would not cause substantial harm, but “would only reserve for the nationals of a country what aliens already have in their own country — namely, the chance to be free and equal citizens within their own national community” (Kymlicka 2001, 271). Under the present situation of radical inequality, however, restrictive policies of immigration allow richer countries to “hoard an unfair share of resources” and cannot be squared with the principle of the moral equality of persons, which requires that “we care equally about the well-being of all individuals, wherever they are born, and however little we interact with them” (Kymlicka 2001, 271).
Kymlicka doesn't say how we should interpret his conclusion as pertains to present policies of immigration: must we demand that the borders of Western democracies be opened until they honour their duties of international justice? Should we rather underscore their dual moral obligations to fight global poverty and allow in more immigrants? (Bader 1997) Or, since global poverty and injustice are the problems, wouldn't it be better to address them directly and see them as our first moral priority (Pogge 1997)? As Kok-Chor Tan remarks, the argument should be understood as supporting “the primacy of international justice, rather than as a claim about how to prioritize public policies and goals”. This primacy implies “that national projects of well-off nations lose their legitimacy if these nations are not also doing their fair share as determined by their duties of justice” (Tan 2004, 129). Whether or not liberals should concentrate on reforming the international system as Thomas Pogge has urged or fight for both greater international distributive justice and more open borders as Veit Bader advises is a matter of strategy. The two prescriptions are by no means incompatible; insisting on the illegitimacy of restrictive immigration policies under current conditions may be a way to put rich countries on the spot and prod them to accept their moral responsibilities towards the world's poor (Goodin 1992, 8).
3.2 The promise of transnational citizenship: sceptics vs. voluntarists
As we have just seen, the nation-state's sovereignty often appears as an impediment to global justice. Its capacity to deal with economic, social and environmental problems that increasingly cut across borders is also in doubt. Under such circumstances, should the sovereign, territorial state still be seen as the necessary institutional context for justice and democracy? Should we not explore possibilities beyond its boundaries?
Such questioning has sparked two responses from theorists of citizenship. ‘Voluntarists’ insist on the need to rethink democracy and citizenship beyond the nation-state, proposing schemes to extend democratic politics to the regional and global levels. ‘Sceptics’, on the other hand, argue that democratic citizenship requires a bounded territorial space, in which citizens see themselves as part of a common demos. At the heart of this debate is the contested meaning of democratic political agency and its conditions, which must be clarified if the debate is to get anywhere.
Citizenship as legal status is what makes global citizenship conceivable, since there is no limit to the potential extension of rights, while the political dimension of citizenship presupposes a concept of political community that is richer but more limited (Cohen 1999, 249). The sceptics consider that citizenship at the global level entails a weakening of its political dimension, a waning of its democratic character. The voluntarists respond that transnational political citizenship is not an oxymoron if we rid ourselves of the blinkers inherited from the past. Both sceptics and voluntarists acknowledge that meaningful citizenship cannot simply be legal in nature. It's their assumptions about the political dimension of democratic citizenship and its background conditions that set them apart.
We will examine two versions of this disagreement. In the first, disagreement centres upon the basic conditions of democratic political agency rather than on its meaning. This is a crucial issue since how we define these conditions can limit the potential extension of the political community. In the second, the disagreement is over the meaning of democratic agency itself. To what extent should political agency be understood as a form of collective agency? Should we characterize political action as a common practice, which requires that citizens be in a relation of interaction and mutual awareness, or can we define it as primarily individual?
Supporters of global democracy reject the conventional identification between demos, territory and citizenship. In their view, citizenship is not a set of practices and rights that need to be anchored in a particular demos defined by specific territorial boundaries. On the contrary, citizenship is ideally exercised in a multiplicity of ‘sites', situated at different levels of governance: local, national, regional and global. Global democrats sketch a multilayered, global democratic order in which no single layer or site is dominant (Pogge 1992, 58, Young 2000, 266). This scheme implies a ‘vertical’ dispersal of power above and below existing sovereign states, which are stripped of their centrality. This would give less of an incentive for conflicts over power and wealth within and between states, “‘thereby reducing the incidence of war, poverty, and oppression’ and environmental degradation” (Kuper 2004, 30, quoting Pogge 1992, 102–105).
Voluntarists would balance this dilution of state power by strengthening certain global regulatory regimes in areas like peace and security, human rights, the environment, trade and finances, etc. These regimes would set down general rules “regarding that small but vital set of issues around which peace and justice call for global co-operation” (Young 2000, 267). A set of global institutions would be needed to ensure the application of these rules; though voluntarists are quick to point out the importance of democratic principles — consent, self-determination and autonomy — and their institutional implications (Pogge 1992, 64).
The formal political institutions and procedures envisaged are largely familiar: representative assemblies based on elections and referenda. Such institutions would exist at each level of the multilayered scheme: local, national, regional and global. Following the European Union model, continent-wide parliaments are envisaged, as well as a reformed general assembly of the United Nations. At the informal level, voluntarists insist on the need for globally active organizations of civil society, welcome the emergence of a transnational public opinion and call on global agencies such as the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund to commit themselves to basic principles of publicity.
Global democrats assume that the extension of democracy beyond the limits of the nation-state is neither conceptually nor practically impossible. Their response to claims that scale constitutes a major obstacle is twofold: first, they put the principle of subsidiarity at the front and centre of their institutional scheme (Held 2005, 14; Pogge 1992, 65–66); second, they insist that robust democratic politics is truly possible only at the local level. In existing, large nation-states, representative institutions are already far removed from ordinary citizens, who feel largely disempowered and disaffected (Young 2000, 270–271). Since the multilayered scheme they propose involves significant decentralization from the national to the sub-national level, the argument runs that global democracy would, in fact, translate into more, rather than less, ‘real’ democracy. It would serve to increase the ability of citizens to participate effectively in shaping the policies that concern them directly (Pogge 1992, 64; Young 2000, 269). But no matter how forcefully the principle of subsidiarity is applied, the global democratic project would still entail the implementation of global principles and standards (e.g. (re)distributive principles, human rights standards) that would rely on coercive enforcement agencies (Benhabib 2004, 113). Given this reality, the democratic legitimacy of political institutions above the level of the state is an issue that cannot be avoided.
Sceptics of global democracy have worked to identify basic background conditions to democratic institutions and procedures while showing that they cannot be satisfied beyond a certain threshold. Their argument is empirical, rather than conceptual. A common language is one plausible candidate put forward by Will Kymlicka. He insists that linguistic/territorial political associations are the primary forum for democratic participation, rather than higher-level political associations that cut across linguistic lines, because democratic politics is essentially “politics in the vernacular” (Kymlicka 1999, 121). Even in cases where average citizens are conversant in one or more foreign language, they rarely have the level of fluency necessary to participate in political debate in a language other than their own: only a select few have the ability and opportunity to acquire and sustain the necessary language skills. Political debate in multilingual settings is essentially an elitist pursuit.
In fact, political discussions require a higher degree of fluency than what is needed for business transactions or tourism: “political communication has a large ritualistic component, and these ritualized forms of communication are typically language-specific. Even if one understands a foreign language in the technical sense, without knowledge of these ritualistic elements one may be unable to understand political debates” (Kymlicka 1999, 121). If he is right, the hope that English's emergence as a new lingua franca in Europe and globally could overcome the linguistic obstacles that impede the development of transnational democratic politics are overstated (Van Parijs 2005). English's growing use may be enough to increase mutual understanding between individuals, but it is unlikely that it could become a transnational vernacular allowing democratic politics to transcend national boundaries.
Most voluntarists and sceptics rely on the same implicit view of democratic political agency: citizens are political agents through their participation in institutions and procedures that require significant interaction and mutual awareness. In this sense, democratic political agency appears collective rather than individual. Yet this leaves the door open to the sceptics' objections. If we believe that formal and informal democratic institutions like Parliaments and the public sphere require relatively high levels of horizontal communication between citizens, the existence of a common language appears a necessary condition to democratic agency. This, in turn, sets limits to the potential extension of the political community. Schemes that call for the “institutionalization of national and transnational forms of public debate, democratic participation, and accountability” (Held 2005, 18) for democracy's global extension appear misguided.
It might be argued, however, that the development of transnational advocacy networks shows that the sceptics' criticisms are overstated. These networks are proof that it is possible for individuals to exercise political agency in forums other than those provided by democratic states and that the absence of a common vernacular does not impede participation. Global democracy becomes thinkable once we focus on the development of transnational civil society rather than on the transposing of representative institutions at the global level. In response, it should be noted that such networks coalesce around a common ideology or conception of the good (e.g. the environment; rights of indigenous peoples, critique of neo-liberal forms of globalisation, etc.), which serves as a functional equivalent to a common vernacular. More important, these networks are composed of voluntary associations organized around shared interests and cannot stand as a surrogate for the political community per se, which acts as the addressee of claims made by the organisations and groups of civil society.
Which political community or communities can act as the addressee of claims made by organisations of transnational civil society? If one answers national political communities and their formal institutions, one agrees with Kymlicka that: “the weak transnationalism of advocacy networks is predicated on, even parasitic on, the ongoing existence of bounded political communities” (Kymlicka 2003, 291). Surely, we cannot point to a constituted cosmopolitan political community, which as yet does not exist and, if the sceptics are to be believed, has very little chances of ever coming into existence. If this is right, then the organisations of an emerging transnational civil society can offer possibilities of political agency for certain committed individuals and groups, but they do not offer a solution to the problem posed by the extension of democratic citizenship to the global level.
There is another version of the global democratic project, however, that involves an individualist conception of democratic political agency. Here citizens can engage in significant political activities that do not require high levels of interaction and cooperation between them. This is a position developed recently by Andrew Kuper (2004). It involves, first, that we abandon the conception of democratic legitimacy implicit in deliberative, participatory and republican conceptions of democracy, which all attempt to maintain a broadly Rousseauian understanding of legitimacy: laws are legitimate only if citizens can see themselves, somehow, as their co-authors. In this tradition, democratic government entails the idea of civic self-government, predicated upon significant involvement of citizens in the deliberative and decision-making processes. Kuper suggests that we discard this vision of democratic legitimacy in favour of one focusing on the responsiveness of the political system as a whole. The central issue becomes whether this system is made to act “in the best interests of the public, in a manner responsive to them” (Kuper 2004, 75 quoting Pitkin 1967). Legitimacy does not require citizens playing a decisive role and actively participating in processes of opinion and will formation. It requires, simply, that they exercise “a degree of active control over rulers and politics” (Kuper 2004, 79).
Citizens' control over authorities does not necessarily demand high levels of interaction and mutual awareness, partly because significant control can be exercised ‘horizontally’, through an extensive system of checks and balances that does not involve citizens directly. More importantly, Kuper proposes the development of (cross-border) formal advocacy and accountability agencies, akin to public ombudsmen, access of information agencies or the public curator's office. These agencies would provide citizens “crucial, limited ranges of more independent and accessible information about political actors” while also acting on their behalf as “professional contesters”. They would constitute “a locus of mobilization that agglomerates and pursues [citizens'] concerns and yet does not require that citizens act together with high levels of mutual awareness” (Kuper 2004, 127, my italics). In other words, citizens would exercise significant control over authorities without the need for extensive communication or cooperation. The vertical, rather then horizontal, dimension of communication is of overarching importance: individual citizens must have access to relevant information about what various authorities are doing, there must exist institutional channels by which they can pressure authorities and let them know their views on proposed policies. Doing so does not require that they “act together with high levels of mutual awareness”; they can exercise these capacities individually, via specific agencies.
This scheme avoids some of the criticisms levelled against other versions of the global democratic project. If citizens can exercise political agency in the absence of significant interaction, acting individually through specialized agencies, then the argument that a common language is a necessary background condition to democratic political agency loses much of its force.
But should we uncritically accept this understanding of democratic political agency? Should we set aside the conviction that it is best understood as a form of collective agency, entailing significant interaction and mutual awareness between citizens? One could credibly argue that representative democracy does not require a collective understanding of political agency. Voting is arguably an individual political action that does not demand a level of interaction comparable to that required of the Athenian assembly or workers' Councils. Of course, voting is an action that has to be performed by a large number of individuals to be significant and a formal agency needs to coordinate those individual actions. They also need to be aggregated in order to produce meaningful results. But at the level of the individual citizen, voting can be interpreted as a purely individual, private act. Elections can be understood as a way of organizing political activity that does not require the conscious horizontal cooperation of individual citizens.
Yet this account of the representative system is also contestable. As Bernard Manin points out, the substantial degree of discretion required by representatives has its counterweight in the free expression of political opinion. The latter guarantees that without being obliged to follow the people's will, representatives also cannot ignore it. The crucial point here is that the publication and/or manifestation of opinion is decisive not merely because it keeps citizens and governments informed, but also because it ensures horizontal communication amongst the governed. Indeed, Manin claims that meaningful political agency in a representative democracy requires that citizens be capable of learning what their co-citizens think about important policy issues or events independent of the authorities. Horizontal communication between citizens appears as a necessary condition to their being capable of political action (Manin 1997, 170–171).
One might answer that since the point of horizontal communication in representative government is to increase the citizens' capacity to act, allowing them to control and influence governments, then the criticism is off the mark if innovative institutions can offer citizens alternative but equally effective means of doing exactly this. In other words, if we insist on horizontal communication as a means to achieve certain ends and we discover that these ends can be reached through other institutional means, the problem ends there. Unless, of course, we hold the view, as Aristotle or Hannah Arendt (and even Benjamin Constant) did, that a high level of interaction between citizens is an intrinsic, not simply an instrumental, good.
But this position need not be defended here. Rather, one can question whether the accountability and advocacy agencies defended by Kuper are an acceptable functional equivalent to higher levels of communication between citizens. As Manin insists, the ability of citizens to gain information about each other's views independently from government is crucial. In the end, the thing that makes citizens political agents is their capacity to act independently of authorities and this ability, in turn, depends on whether they regularly act and communicate together, even if this interaction is often mediated through institutions like the electronic media. As Tocqueville famously argued, to prevent the kind of passivity that made the Terror possible, interaction between citizens must be habitual and not just potential or occasional. Institutions here play a central role: the administrative institutions of the Monarchy were guilty of having robbed the French of the possibility and desire to act together (Tocqueville 1998, 243). Free institutions simultaneously rely on and must strengthen citizens' autonomous interactions. If this poses enormous challenges in pluralistic and complex mass societies, we should also be wary of weakening this ideal.
Our survey of contemporary discussions has highlighted important differences over each of the three dimensions of citizenship. As a legal status, citizenship remains the keystone of contemporary conceptions: its normative core is the principle that citizens shall enjoy equal rights, although most would now agree that, in certain circumstances, equal consideration of individuals' interests may justifiably result in differential treatment from the state. This broad agreement on principle leaves ample room for disagreement over the particulars, as witnessed by the recurring debates over affirmative action and minority rights. But such discussions have become a hallmark of contemporary liberal societies, and our legal and political discourses are well equipped to handle them. The deeper worry, which new forms of political violence have made more acute, centres upon achieving a proper balance between the recognition of difference and the affirmation of common principles to which all citizens are required to adhere.
How robust an identity can citizenship provide in complex and internally diverse societies? There is a tension here that is difficult to resolve: our awareness of the pluralist nature of contemporary societies leads us to underscore the importance of general legal and political principles (democracy, human rights, rule of law) rather than the traditional emblems of nationality: common history and culture. Postnationalists, in particular, emphasize the role of democratic political practice in securing social integration. Yet, the complexity and scale of contemporary liberal societies tend to make this practice less significant in the lives of most citizens, a fact reflected in declining levels of participation in formal political institutions. Are we not expecting too much from democratic political practice under current circumstances?
This question brings us face to face with the difficult issue of citizens' political agency, which has long been central to debates between liberals and republicans. Whether we understand democracy in terms of civic self-government (republican version) or as the ability to exercise control over government (liberal version), it is not easy to determine how, and through what institutional mechanisms, ordinary citizens can exercise meaningful political agency in complex societies. This difficulty is epitomized in the debate over transnational citizenship. Although global citizenship is conceivable first and foremost as a legal status securing a number of fundamental human rights, most authors agree that it should not be strictly legal in nature and must have a significant political dimension. One senses, however, a distinct malaise when it comes to identifying appropriate normative standards and locating the institutions through which these could be approximated.
In the end, our dismissal of the encyclopédiste's interest in distinguishing subject and citizen may have been too hasty. If being a citizen in a liberal-democratic political community is to mean something more than the status of legal subject, we must be ready to state what this “more” entails. This stubborn blind-spot of theories of citizenship leads us to some of the most difficult issues pertaining to the very possibility of democracy in the contemporary world.
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Other Internet Resources
• Citizenship Studies: A journal published by Carfax Publishing, and edited by Bryan S. Turner.
• Citizenship, Democracy and Ethnocultural Diversity Newsletter: A quarterly electronic newsletter updating recent developments in the field. Edited and distributed by Will Kymlicka.
First published Sat Feb 23, 2002; substantive revision Tue Nov 28, 2006
The word ‘cosmopolitan’, which derives from the Greek word kosmopolitês (‘citizen of the world’), has been used to describe a wide variety of important views in moral and socio-political philosophy. The nebulous core shared by all cosmopolitan views is the idea that all human beings, regardless of their political affiliation, do (or at least can) belong to a single community, and that this community should be cultivated. Different versions of cosmopolitanism envision this community in different ways, some focusing on political institutions, others on moral norms or relationships, and still others focusing on shared markets or forms of cultural expression. The philosophical interest in cosmopolitanism lies in its challenge to commonly recognized attachments to fellow-citizens, the local state, parochially shared cultures, and the like.
• 1. History of Cosmopolitanisms
• 2. Taxonomy of Contemporary Cosmopolitanisms
• 3. Objections to Cosmopolitanism
• Other Internet Resources
• Related Entries
1. History of Cosmopolitanisms
1.1 Greek and Roman Cosmopolitanism
The political culture idealized in the writings of Plato and Aristotle is not cosmopolitan. In this culture, a man identifies himself first and foremost as a citizen of a particular polis or city, and in doing so, he signals which institutions and which body of people hold his allegiance. He would then be counted on for help in defending the city from attacks, sustaining its institutions of justice, and contributing to its common good. In this way, his own pursuit of a good life is inextricably bound to the fate of the city and to the similar pursuit carried out by other inhabitants of the city. By contrast, the good person would not be expected to share with or serve any foreigners who live outside the city. Any cosmopolitan expectations on a good Athenian extended only to concern for those foreigners who happen to reside in Athens.
It would, however, be wrong to assume that Classical Greek thought was uniformly anti-cosmopolitan. Actively excluding foreigners from any ethical consideration or actively targeting foreigners for mistreatment goes one step beyond focusing one's service and concern on compatriots, and in fact, the targeting of ‘barbarians’ is historically linked with the rise of panhellenism and not with the more narrow emphasis on the polis. It would be more accurate to call the Classical emphasis on the polis uncosmopolitan.
Yet even as Plato and Aristotle were writing, other Greeks were issuing cosmopolitan challenges. Perhaps the most obvious challenges came from the traveling intellectuals who insisted on the contrast between the conventional ties of politics and the natural ties of humanity. Notice, for example, the way Plato has the Sophist Hippias address the motley crew of Athenians and foreigners present at Callias' house in Plato's Protagoras (337c7-d3):
Gentlemen present … I regard you all as kinsmen, familiars, and fellow-citizens — by nature and not by convention; for like is by nature akin to like, while convention, which is a tyrant over human beings, forces many things contrary to nature.
Socrates, too, it can be argued, was sensitive to this more cosmopolitan identification with human beings as such. At least as Plato characterizes him, Socrates avoids traditional political engagement as much as he can, in favor of an extraordinary career of examining himself and others, and he insists that these examinations are both genuinely political (Gorg 521d6-8) and extended to all, Athenians and foreigners alike (Apol 23b4-6). Of course, Socrates chose not to travel widely, but this decision could well have been consistent with cosmopolitan ideals, for he may have thought that his best bet for serving human beings generally lay in staying at home, on account, ironically, of Athens' superior freedom of speech (Gorg 461e1-3; cf. Apol 37c5-e2 and Meno 80b4-7). Whether Socrates was self-consciously cosmopolitan in this way or not, there is no doubt that his ideas accelerated the development of cosmopolitanism and that he was in later antiquity embraced as a citizen of the world. In fact, the first philosopher in the West to give perfectly explicit expression to cosmopolitanism was the Socratically inspired Cynic Diogenes in the fourth century bce. It is said that “when he was asked where he came from, he replied, ‘I am a citizen of the world [kosmopolitês]’” (Diogenes Laertius VI 63). By identifying himself not as a citizen of Sinope but as a citizen of the world, Diogenes apparently refused to agree that he owed special service to Sinope and the Sinopeans. So understood, ‘I am a citizen of the cosmos’ is a negative claim, and we might wonder if there is any positive content to the Cynic's world-citizenship. The most natural suggestion would be that a world-citizen should serve the world-state, helping to bring it about in order to enable the later work of sustaining its institutions and contributing to its common good. But the historical record does not suggest that Diogenes the Cynic favored the introduction of a world-state. In fact, the historical record does not unambiguously provide Diogenes any positive commitments that we can readily understand as cosmopolitan. The best we can do to find positive cosmopolitanism in Diogenes is to insist that the whole Cynic way of life is supposed to be cosmopolitan: by living in accordance with nature and rejecting what is conventional, the Cynic sets an example of high-minded virtue for all other human beings.
A fuller exploration of positively committed philosophical cosmopolitanism arrives only with the Socratizing and Cynic-influenced Stoics of the third century CE. These Stoics are fond of saying that the cosmos is, as it were, a polis, because the cosmos is put in perfect order by law, which is right reason. They also embrace the negative implication of their high standards: conventional poleis do not, strictly speaking, deserve the name. But the Stoics do not believe that living in agreement with the cosmos — as a citizen of the cosmos — requires maintaining critical distance from conventional poleis. Rather, as the traces of Chrysippus' On Lives make clear, the Stoics believe that goodness requires serving other human beings as best one can, that serving all human beings equally well is impossible, and that the best service one can give typically requires political engagement. Of course, the Stoics recognize that political engagement will not be possible for everyone, and that some people will best be able to help other human beings as private teachers of virtue rather than as politicians. But in no case, the Stoics insist, is consideration of political engagement to be limited to one's own polis. The motivating idea is, after all, to help human beings as such, and sometimes the best way to do that is to serve as a teacher or as a political advisor in some foreign place. In this fashion, the Stoics introduce clear, practical content to their metaphor of the cosmopolis: a cosmopolitan considers moving away in order to serve, whereas a non-cosmopolitan does not.
This content admits of a strict and a more moderate interpretation. On the strict view, when one considers whether to emigrate, one recognizes prima facie no special or stronger reason to serve compatriots than to serve a set of human beings abroad. On the moderate view, one does introduce into one's deliberations extra reason to serve compatriots, although one might still, all things considered, make the best choice by emigrating. The evidence does not permit a decisive attribution of one or the other of these interpretations to any of the earliest Stoics. But if we think that Chrysippus was deeply attracted to the Cynics' rejection of what is merely conventional, then we will find it easy to think of him as a strict cosmopolitan.
Things are a bit different for at least some of the Stoics at Rome. On the one hand, the cosmopolis becomes less demanding. Whereas Chrysippus limits citizenship in the cosmos to those who in fact live in agreement with the cosmos and its law, Roman Stoics extend citizenship to all human beings by virtue of their rationality. On the other hand, local citizenship becomes more demanding. There is no doubt that the Stoicism of Cicero's De Officiis or of Seneca's varied corpus explicitly acknowledges obligations to Rome. This is a moderate Stoic cosmopolitanism, and empire made the doctrine very easy for many Romans by identifying the Roman patria with the cosmopolis itself. But neither imperialism nor a literal interpretation of world-citizenship is required for the philosophical point. The maximally committed cosmopolitan looks around to determine whom he can best help and how, knowing full well that he cannot help all people in just the same way, and his decision to help some people far more than others is justified by cosmopolitan lights if it is the best he can do to help human beings as such.
Stoic cosmopolitanism in its various guises was enormously persuasive throughout the Greco-Roman world. In part, this success can be explained by noting how cosmopolitan the world at that time was. Alexander the Great's conquests and the subsequent division of his empire into successor kingdoms sapped local cities of much of their traditional authority and fostered increased contacts between cities, and later, the rise of the Roman Empire united the whole of the Mediterranean under one political power. But it is wrong to say what has frequently been said, that cosmopolitanism arose as a response to the fall of the polis or to the rise of the Roman empire. First, the polis' fall has been greatly exaggerated. Under the successor kingdoms and even — though to a lesser degree — under Rome, there remained substantial room for important political engagement locally. Second, and more decisively, the cosmopolitanism that was so persuasive during the so-called Hellenistic Age and under the Roman Empire was in fact rooted in intellectual developments that predate Alexander's conquests. Still, there is no doubting that the empires under which Stoicism developed and flourished made many people more receptive to the cosmopolitan ideal and thus contributed greatly to the widespread influence of Stoic cosmopolitanism.
Nowhere was Stoic cosmopolitanism itself more influential than in early Christianity. Early Christians took the later Stoic recognition of two cities as independent sources of obligation and added a twist. For the Stoics, the citizens of the polis and the citizens of the cosmopolis do the same work: both aim to improve the lives of the citizens. The Christians respond to a different call: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's” (Matthew 22:21). On this view, the local city may have divine authority (John 19:11; cf. Romans 13:1,4,7), but the most important work for human goodness is removed from traditional politics, set aside in a sphere in which people of all nations can become “fellow-citizens with the saints” (Ephesians 2:20).
This development has two important and long-lasting consequences, which are canonized by Augustine. First, the cosmopolis again becomes a community for certain people only. Augustine makes this point most explicitly by limiting the citizenship in the city of God to those who love God. All others are relegated to the inferior — though still universal — earthly city by their love of self. These two cities of the world, which are doomed to coexist intertwined until the Final Judgment, divide the world's inhabitants. Second, the work of politics is severed from the task of building good human lives, lives of righteousness and justice. While Augustine can stress that this allows citizens in the city of God to obey local laws concerning “the necessaries for the maintenance of life,” he must also acknowledge that it sets up a potential conflict over the laws of religion and the concerns of righteousness and justice (e.g., Civitas Dei XIX 17).
For hundreds of years to come, debates in political philosophy would surround the relation between ‘temporal’ political authority and the ‘eternal Church.’ But emphasis on the cosmopolitan aspect of the Church waned, despite its ideal of a religious community comprising all humans. In a nutshell, the debate now opposed the secular and the religious, and not the local and the cosmopolitan. To be sure, this debate often had cosmopolitan ramifications, which are clear enough in Dante Alighieri's plea for a universal monarchy in De Monarchia (ca. 1314). But his case draws from Aristotle and Roman history, not explicitly from the ideal of a cosmopolis or of world-citizenship, and he remains deeply concerned to adjudicate between the pope and the Holy Roman Emperor.
1.2 Early Modern and Enlightenment Cosmopolitanism
Cosmopolitanism slowly began to come to the fore again with the renewed study of more ancient texts, but during the humanist era cosmopolitanism still remained the exception. Despite the fact that ancient cosmopolitan sources were well-known and that many humanists emphasized the essential unity of all religions, they did not develop this idea in cosmopolitan terms. A few authors, however, most notably Erasmus of Rotterdam, explicitly drew on ancient cosmopolitanism to advocate the ideal of a world-wide peace. Emphasizing the unity of humankind over its division into different states and peoples, by arguing that humans are destined by Nature to be sociable and live in harmony, Erasmus pleaded for national and religious tolerance and regarded like-minded people as his compatriots (Querela Pacis).
Early modern natural law theory might seem a likely candidate for spawning philosophical cosmopolitanism. Its secularizing tendencies and the widespread individualist view among its defenders that all humans share certain fundamental characteristics would seem to suggest a point of unification for humankind as a whole. However, according to many early modern theorists, what all individuals share is a fundamental striving for self-preservation, and the universality of this striving does not amount to a fundamental bond that unites (or should unite) all humans in a universal community.
Still, there are two factors that do sometimes push modern natural law theory in a cosmopolitan direction. First, some natural law theorists assume that nature implanted in humans, in addition to the tendency to self-preservation, also a fellow-feeling, a form of sociability that unites all humans at a fundamental level into a kind of world community. The appeal to such a shared human bond was very thin, however, and by no means does it necessarily lead to cosmopolitanism. In fact, the very notion of a natural sociability was sometimes used instead to legitimate war against peoples elsewhere in the world who were said to have violated this common bond in an ‘unnatural’ way, or who were easily said to have placed themselves outside of the domain of common human morality by their ‘barbaric’ customs. Second, early modern natural law theory was often connected with social contract theory, and although most social contract theorists worked out their views mostly, if not solely, for the level of the state and not for that of international relations, the very idea behind social contract theory lends itself for application to this second level. Grotius, Pufendorf, and others did draw out these implications and thereby laid the foundation for international law. Grotius envisioned a “great society of states” that is bound by a “law of nations” that holds “between all states” (De Iure Belli ac Paci, 1625, Prolegomena par. 17; Pufendorf, De Iure Naturae et Gentium, 1672).
The historical context of the philosophical resurgence of cosmopolitanism during the Enlightenment is made up of many factors: The increasing rise of capitalism and world-wide trade and its theoretical reflections; the reality of ever expanding empires whose reach extended across the globe; the voyages around the world and the anthropological so-called ‘discoveries’ facilitated through these; the renewed interest in Hellenistic philosophy; and the emergence of a notion of human rights and a philosophical focus on human reason. Many intellectuals of the time regarded their membership in the transnational ‘republic of letters’ as more significant than their membership in the particular political states they found themselves in, all the more so because their relationship with their government was often strained because of censorship issues. This prepared them to think in terms other than those of states and peoples and adopt a cosmopolitan perspective. Under the influence of the American Revolution, and especially during the first years of the French Revolution, cosmopolitanism received its strongest impulse. The 1789 declaration of ‘human’ rights had grown out of cosmopolitan modes of thinking and reinforced them in turn.
In the eighteenth century, the terms ‘cosmopolitanism’ and ‘world citizenship’ were often used not as labels for determinate philosophical theories, but rather to indicate an attitude of open-mindedness and impartiality. A cosmopolitan was someone who was not subservient to a particular religious or political authority, someone who was not biased by particular loyalties or cultural prejudice. Furthermore, the term was sometimes used to indicate a person who led an urbane life-style, or who was fond of traveling, cherished a network of international contacts, or felt at home everywhere. In this sense the Encyclopédie mentioned that ‘cosmopolitan’ was often used to signify a “man of no fixed abode, or a man who is nowhere a stranger.” Though philosophical authors such as Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Addison, Hume, and Jefferson identified themselves as cosmopolitans in one or more of these senses, these usages are not of much philosophical interest.
Especially in the second half of the century, however, the term was increasingly also used to indicate particular philosophical convictions. Some authors revived the Cynic tradition. Fougeret de Montbron in his 1753 autobiographical report, Le Cosmopolite, calls himself a cosmopolitan, describes how he travels everywhere without being committed to anywhere, declaring “All the countries are the same to me” and “[I am] changing my places of residence according to my whim” (p. 130).
Despite the fact that only a few authors committed themselves to this kind of cosmopolitanism, this was the version that critics of cosmopolitanism took as their target. For example, Rousseau complains that cosmopolitans “boast that they love everyone [tout le monde, which also means ‘the whole world’], to have the right to love no one” (Geneva Manuscript version of The Social Contract, 158). Johann Georg Schlosser, in the critical poem ‘Der Kosmopolit’ writes, “It is better to be proud of one's nation than to have none,” obviously assuming that cosmopolitanism implies the latter.
Yet most eighteenth-century defenders of cosmopolitanism did not recognize their own view in these critical descriptions. They understood cosmopolitanism not as a form of ultra-individualism, but rather, drawing on the Stoic tradition, as implying the positive moral ideal of a universal human community, and they did not regard this ideal as inimical to more particular attachments such as patriotism. Some, like the German author Christoph Martin Wieland, stayed quite close to Stoic views. Others developed a cosmopolitan moral theory that was distinctively new. According to Kant, all rational beings are members in a single moral community. They are analogous to citizens in the political (republican) sense in that they share the characteristics of freedom, equality, and independence, and that they give themselves the law. Their common laws, however, are the laws of morality, grounded in reason. Early utilitarian cosmopolitans like Jeremy Bentham, by contrast, defended their cosmopolitanism by pointing to the “common and equal utility of all nations.” Moral cosmopolitanism could be grounded in human reason, or in some other characteristic universally shared among humans (and in some cases other kinds of beings) such as the capacity to experience pleasure or pain, a moral sense, or the aesthetic imagination. Moral cosmopolitans regarded all humans as ‘brothers’ (though with obvious gender bias) — an analogy with which they aimed to indicate the fundamental equality of rank of all humans, which precluded slavery, colonial exploitation, feudal hierarchy, and tutelage of various sorts.
Some cosmopolitans developed their view into a political theory about international relations. The most radical of eighteenth-century political cosmopolitans was no doubt Anacharsis Cloots (Jean-Baptiste du Val-de-Grace, baron de Cloots, 1755-1794). Cloots advocated the abolition of all existing states and the establishment of a single world state under which all human individuals would be directly subsumed. His arguments drew first of all on the general structure of social contract theory. If it is in the general interest for everyone to submit to the authority of a state that enforces laws that provide security, then this argument applies world-wide and justifies the establishment of a world-wide “republic of united individuals,” not a plurality of states that find themselves in the state of nature vis-à-vis each other. Second, he argues that sovereignty should reside with the people, and that the concept of sovereignty itself, because it involves indivisibility, implies that there can be but one sovereign body in the world, namely, the human race as a whole (La république universelle ou adresse aux tyrannicides, 1792; Bases constitutionelles de la république du genre humain, 1793).
Most other political cosmopolitans did not go as far as Cloots. Immanuel Kant, most famously, advocated a much weaker form of international legal order, namely, that of a ‘league of nations.’ In Perpetual Peace (1795) Kant argues that true and world-wide peace is possible only when states are organized internally according to ‘republican’ principles, when they are organized externally in a voluntary league for the sake of keeping peace, and when they respect the human rights not only of their citizens but also of foreigners. He argues that the league of states should not have coercive military powers because that would violate the internal sovereignty of states, constitute a potential danger to individual freedoms already established within those states (if the federal authority were less respectful of human rights than some of the member states) and reduce the chances that states would actually join.
Some critics argued in response that Kant's position was inconsistent, on the grounds that the only way to fully overcome the state of nature among states was for them to enter into a federative unity of states with coercive powers. They transformed the concept of sovereignty in the process, by conceiving it as layered, and this enabled them to argue that states ought to transfer part of their sovereignty to the federal level, but only that part that concerns their external relations to other states, while retaining the sovereignty of the states concerning their internal affairs (the early Fichte). Romantic authors, on the other hand, felt that the ideal state should not have to involve coercion at all, and hence also that the cosmopolitan ideal should be that of a world-wide republic of ‘fraternal’ non-authoritarian republics (the young Friedrich Schlegel).
Kant also introduced the concept of "cosmopolitan law," suggesting a third sphere of public law — in addition to constitutional law and international law — in which both states and individuals have rights, and where individuals have these rights as "citizens of the earth" rather than as citizens of particular states.
In addition to moral and political forms of cosmopolitanism, there emerged an economic form of cosmopolitan theory. The freer trade advocated by eighteenth-century anti-mercantilists like Adam Smith and Dietrich Hermann Hegewisch took greater and greater hold. They sought to diminish the role of politics in the economic realm. Their ideal was a world in which tariffs and other restrictions on foreign trade are abolished, a world in which the market, not the government, takes care of the needs of the people. Against mercantilism, they argue that it is more advantageous for everyone involved if a nation imports those goods which are more expensive to produce domestically, and that the assumption that one's own state will profit if other states are unable to export their goods is false. They argue that the situation is quite the contrary: the abolition of protectionism would benefit everyone, because other states would gain from their exports, reach a higher standard of living and then become even better trading partners, because they could then import more, too. On their view, after trade will have been liberalized world-wide, the importance of national governments will diminish dramatically. As national governments currently focus on the national economy and defense, their future role will be at most auxiliary. In the ideal global market, war is in no one's interest. The freer the global market becomes, the more the role of the states will become negligible.
1.3 Cosmopolitanism in the 19th and 20th Centuries
Enlightenment cosmopolitanism has continued to be a source of debate in the subsequent two centuries. First, in the nineteenth century, economic globalization provoked fierce reactions. Marx and Engels tagged cosmopolitanism as an ideological reflection of capitalism. They regard market capitalism as inherently expansive, breaking the bounds of the nation-state system, as evidenced by the fact that production and consumption had become attuned to faraway lands. In their hands, the word ‘cosmopolitan’ is tied to the effects of capitalist globalization, including especially the bourgeois ideology which legitimatizes ‘free’ trade in terms of the freedom of individuals and mutual benefit, although this very capitalist order is the cause of the misery of millions, indeed the cause of the very existence of the proletariat. At the same time, however, Marx and Engels also hold that the proletariat in every country shares essential features and has common interests, and the Communist movement aims to convince proletarians everywhere of these common interests. Most famously, the Communist Manifesto ends with the call, “Proletarians of all countries, unite!” This, combined with the ideal of the class-less society and the expected withering away of the state after the revolution, implies a form of cosmopolitanism of its own.
Debates about global capitalism and about an international workers' movement have persisted. Frequently economic cosmopolitanism can be found in the advocacy of open markets, in the tradition from Adam Smith to Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman. Communist versions of cosmopolitanism also developed further, although the Leninist-Stalinist tradition kept using ‘cosmopolitan’ itself as a derogatory term.
The second inheritance from eighteenth century cosmopolitanism is found in the two centuries' worth of attempts to create peace. It has often been noted that there are parallels between Kant's peace proposal in Perpetual Peace and the structure of the League of Nations as it existed in the early part of the 20th century as well as the structure of the current United Nations, although it should also be pointed out that essential features of Kant's plan were not implemented, such as the abolition of standing armies. Now, after the end of the cold war, there is again a resurgence of the discussion about the most appropriate world order to promote peace, just as there was after the first and second world wars.
The International Criminal Court should be mentioned here as an innovative form of cosmopolitanism, going much beyond Kant's conception of ‘cosmopolitan law.’ The ICC itself represents an extension of the long trend, in international law, to do away with the principle of the absolute subjection of individuals to the state and develop the status of individuals under international law. Individuals are now the bearers of certain rights under international law, and they can be held responsible for crimes under international law in ways that cut through the shield of state sovereignty.
Third, moral philosophers and moralists in the wake of eighteenth-century cosmopolitanisms have insisted that we human beings have a duty to aid fellow humans in need, regardless of their citizenship status. There is a history of international relief efforts (International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, famine relief organizations, and the like) in the name of the reduction of human suffering and without regard to the nationality of those affected.
In addition, because cosmopolitan duty is not restricted to duties of beneficence but also requires justice and respect, cosmopolitan morality has often been invoked as a motivation to oppose slavery and apartheid, and to defend the emancipation of women, or, in the utilitarian tradition, to demand better treatment of animals.
Most past cosmopolitan authors did not fully live up to the literal interpretation of their cosmopolitan theories, and one can find misogynist, racist, nationalist, religious, or class-based biases and inconsistencies in their accounts. These shortcomings have often been used as arguments against cosmopolitanism, but they are not as easily used for that purpose as it may seem. Because the universalist potential in the discourse of ‘world citizenship’ can itself be used as a basis for exposing these shortcomings as problematic, one should say that they stem from too little, rather than too much, cosmopolitanism.
2. Taxonomy of Contemporary Cosmopolitanisms
Even this brief glance backwards reveals a wide variety of views that can be called cosmopolitan. Every cosmopolitan argues for some community among all human beings, regardless of social and political affiliation. For some, what should be shared is simply moral community, which means only that living a good human life requires serving the universal community by helping human beings as such, perhaps by promoting the realization of justice and the guarantee of human rights. Others conceptualize the universal community in terms of political institutions to be shared by all, in terms of cultural expressions to be appreciated by all, or in terms of economic markets that should be open to all.
The most common cosmopolitanism — moral cosmopolitanism — does not always call itself such. But just as ancient cosmopolitanism was fundamentally a ‘moral’ commitment to helping human beings as such, much contemporary moral philosophy insists on the duty to aid foreigners who are starving or otherwise suffering, or at least on the duty to respect and promote basic human rights and justice. One can here distinguish between strict and moderate forms of cosmopolitanism. The strict cosmopolitans in this sphere operate sometimes from utilitarian assumptions (e.g., Singer, Unger), sometimes from Kantian assumptions (e.g., O'Neill), and sometimes from more ancient assumptions (e.g., Nussbaum), but always with the claim that the duty to provide aid neither gets weighed against any extra duty to help locals or compatriots nor increases in strength when locals or compatriots are in question. Among these strict cosmopolitans some will say that it is permissible, at least in some situations, to concentrate one's charitable efforts on one's compatriots, while others deny this — their position will depend on the details of their moral theory. Other philosophers whom we may call moderate cosmopolitans (including, e.g., Scheffler) acknowledge the cosmopolitan scope of a duty to provide aid, but insist that we also have special duties to compatriots. Among the moderate cosmopolitans, many further distinctions can be drawn, depending on the reasons that are admitted for recognizing special responsibilities to compatriots and depending on how the special responsibilities are balanced with the cosmopolitan duties to human beings generally. Anti-cosmopolitanism in the moral sphere best describes the position of those communitarians (e.g., MacIntyre) who believe either that our obligations to compatriots and more local people crowd out any obligations to benefit human beings as such or that there are no obligations except where there are close, communal relationships.
Moral cosmopolitanism has sometimes led to political cosmopolitanism. Again, we can draw useful distinctions among the political cosmopolitans. Some advocate a centralized world state, some favor a federal system with a comprehensive global body of limited power, some would prefer more limited international political institutions that focus on particular concerns (e.g., war crimes, environmental preservation), and some defend a different alternative altogether. Prominent philosophical discussions of international political arrangements have recently clustered around the heirs of Kant (e.g., Habermas, Rawls, Beitz, and Pogge) and around advocates of ‘cosmopolitan democracy’ (e.g., Held) or ‘republican cosmopolitanism’. Again, there are anti-cosmopolitans, who are skeptical of all international political entanglements.
Perhaps the most common invocations of the label ‘cosmopolitan’ in recent philosophical literature have been in the disputes over cultural cosmopolitanism. Especially with disputes over multiculturalism in educational curricula and with resurgent nationalisms, cultural claims and counter-claims have received much attention. The cosmopolitan position in both of these kinds of disputes rejects exclusive attachments to parochial culture. So on the one hand, the cosmopolitan encourages cultural diversity and appreciates a multicultural mélange, and on the other hand, the cosmopolitan rejects a strong nationalism. In staking out these claims, the cosmopolitan must be wary about very strong ‘rights to culture,’ respecting the rights of minority cultures while rebuffing the right to unconditional national self-determination. Hence, recent advocates of ‘liberal nationalism’ (e.g., Margalit and Raz, Tamir) or of the rights of minority cultures (e.g., Kymlicka) generally seem to be anti-cosmopolitan. But the cosmopolitan's wariness towards very strong rights to culture and towards national self-determination need not be grounded in a wholesale skepticism about the importance of parochial cultural attachments. Cosmopolitanism can acknowledge the importance of (at least some kinds of) cultural attachments for the good human life (at least within certain limits), while denying that this implies that a person's cultural identity should be defined by any bounded or homogeneous subset of the cultural resources available in the world (e.g., Waldron).
Economic cosmopolitanism is perhaps less often defended among philosophers and more often among economists (e.g., Hayek, Friedman) and certain politicians, especially in the richer countries of this world. It is the view that one ought to cultivate a single global economic market with free trade and minimal political involvement. It tends to be criticized rather than advanced by philosophical cosmopolitans, as many of them regard it as at least a partial cause of the problem of vast international economic inequality. These debates about the desirability of a fully globalized market have intensified in recent years, as a result of the end of the Cold War and the increasing reach of the market economy.
3. Objections to Cosmopolitanism
One of the most common objections to cosmopolitanism attacks a position that is in fact made of straw. Often it is said that cosmopolitanism is meaningless without the context of a world-state or that cosmopolitanism necessarily involves the commitment to a world state. These claims are historically uninformed, because cosmopolitanism as a concept arose in the first instance as a metaphor for a way of life and not in literal guise. Ever since, there have been cosmopolitans who do not touch on the issue of international political organization, and of those who do, very few defend the ideal of a world-state. Furthermore, even those cosmopolitans who do favor a world-state tend to support something more sophisticated that cannot be dismissed out of hand: a thin conception of world government with layered sovereignty.
The more serious and philosophically interesting challenges to cosmopolitanism come in two main forms. The first calls into question the possibility of realizing the cosmopolitan ideal, while the second queries its desirability. We discuss these two challenges to the different forms of cosmopolitanism in turn.
3.1 Political cosmopolitanism
It is often argued that it is impossible to change the current system of states and to form a world-state or a global federation of states. This claim is hard to maintain, however, in the face of the existence of the United Nations, the existence of states with more than a billion people of heterogeneous backgrounds, and the experience with the United States and the European Union. So in order to be taken seriously, the objection must instead be that it is impossible to form a good state or federation of that magnitude, i.e., that it is impossible to realize or even approximate the cosmopolitan ideal in a way that makes it worth pursuing and that does not carry prohibitive risks. Here political cosmopolitans disagree among themselves. On one end of the spectrum we find those who argue in favor of a strong world-state, on the other end we find the defenders of a loose and voluntary federation, or a different system altogether.
The defenders of the loose, voluntary and noncoercive federation warn that a world-state easily becomes despotic without there being any competing power left to break the hold of despotism (Rawls). Defenders of the world-state reply that a stronger form of federation, or even merger, is the only way to truly exit the state of nature between states, or the only way to bring about international distributive justice. Other authors have argued that the focus among many political cosmopolitans on only these two alternatives overlooks a third, and that a concern for human rights should lead one to focus instead on institutional reform that disperses sovereignty vertically, rather than concentrating it in all-encompassing international institutions. On this view, peace, democracy, prosperity, and the environment would be better served by a system in which the political allegiance and loyalties of persons are widely dispersed over a number of political units of various sizes, without any one unit being dominant and thus occupying the traditional role of the state (Pogge).
Of the objections brought up by non- or anti-cosmopolitans, two deserve special mention. First, some authors argue that the (partial or whole) surrender of state sovereignty required by the cosmopolitan scheme is an undue violation of the principle of the autonomy of states or the principle of democratic self-determination of their citizens. Second, so-called ‘realists’ argue that states are in a Hobbesian state of nature as far as the relations among them are concerned, and that it is as inappropriate as it is futile to subject states to normative constraints. To these objections cosmopolitans have various kinds of response, ranging from developing their alternative normative theory (e.g., by arguing that global democracy increases rather than diminishes the democratic control of individual world citizens) to pointing out, as has been done at least since Grotius, that states have good reasons even on Hobbesian grounds to submit to certain forms of international legal arrangements.
3.2 Economic cosmopolitanism
Various arguments have been used to show that economic cosmopolitanism is not a viable option. Marx and later Marxists have argued that capitalism is self-destructive in the long run, because the exploitation, alienation, and poverty that it inflicts on the proletariat will provoke a world-wide revolution that will bring about the end of capitalism. In the twentieth century, when nationalist tendencies proved to be stronger (or in any case more easily mobilized) than international solidarity, and when the position of workers was strengthened to the point of making them unwilling to risk a revolution, this forced the left to reconsider this view.
Critics of the economic cosmopolitan ideal have also started to emphasize another way in which capitalism bears the seeds of its own destruction within itself, namely, insofar as it is said to lead to a global environmental disaster that might spell the end of the human species, or in any event the end of capitalism as we know it. The effects of excessive consumption (in some parts of the world) and the exploitation of nature would make the earth inhospitable to future human generations.
Even if one does not think that these first two problems are so serious as to make economic cosmopolitanism unviable, they can still make it seem undesirable in the eyes of those who are concerned with poverty and environmental destruction.
Moreover, there are several other concerns that lead critics to regard economic cosmopolitanism as undesirable. First among these is the lack of effective democratic control by the vast majority of the world's population, as large multinationals are able to impose demands on states that are in a weak economic position and their populations, demands that they cannot reasonably refuse to meet, although this does not mean that they meet them fully voluntarily. This concerns, for example, labor conditions or the use of raw materials in so-called Third World countries.
Second, economic cosmopolitans are accused of failing to pay attention to a number of probable side-effects of a global free market. In particular, they are criticized for neglecting or downplaying issues such as (a) the presupposition of large-scale migration or re-schooling when jobs disappear in one area (the loss of ties to friends and family, language, culture, etc., and the monetary costs of moving or re-tooling), (b) the lack of a guarantee that there will be a sufficient supply of living-wage jobs for all world citizens (especially given increasing automation), and (c) the problem of the detrimental effects of income disparities. They are similarly accused of failing to take seriously the fact that there might be circumstances under which it would be profitable for some states to be protectionist or wage war, such as wars about markets or raw materials and energy (e.g., oil).
3.3 Moral cosmopolitanism
Another version of the criticism that cosmopolitanism is impossible targets the psychological assumptions of moral cosmopolitanism. Here it is said that human beings must have stronger attachments toward members of their own state or nation, and that attempts to disperse attachments to fellow-citizens in order to honor a moral community with human beings as such will cripple our sensibilities. If this is a viability claim and not simply a desirability claim, then it must be supposed that moral cosmopolitanism would literally leave large numbers of people unable to function. So it is claimed that people need a particular sense of national identity in order to be agents, and that a particular sense of national identity requires attachment to particular others perceived to have a similar identity. This argument seems plausible if it is assumed that cosmopolitanism requires the same attitudes towards all other human beings, but moderate cosmopolitanism does not make that assumption. Rather, the moderate cosmopolitan has to insist only that there is some favorable, motivating attitude toward all human beings as such; this leaves room for some special attitudes towards fellow-citizens. Of course, the strict moral cosmopolitan will go further and will deny that fellow-citizens deserve any special attitudes, and it might be thought that this denial is what flouts the limits of human psychology. But this does not seem to be true as an empirical generalization. The cosmopolitan does not need to deny that some people do happen to have the need for national allegiance, so long as it is true that not all people do; and insofar as some people do, the strict cosmopolitan will say that perhaps it does not need to be that way and that cosmopolitan education might lead to a different result. The historical record gives even the strict cosmopolitan some cause for cheer, as human psychology and the forms of political organization have proven to be quite plastic.
In fact, some cosmopolitans have adopted a developmental psychology according to which patriotism is a step on the way to cosmopolitanism: as human individuals mature they develop ever wider loyalties and allegiances, starting with attachments to their caregivers and ending with allegiance to humanity at large. These different attachments are not necessarily in competition with each other. Just as little as loyalty to one's family is generally seen as a problematic feature of citizens, so the argument goes, loyalty to one's state is not a necessarily problematic feature in the eyes of cosmopolitans. Thus, cosmopolitanism is regarded as an extension of a developmental process that also includes the development of patriotism. This claim is just as much in need of empirical support, however, as the opposite claim discussed in the previous paragraph.
Often, though, the critic's arguments about psychological possibility are actually run together with desirability claims. The critic says that the elimination of a special motivating attachment to fellow-citizens is not possible, but the critic means that the elimination of special motivating attachments to fellow-citizens will make a certain desirable form of political life impossible. To respond to this sort of argument, the cosmopolitan has two routes open. First, she can deny the claim itself. Perhaps the viability of politics as usual depends not upon certain beliefs that fellow-citizens deserve more of one's service, but upon commitments to the polity itself. If strictly cosmopolitan patriotism is a possibility, it lives in a commitment to a universal set of principles embodied in a particular political constitution and a particular set of political institutions. If such commitment is enough for desirable politics, then the anti-cosmopolitan is disarmed. But second, the cosmopolitan can of course also deny the value of the form of political life that is posited as desirable. At this point, moral commitments run over into a discussion of political theory.
Occasionally it is said that cosmopolitans are treasonous or at least unreliable citizens. But many recognizably cosmopolitan theses (that is, the moderate ones) are consistent with loyalty to fellow-citizens, and even the strictest cosmopolitan can justify some forms of service to fellow-citizens when they are an optimal way to do good for human beings (who happen to be fellow-citizens, and not because they are fellow-citizens).
This last criticism can be developed further, however, and tailored specifically to target the strict cosmopolitan. If the strict cosmopolitan can justify only some forms of service to fellow-citizens, under some conditions, it might be said that she is blind to other morally required forms or conditions of service to fellow-citizens. At this point, the critic offers reasons why a person has special obligations to compatriots, which are missed by the strict cosmopolitan. Many critics who introduce these reasons are themselves moderate cosmopolitans, wishing to demonstrate that there are special obligations to fellow-citizens in addition to general duties to the community of all human beings. But if these reasons are demanding enough, then there may be no room left for any community with all human beings, and so these objections to strict cosmopolitanism can also provide some impetus toward an anti-cosmopolitan stance. Because there are several such reasons that are frequently proposed, there are, in effect, several objections to the strictly cosmopolitan position, and they should be considered one-by-one.
The first narrow objection to strict cosmopolitanism is that it neglects the obligations of reciprocity. According to this argument, we have obligations to give benefits in return for benefits received, and we receive benefits from our fellow-citizens. The best strictly cosmopolitan response to this argument will insist on a distinction between the state and fellow-citizens and will question exactly who provides which benefits and what is owed in return. On grounds of reciprocity the state may be owed certain things — cooperative obedience — and these things may in fact generally benefit fellow-citizens. But the state is not owed these things because one owes the fellow-citizens benefits. One does not appropriately signal gratitude for benefits received from the state by, say, giving more to local charities than to charities abroad because charity like this does not address the full agent responsible for the benefits one has received, and does not even seem to be the sort of thing that is commensurate with the benefits received. In assessing this exchange of arguments, there are some significantly difficult questions to answer concerning exactly how the receipt of benefits obliges one to make a return and concerning how the benefits one receives from one's state affect the acceptability of emigration.
A second objection to strict moral cosmopolitanism gives contractarian grounds for our obligations to fellow-citizens. Because actual agreements to prioritize fellow-citizens as beneficiaries are difficult to find, the contractarians generally rely upon an implicit agreement that expresses the interests or values of the fellow-citizens themselves. So the contractarian argument turns on identifying interests or values that obligate fellow-citizens to benefit each other. Perhaps, then, it will be argued that citizens have deep interests in what a successful civil society and state can offer them, and that these interests commit the citizens to an implicit agreement to benefit fellow-citizens. The strict cosmopolitan will reply to such an argument with skepticism about what is required for the civil society. Why is more than cooperative obedience required by our interests in what a successful state and civil society can provide? Surely some citizens have to dedicate themselves to working on behalf of this particular society, but why can they not do so on the grounds that this is the best way to benefit human beings as such? Perhaps an intermediate position here is the (Kantian) view that it is morally necessary to establish just democratic states and that just democratic states need some special commitment on the part of their citizens in order to function as democracies, a special commitment that goes beyond mere cooperative obedience but that can still be defended in universalist cosmopolitan terms. The acceptability of this type of view, however, will depend on whether one finds convincing the underlying Kantian political theory.
The final argument for recognizing obligations to benefit fellow-citizens appeals to what David Miller has called ‘relational facts.’ Here the general thought is that certain relationships are constituted by reciprocal obligations: one cannot be a friend or a brother without having certain friendship-obligations or sibling-obligations, respectively. If fellow-citizenship is like these other relations, then we would seem to have special obligations to fellow-citizens. But this argument, which can be found in Cicero's De Officiis, depends upon our intuitions that fellow-citizenship is like friendship or brotherhood and that friendship and brotherhood do come with special obligations, and both intuitions require more argument. Frequently, these arguments appeal to alleged facts about human nature or about human psychology, but these appeals generally raise still further questions.
In sum, a range of interesting and difficult philosophical issues is raised by the disputes between cosmopolitans of various stripes and their critics. As the world becomes a smaller place through increased social, political, and economic contacts, these disputes and the issues they raise will only become more pressing.
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• (Stoics). Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta. Ed. H. von Arnim (vols. 1-3) and M. Adler (vol. 4). Leipzig: Teubner, 1903-1905, 1924. Some of the fragments and testimonia are translated in A.A. Long and D.N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, Volume One: Translations of the Principal Sources, with Philosophical Commentary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Some of the fragments and testimonia are also translated in Hellenistic Philosophy: Introductory Readings. Trans. Brad Inwood and L.P. Gerson. 2nd ed. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997. For translations of more of the relevant fragments and testimonia, see the secondary literature listed below.
On the History of Cosmopolitanism
• Baldry, H.C. The Unity of Mankind in Greek Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965.
• Brown, Eric. “Hellenistic Cosmopolitanism.” in A Companion to Ancient Philosophy, ed. Mary Louise Gill and Pierre Pellegrin (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 549-558.
• -----. “Socrates the Cosmopolitan.” in Stanford Agora: An Online Journal of Legal Perspectives 1 (2000).
• -----. Stoic Cosmopolitanism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
• Heater, Derek. World Citizenship and Government: Cosmopolitan Ideas in the History of Western Political Thought. New York: St. Martin's, 1996.
• Heuvel, Gerd van den. “Cosmopolite, Cosmopolitisme.” In Handbuch politisch-sozialer Grundbegriffe in Frankreich 1680-1820, ed. Rolf Reichardt and Eberhard Schmidt, 41-55. München: Oldenbourg, 1986.
• Kleingeld, Pauline. “Approaching Perpetual Peace: Kant's Defence of a League of States and his Ideal of a World Federation.” European Journal of Philosophy 12 (2004): 304-325.
• -----. “Kant's Cosmopolitan Law: World Citizenship for a Global Order.” Kantian Review 2 (1998): 72-90.
• Meinecke, Friedrich. Cosmopolitanism and the National State. Trans. Robert B. Kimber. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970.
• Moles, J.L. “Cynic Cosmopolitanism.” In The Cynics: The Cynic Movement in Antiquity and Its Legacy, ed. R. Bracht Branham and Marie-Odile Goulet-Cazé, 105-120. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996.
• -----. “The Cynics.” In The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought, ed. Christopher Rowe and Malcolm Schofield, 415-434. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
• -----. “The Cynics and Politics.” In Justice and Generosity, ed. André Laks and Malcolm Schofield, Justice and Generosity: Studies in Hellenistic Social and Political Philosophy, 129-158. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
• Nussbaum, Martha C. “Kant and Cosmopolitanism.” In Perpetual Peace: Essays on Kant's Cosmopolitan Ideal, ed. James Bohman and Matthias Lutz-Bachmann, 25-57. Cambridge: MIT, 1997.
• Schlereth, Thomas J. The Cosmopolitan Ideal in Enlightenment Thought: Its Form and Function in the Ideas of Franklin, Hume, and Voltaire, 1694-1790. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977.
• Schofield, Malcolm. The Stoic Idea of the City. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
On the Taxonomy of Cosmopolitanisms
• Kleingeld, Pauline. “Six Varieties of Cosmopolitanism in Late Eighteenth-Century Germany.” Journal of the History of Ideas 60 (1999): 505-524.
• Scheffler, Samuel. “Conceptions of Cosmopolitanism.” Utilitas 11 (1999): 255-276. reprinted in his Boundaries and Allegiances (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 111-130.
On Contemporary Cosmopolitanisms, For and Against
• Appiah, Kwame A. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006.
• Beitz, Charles R. “Cosmopolitan Ideals and National Sentiment.” Journal of Philosophy 80 (1983): 591-600.
• -----. Political Theory and International Relations. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979.
• Benhabib, Seyla. The Rights of Others: Aliens, Residents and Citizens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
• Bohman, James. “Cosmopolitan Republicanism.” The Monist 84 (2001): 3-22.
• Brock, Gillian, and Brighouse, Harry. The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005.
• Cabrera, Luis. Political Theory of Global Justice: A Cosmopolitan Case for the World State. London: Routledge, 2004.
• Caney, Simon. Justice Beyond Borders: A Global Political Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
• Cheah, Pheng, and Bruce Robbins, eds. Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998.
• Couture, Jocelyne, et al., eds. Rethinking Nationalism. Canadian Journal of Philosophy s.v. 22 (1996).
• De Greiff, Pablo, and Cronin, Ciaran, eds. Global Justice and Transnational Politics: Essays on the Moral and Political Challenges of Globalization. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002.
• Gewirth, Alan. “Ethical Universalism and Particularism.” Journal of Philosophy 85 (1988): 283-302.
• Gilbert, Margaret. “Group Membership and Political Obligation.” Monist 76 (1993): 119-131.
• Goodin, R.E. Protecting the Vulnerable: A Reanalysis of Our Social Responsibilities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.
• -----. “What is So Special about Our Fellow Countrymen?” Ethics 98 (1988): 663-687.
• Habermas, Jürgen. “Kant's Idea of Perpetual Peace, with the Benefit of Two Hundred Years' Hindsight.” In Perpetual Peace: Essays on Kant's Cosmopolitan Ideal, ed. James Bohman and Matthias Lutz-Bachmann, 113-53. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997.
• Hayden, Patrick. Cosmopolitan Global Politics. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005.
• Held, David. Cosmopolitanism: A Defence. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003.
• -----. Democracy and the Global Order: From the Modern State to Cosmopolitan Governance. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995.
• Jones, Charles. Global Justice: Defending Cosmopolitanism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
• Kleingeld, Pauline. “Kantian Patriotism.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 29 (2000): 313-341.
• Kymlicka, Will. Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
• MacIntyre, Alasdair. “Is Patriotism a Virtue?” In Theorizing Citizenship, ed. Ronald Beiner, 209-228. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.
• Margalit, Avishai, and Joseph Raz. “National Self-Determination.” Journal of Philosophy 87 (1990): 439-61.
• Martin, Rex, and Reidy, David, eds. Rawls's Law of Peoples: A Realistic Utopia?. Malden: Blackwell, 2006.
• Mason, Andrew. “Special Obligations to Compatriots.” Ethics 107 (1997): 427-447.
• McKim, Robert, and Jeff McMahan, eds. The Morality of Nationalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
• Miller, David. On Nationality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
• Miller, Richard W. “Cosmopolitan Respect and Patriotic Concern.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 27 (1998): 202-224.
• Moellendorf, Darrel. Cosmopolitan Justice. Boulder: Westview Press, 2002.
• Nathanson, Stephen. Patriotism, Morality, and Peace. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 1993.
• Nussbaum, Martha C. Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2006.
• Nussbaum, Martha C., et al. For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism. Ed. Joshua Cohen. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996. revised version of The Boston Review 19,5 (Oct/Nov 1994).
• O'Neill, Onora. Bounds of Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
• Pogge, Thomas W. “Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty.” Ethics 103 (1992): 48-75
• -----. Realizing Rawls. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989.
• Pogge, Thomas W., ed. Global Justice. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001.
• Rawls, John. The Law of Peoples. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.
• Scheffler, Samuel. Boundaries and Allegiances: Problems of Justice and Responsibility in Liberal Thought. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
• Shue, Henry. Basic Rights: Subsistence, Affluence, and U.S. Foreign Policy. 2nd ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.
• Singer, Peter. One World: The Ethics of Globalization. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.
• -----. Practical Ethics. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
• Tamir, Yael. Liberal Nationalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.
• Tan, Kok-Chor. Justice Without Borders: Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism, and Patriotism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
• Unger, Peter. Living High and Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
• Vertovec, Steven, and Cohen, Robin, eds. Conceiving Cosmopolitanism: Theory, Context, and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
• Waldron, Jeremy. “Minority Cultures and the Cosmopolitan Alternative.” University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 25 (1992): 751-93.
• -----. “Special Ties and Natural Duties.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 22 (1993): 3-30.
• -----. “Who is my Neighbor? - Proximity and Humanity.” The Monist 86 (2003): 333-54.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Discourse ethics, sometimes called argumentation ethics, refers to a type of argument that attempts to establish normative or ethical truths by examining the presuppositions of discourse.
• 1 Habermas and Apel
o 1.1 Presupposition
o 1.2 Universalization
• 2 Libertarian approaches
o 2.1 Roger Pilon
• 3 References
• 4 See also
 Habermas and Apel
German philosophers Jürgen Habermas and Karl-Otto Apel are probably properly considered as the originators of modern discourse ethics. Habermas's discourse ethics is his attempt to explain the implications of communicative rationality in the sphere of moral insight and normative validity. It is a complex theoretical effort to reformulate the fundamental insights of Kantian deontological ethics in terms of the analysis of communicative structures. This means that it is an attempt to explain the universal and obligatory nature of morality by evoking the universal obligations of communicative rationality. It is also a cognitivist moral theory, which means it holds that justifying the validity of moral norms can be done in a manner analogous to the justification of facts. However, the entire project is undertaken as a rational reconstruction of moral insight. It claims only to reconstruct the implicit normative orientations that guide individuals and it claims to access these through an analysis of communication.
Habermas maintains that normative validity cannot be understood as separate from the argumentative procedures used in everyday practice, such as those used to resolve issues concerning the legitimacy of actions and the validity of the norms governing interactions. He makes this claim by making reference to the validity dimensions attached to speech acts in communication and the implicit forms of argumentation they imply (see Universal pragmatics). The basic idea is that the validity of a moral norm cannot be justified in the mind of an isolated individual reflecting on the world. The validity of a norm is justified only intersubjectively in processes of argumentation between individuals; in a dialectic. The validity of a claim to normative rightness depends upon the mutual understanding achieved by individuals in argument.
From this it follows that the presuppositions of argumentation would become important. Kant extracted moral principles from the necessities forced upon a rational subject reflecting on the world. Habermas extracts moral principles from the necessities forced upon individuals engaged in the discursive justification of validity claims, from the inescapable presuppositions of communication and argumentation. These presuppositions were the kinds of idealization that individuals had to make in order for communication and argumentation to even begin. For example:
• The presupposition that participants in communicative exchange are using the same linguistic expressions in the same way
• The presupposition that no relevant argument is suppressed or excluded by the participants
• The presupposition that no force except that of the better argument is exerted
• The presupposition that all the participants are motivated only by a concern for the better argument
There were also presuppositions unique to discourse:
• The presupposition that everyone would agree to the universal validity of the claim thematized
• The presupposition that everyone capable of speech and action is entitled to participate, and everyone is equally entitled to introduce new topics or express attitudes needs or desires
• The presupposition that no validity claim is exempt in principle from critical evaluation in argumentation
These are all at the center of Habermas's moral theory. Habermas's discourse ethics attempts to distill the idealized moral point of view that accompanies a perfectly rational process of argumentation (also idealized), which would be the moral principle implied by the presuppositions listed above. The key point is that the presuppositions of argumentation and communication that have been rationally reconstructed by Habermas are both factual and normative. This can be said about his entire project because it is explicitly attempting to bridge the gap between the "is" and the "ought". Habermas speaks of the mutual recognition and exchanging of roles and perspectives that are demanded by the very structural condition of rational argumentation. He maintains that what is implied in these factual presuppositions of communication is the deep structure of moral norms, the conditions that every valid norm must fulfill.
The presuppositions of communication express a universal obligation to maintain impartial judgment in discourse, which constrains all affected to adopt the perspectives of all others in the exchange of reasons. From this Habermas extracts the following principle of universalization (U), which is the condition every valid norm has to fulfill:
(U) All affected can accept the consequences and the side effects that [the norm's] general observance can be anticipated to have for the satisfaction of everyone's interests, and the consequences are preferred to those of known alternative possibilities for regulation. (source??)
This can be understood as the deep structure of all acceptable moral norms, and should not be confused with the principle of discourse ethics (D), which presupposes that norms exist that satisfy the conditions specified by (U).
(D) Only those norms can claim to be valid that meet (or could meet) with the approval of all affected in their capacity as participants in a practical discourse.
The implications of (U) and (D) are quite profound. (U) claims to be a rational reconstruction of the impartial moral point of view at the heart of all cognitivist moral theories. According to moral cognitivists (e.g. Kant, Rawls etc.), it is only from such a moral point of view that insight into the actual (quasi-factual) impersonal obligations of a general will can be gained, because this perspective relieves decisions from the inaccuracies of personal interests. Of course, Habermas's reconstruction is different because it is intersubjective. That is, Habermas (unlike Kant or Rawls) formulates the moral point of view as it arises out of the multiple perspectives of those affected by a norm under consideration. The moral point of view explicated in (U) is not the property of an individual subject but the property of a community of interlocutors, the results of a complex dialogical process of role taking and perspective exchanging. Furthermore, (U) is deduced from a rational reconstruction of the presupposition of communication, which downgrades the strong transcendentalism of Kantian ethics by establishing a foundation in inner-worldly processes of communication.
(D) on the other hand is a principle concerning the manner in which norms conforming to (U) must be justified though discourse. Again, Habermas takes the task of moral reflection out of the isolated individual's head and gives it to intersubjective processes of communication. What (D) proposes is that moral principles must be validated in actual discourse and that those to be affected by a norm must be able to participate in argumentation concerning its validity. No number of thought experiments can replace a communicative exchange with others regarding moral norms that will affect them. Moreover, this general prescription concerning the type of discourse necessary for the justification of moral norms opens the process of moral deliberation to the kind of learning that accompanies a fallibilistic orientation. (U) and (D) are catalysts for a moral learning process, which although fallible is not relative. The flesh and blood insights of participants in communicative exchange are refracted through the universal guidelines explicated from the deep structures of communication and argumentation. This spawns discourses with a rational trajectory, which are grounded in the particular circumstances of those involved but aimed at a universal moral validity.
 Libertarian approaches
Hans-Hermann Hoppe's "argumentation ethics" is a defense of libertarian rights. Drawing on the work of Habermas and Apel, Hoppe, a former student of Habermas's, asserts that argumentation, or discourse, is by its nature a conflict-free way of interacting and requires individual control of resources; thus, he argues, certain norms are presupposed as true by anyone engaging in genuine discourse. These norms include the libertarian principle of non-aggression, which itself implies libertarian rights. Therefore, no one can argumentatively deny libertarian rights without self-contradiction.
Gary B. Madison's views are similar to Hoppe's argumentation ethics and also draw on Habermasian discourse ethics. Madison argues that
the various values defended by liberalism are not arbitrary, a matter of mere personal preference, nor do they derive from some natural law. . . . Rather, they are nothing less and nothing more than what could be called the operative presuppositions or intrinsic features and demands of communicative rationality itself. In other words, they are values that are implicitly recognized and affirmed by everyone by the very fact of their engaging in communicative reason. This amounts to saying that no one can rationally deny them without at the same time denying reason, without self-contradiction, without in fact abandoning all attempts to persuade the other and to reach agreement.
These implicitly recognized values include a renunciation of the legitimacy of violence. Thus,
it is absolutely impossible for anyone who claims to be rational, which is to say human, outrightly to defend violence .... [As Paul Ricoeur writes:]'. . . violence is the opposite of discourse. . . . Violence is always the interruption of discourse: discourse is always the interruption of violence.' That violence is the opposite of discourse means that it can never justify itself—and is therefore not justifiable—for only through discourse can anything be justified. As the theory of rational argumentation and discussion, liberalism amounts, therefore, to a rejection of power politics.
Thus, Madison, like Hoppe, argues that the fact-value gap can be bridged by an appeal to the nature of discourse.
While Hoppe attempts to show that the non-aggression principle (i.e., self-ownership plus the right to homestead) itself is directly implied by any discourse or argumentation, Madison's arguments are a bit different. For instance, he argues that, because discourse has priority over violence, this validates the Kantian claim that people ought to be treated as ends rather than means, which is the principle of human dignity. The principle of freedom from coercion then follows from the principle of human dignity.
The "estoppel" theory of Stephan Kinsella draws on Hoppe's theory. Kinsella argues that an aggressor cannot coherently object to being punished for the act of aggression, by the victim or the victim's agents or heirs, i.e. he is "estopped" from withholding consent, because by committing aggression he commits himself to the proposition that the use of force is legitimate, and therefore, his withholding consent based on his right not to be physically harmed contradicts his aggressive legitimation of force.
In a theory bearing some resemblance to Kinsella's estoppel theory, law professor Lawrence Crocker proposes the use of moral estoppel in preventing a criminal from asserting the unfairness of being punished in certain situations. Crocker's theory, while interesting, is not rigorous, and Crocker does not seem to realize the implications of estoppel for justifying only the libertarian conception of rights. Rather than focusing on the reciprocity between the force used in punishment and the force of an aggressive act by a wrongdoer, Crocker claims that a person who has "treated another person or the society at large in a fashion that the criminal law prohibits" is "morally estopped" from asserting that his punishment would be unfair. Crocker's theory is not quite libertarian, however, since it seems to assume that any law is valid, even those that do not prohibit the initiation of force.
Flemish law professor Frank van Dun suggests that one implication of "the ethics of dialogue" is that we ought to respect the "dialogical rights of others — their right to speak or not to speak, to listen or not to listen, to use their own judgment." Van Dun even suggests that "principles of private property and uncoerced exchange" are also presupposed by participants in discourse.
Philosopher Jeremy Shearmur also proposes that an argument about 'dialogue rights' which draws on themes from Hayek and Karl Popper may be developed to justify individual property rights and other classical liberal principles, in an argument different in approach from that of Hoppe, Madison, and van Dun.
Other theories bearing some resemblance to discourse ethics include the theory that the nature of discourse may be used to defend the right to free speech and Tibor Machan's view that discourse in general and political dialogue in particular rest on individualist prerequisites or presuppositions. However, Machan, accepting the validity of action-based ethical theories, but not those based purely on argumentation, also maintains that "human action needs to be understood by reference to human nature."
In addition, a "law," in normal usage, has a procedural component that, if adhered to, limits a government's arbitrary and irrational use of power which defends the procedural natural-law position. Language users implicitly accept this normative, procedural aspect of what is described as law; they use a definition of law that also limits what state power can be classified as law.
A somewhat similar argument is made by noted libertarian law professor and legal theorist Randy E. Barnett. Professor Barnett argues that those who claim that the U.S. Constitution justifies certain government regulation of individuals are themselves introducing normative claims into discourse, and thus cannot object, on positivist or wertfrei grounds, to a moral or normative criticism of their position.
 Roger Pilon
Libertarian legal philosopher Roger Pilon has also developed a libertarian version of the rights theory of his teacher, noted philosopher Alan Gewirth. Although he disagrees with the non-libertarian conclusions that Gewirth himself draws from his own rights theory, Pilon states that he builds "upon much of the justificatory groundwork he [Gewirth] has established, for I believe he has located, drawn together, and solved some of the most basic problems in the theory of rights."
To determine what rights we have, Pilon (following Gewirth) focuses on "what it is we necessarily claim about ourselves, if only implicitly, when we act." Pilon argues that all action is conative, that is, an agent acts voluntarily and for purposes which seem good to him. Pilon argues that the prerequisites of successful action are "voluntariness and purposiveness," the so-called "generic features" that characterize all action. Thus an agent cannot help valuing these generic features and even making a rights-claim to them. From this conclusion, it is argued that all agents also necessarily claim rights against coercion and harm. And since it would be inconsistent to maintain that one has rights for these reasons without also admitting that others have these rights too (since the reasoning concerning the nature of action applies equally to all purposive actors), such rights-claims must be universalizable. Thus, an agent in any action makes a rights-claim to be free from coercion and harm, since such rights are necessary to provide for the generic features of action, which an agent also necessarily values, and the agent also necessarily grants these rights to others because of the universalizability requirement.
From this point, Pilon/Gewirth develops a sort of modern Categorical Imperative, which is called the "Principle of Generic Consistency" (PGC). The PGC is: "Act in accord with the generic rights of your recipients as well as of yourself." ("Recipients are those who stand opposite agents, who are 'affected by' or 'recipients of' their actions.") Under Pilon's libertarian working of the PGC, the PGC does not require anyone to do anything. It is addressed to agents, but it does not require anyone to be an agent who has recipients. An individual can "do nothing" if he chooses, spending his life in idle contemplation. Provided there are no recipients of this behavior, he is at perfect liberty to perform it. And if there are recipients, the PGC requires only that he act in accord with the generic rights of those recipients, i.e., that he not coerce or harm them. Pilon extends his reasoning and works the PGC to flesh out more fully just what (primarily libertarian) rights we do have.
1. ^ Madison, Gary Brent (1986). The Logic of Liberty. New York: Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313250187.
2. ^ Crocker, Lawrence (1992). "The Upper Limit of Just Punishment". Emory Law Journal 41: 1067.
3. ^ Machan, Tibor R. (June 1996). "Individualism and Political Dialogue". Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of Science and the Humanities 46: 44-55. http://www.stephankinsella.com/texts/machan_dialogue.pdf.
4. ^ Blackman, Rodney (1995). There is There There: Defending the Defenseless with Procedural Natural Law. Arizona Law Review. pp. 285–353.
5. ^ Barnett, Randy E. (1995). "8. Getting Normative, the Role of Natural Rights in Constitutional Adjudication". Natural Law, Liberalism, and Morality. Robert P. George. Oxford University Press. pp. 151-180. ISBN 9780198259848.
6. ^ Barnett, Randy E. (Spring 1993). The Intersection of Natural Rights and Positive Constitutional Law. Connecticut Law Review. pp. 853–68.
7. ^ a b c Pilon, Roger A. (1979). Ordering Rights Consistently: Or What We Do and Do Not Have Rights To. 13. Georgia Law Review. pp. 1171–96.
• Habermas, Jürgen. Discourse Ethics: Notes on a Program of Philosophical Justification.
• Benhabi, Seyla; Fred Reinhard Dallmayr (1990). "Is the Ethics of the Ideal Communication Community a Utopia?". The Communicative Ethics Controversy. Karl-Otto Apel. MIT Press. ISBN 9780262521529.
• Chevigny, Paul G. (1982). The Dialogic Right of Free Expression: A Reply to Michael Martin. 57. New York University Law Review. pp. 920–931.
• Chevigny, Paul G. (1980). Philosophy of Language and Free Expression. 55. New York University Law Review. pp. 157–194.
• Gewirth, Alan (1978). Reason and Morality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226288765.
• Gewirth, Alan. The Basis and Content of Human Rights. 13. Georgia Law Review. pp. 1148.
• Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. "Argumentation Ethics". HansHoppe.com. http://www.hanshoppe.com/sel-topics.php#arg-ethics. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
• Martin, Michael (1982). On a New Argument for Freedom of Speech. 57. New York University Law Review. pp. 906–919.
• Shearmur, Jeremy (1990). "From Dialogue Rights to Property Rights: Foundations for Hayek's Legal Theory". Critical Review 4: 106–32.
• Shearmur, Jeremy (1988). "Habermas: A Critical Approach". Critical Review 2: 47.
• Shearmur, Jeremy (1996). The Political Thought of Karl Popper. Routledge. ISBN 9780415097260.
• Shearmur, Jeremy (1996). Hayek and After. Routledge. ISBN 9780415140584.
• van Dun, Frank. "Comment on R.P.Murphy’s & Gene Callahan’s Critique of Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics". http://users.ugent.be/~frvandun/Texts/Articles/MurphyCallahan.pdf. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
• van Dun, Frank (Spring 1986). "Economics and the Limits of Value-Free Science". Reason Foundation. http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/11/rp_11_2.pdf. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
• van Dun, Frank (1990). "From Dialogue Rights to Property Rights: Foundations for Hayek's Legal Theory". Critical Review 4: 106-132.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. Please improve this article if you can. (March 2009)
Argumentation theory, or argumentation, is the study of how humans can, do, and should reach conclusions through logical reasoning, that is, claims based on premises. It includes the arts and sciences of civil debate, dialogue, conversation, and persuasion. It studies rules of inference, logic, and procedural rules in both artificial and real world settings.
Argumentation includes debate and negotiation which are concerned with reaching mutually acceptable conclusions. It also encompasses eristic dialog, the branch of social debate in which victory over an opponent is the primary goal. This art and science is often the means by which people protect their beliefs or self-interests in rational dialogue, in common parlance, and during the process of arguing.
Argumentation is used in law, for example in trials, in preparing an argument to be presented to a court, and in testing the validity of certain kinds of evidence. Also, argumentation scholars study the post hoc rationalizations by which organizational actors try to justify decisions they have made irrationally.
• 1 Key components of argumentation
• 2 Argumentation and the grounds of knowledge
• 3 Approaches to argumentation in communication and informal logic
• 4 Pragma-dialectics
• 5 Argument fields
• 6 Stephen E. Toulmin's Contributions
o 6.1 An Alternative to Absolutism and Relativism
o 6.2 Components of argument
o 6.3 The Evolution of Knowledge
o 6.4 Rejection of Certainty
• 7 Artificial intelligence
• 8 Internal structure of arguments
• 9 Psychological aspects
• 10 Kinds of argumentation
o 10.1 Conversational argumentation
o 10.2 Mathematical argumentation
o 10.3 Scientific argumentation
o 10.4 Legal argumentation
o 10.5 Political argumentation
• 11 Further reading
o 11.1 Proceedings
o 11.2 Organizations
o 11.3 See also
o 11.4 Notes
o 11.5 Sources
o 11.6 External links
 Key components of argumentation
• Understanding and identifying arguments, either explicit or implied, and the goals of the participants in the different types of dialogue.
• Identifying the premises from which conclusions are derived
• Establishing the "burden of proof" — determining who made the initial claim and is thus responsible for providing evidence why his/her position merits acceptance
• For the one carrying the "burden of proof", the advocate, to marshal evidence for his/her position in order to convince or force the opponent's acceptance. The method by which this is accomplished is producing valid, sound, and cogent arguments, devoid of weaknesses, and not easily attacked.
• In a debate, fulfillment of the burden of proof creates a burden of rejoinder. One must try to identify faulty reasoning in the opponent’s argument, to attack the reasons/premises of the argument, to provide counterexamples if possible, to identify any logical fallacies, and to show why a valid conclusion cannot be derived from the reasons provided for his/her argument.
 Argumentation and the grounds of knowledge
Argumentation theory was once based upon foundationalism, a theory of knowledge (epistemology) in the field of philosophy. It sought to find the grounds for claims in the forms (logic) and materials (factual laws) of a universal system of knowledge. As argument scholars gradually rejected the idealism in Plato and Kant, and jettisoned with it the idea that argument premises take their soundness from formal philosophical systems, the field broadened. . Karl R. Wallace's seminal essay, "The Substance of Rhetoric: Good Reasons," Quarterly Journal of Speech (1963) 44, led many scholars to study "marketplace argumentation," that is the ordinary arguments of ordinary people. The seminal essay on marketplace argumentation is Anderson, Ray Lynn, and C. David Mortensen, "Logic and Marketplace Argumentation." Quarterly Journal of Speech 53 (1967): 143-150.. . This line of thinking led to a natural alliance with late developments in the sociology of knowledge.. Some scholars drew connections with recent developments in philosophy, namely the pragmatism of John Dewey and Richard Rorty. Rorty has called this shift in emphasis "the linguistic turn."
In this new hybrid approach argumentation is used with or without empirical evidence to establish convincing conclusions about issues which are moral, scientific, epistemic, or of a nature in which science alone cannot answer. Out of pragmatism and many intellectual developments in the humanities and social sciences, "non-philosophical" argumentation theories grew which located the formal and material grounds of arguments in particular intellectual fields. These theories include informal logic, social epistemology, ethnomethodology, speech acts, the sociology of knowledge, the sociology of science, and social psychology. These new theories are not non-logical or anti-logical. They find logical coherence in most communities of discourse. These theories are thus often labeled "sociological" in that they focus on the social grounds of knowledge.
 Approaches to argumentation in communication and informal logic
In general, the label "argumentation" is used by communication scholars such as (to name only a few) Wayne E. Brockriede, Douglas Ehninger, Joseph W. Wenzel, Richard Rieke, Gordon Mitchell, Carol Winkler, Eric Gander, Dennis S. Gouran, Daniel J. O'Keefe, Mark Aakhus, Bruce Gronbeck, James Klumpp,G. Thomas Goodnight, Robin Rowland, Dale Hample, C. Scott Jacobs, Sally Jackson, David Zarefsky, and Charles Arthur Willard) while the term "informal logic" is preferred by philosophers, stemming from University of Windsor philosophers Ralph Johnson and J. Anthony Blair.
Trudy Govier, Douglas Walton, Michael Gilbert, Harvey Seigal, Michael Scriven, and John Woods (to name only a few) are other prominent authors in this tradition. Over the past thirty years, however, scholars from several disciplines have co-mingled at international conferences such as that hosted by the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (ISSA). Other international conferences are the biannual conference held at Alta, Utah sponsored by the (US) National Communication Association and American Forensics Association and conferences sponsored by the Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation (OSSA).
Some scholars (such as Ralph Johnson) construe the term "argument", narrowly, for instance as exclusively written discourse or even discourse in which all premises are explicit. Others (such as Michael Gilbert) construe the term "argument" broadly, to include spoken and even nonverbal discourse, for instance the degree to which a war memorial or propaganda poster can be said to argue or "make arguments." The philosopher Stephen E. Toulmin has said that an argument is a claim on our attention and belief, a view that would seem to authorize treating, say, propaganda posters as arguments. The dispute between broad and narrow theorists is of long standing and is unlikely to be settled. The views of the majority of argumentation theorists and analysts fall somewhere between these two extremes.
Main article: Pragma-dialectics
One rigorous modern version of dialectic has been pioneered by scholars at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, under the name pragma-dialectics. The intuitive idea is to formulate clearcut rules that, if followed, will yield rational discussion and sound conclusions. Frans van Eemeren, the late Rob Grootendorst, and many of their students have produced a large body of work expounding this idea.
The dialectical conception of reasonableness is given by ten rules for critical discussion, all being instrumental for achieving a resolution of the difference of opinion (from Van Eemeren, Grootendorst, & Snoeck Henkemans, 2002, p. 182-183):
• Freedom rule. Parties must not prevent each other from advancing standpoints or from casting doubt on standpoints.
• Burden of proof rule. A party that advances a standpoint is obliged to defend it if asked by the other party to do so.
• Standpoint rule. A party’s attack on a standpoint must relate to the standpoint that has indeed been advanced by the other party.
• Relevance rule. A party may defend a standpoint only by advancing argumentation relating to that standpoint.
• Unexpressed premise rule. A party may not disown a premise that has been left implicit by that party, or falsely present something as a premise that has been left unexpressed by the other party.
• Starting point rule. A party may not falsely present a premise as an accepted starting point nor deny a premise representing an accepted starting point.
• Argument scheme rule. A party may not regard a standpoint as conclusively defended if the defense does not take place by means of an appropriate argumentation scheme that is correctly applied.
• Validity rule. A party may only use arguments in its argumentation that are logically valid or capable of being validated by making explicit one or more unexpressed premises
• Closure rule. A failed defense of a standpoint must result in the party that put forward the standpoint retracting it and a conclusive defense of the standpoint must result in the other party retracting its doubt about the standpoint.
• Usage rule. A party must not use formulations that are insufficiently clear or confusingly ambiguous and a party must interpret the other party’s formulations as carefully and accurately as possible.
The theory postulates this as an ideal model, and not something one expects to find as an empirical fact. It can however serve as an important heuristic and critical tool for testing how reality approximates this ideal and point to where discourse goes wrong, that is, when the rules are violated. Any such violation will constitute a fallacy. Albeit not primarily focused on fallacies, pragma-dialectics provides a systematic approach to deal with them in a coherent way.
 Argument fields
Stephen E. Toulmin and Charles Arthur Willard have championed the idea of argument fields, the former drawing upon Ludwig Wittgenstein's notion of language games, the latter drawing from communication and argumentation theory, sociology, political science, and social epistemology. For Toulmin, the term "field" designates discourses within which arguments and factual claims are grounded. For Willard, the term "field" is interchangeable with "community," "audience," or "readership." Along similar lines, G. Thomas Goodnight has studied "spheres" of argument and sparked a large literature created by younger scholars responding to or using his ideas. The general tenor of these field theories is that the premises of arguments take their meaning from social communities.
Field studies might focus on social movements, issue-centered publics (for instance, pro-life versus pro-choice in the abortion dispute), small activist groups, corporate public relations campaigns and issue management, scientific communities and disputes, political campaigns, and intellectual traditions. In the manner of a sociologist, ethnographer, anthropologist, participant-observer, and journalist, the field theorist gathers and reports on real-world human discourses, gathering case studies that might eventually be combined to produce high-order explanations of argumentation processes. This is not a quest for some master language or master theory covering all specifics of human activity. Field theorists are agnostic about the possibility of a single grand theory and skeptical about the usefulness of such a theory. Theirs is a more modest quest for "mid-range" theories that might permit generalizations about families of discourses.
 Stephen E. Toulmin's Contributions
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 An Alternative to Absolutism and Relativism
Toulmin has argued that absolutism (represented by theoretical or analytic arguments) has limited practical value. Absolutism is derived from Plato’s idealized formal logic, which advocates universal truth; thus absolutists believe that moral issues can be resolved by adhering to a standard set of moral principles, regardless of context. By contrast, Toulmin asserts that many of these so-called standard principles are irrelevant to real situations encountered by human beings in daily life.
To describe his vision of daily life, Toulmin introduced the concept of argument fields; in The Uses of Argument (1958), Toulmin states that some aspects of arguments vary from field to field, and are hence called “field-dependent,” while other aspects of argument are the same throughout all fields, and are hence called “field-invariant.” The flaw of absolutism, Toulmin believes, lies in its unawareness of the field-dependent aspect of argument; absolutism assumes that all aspects of argument are field invariant.
Toulmin’s theories resolve to avoid the defects of absolutism without resorting to relativism: relativism, Toulmin asserted, provides no basis for distinguishing between a moral or immoral argument. In Human Understanding (1972), Toulmin suggests that anthropologists have been tempted to side with relativists because they have noticed the influence of cultural variations on rational arguments; in other words, the anthropologist or relativist overemphasizes the importance of the “field-dependent” aspect of arguments, and becomes unaware of the “field-invariant” elements. In an attempt to provide solutions to the problems of absolutism and relativism, Toulmin attempts throughout his work to develop standards that are neither absolutist nor relativist for assessing the worth of ideas.
Toulmin believes that a good argument can succeed in providing good justification to a claim, which will stand up to criticism and earn a favourable verdict.
 Components of argument
In The Uses of Argument (1958), Toulmin proposed a layout containing six interrelated components for analyzing arguments:
Conclusions whose merit must be established. For example, if a person tries to convince a listener that he is a British citizen, the claim would be “I am a British citizen.” (1)
The facts we appeal to as a foundation for the claim. For example, the person introduced in 1 can support his claim with the supporting data “I was born in Bermuda.” (2)
The statement authorizing our movement from the data to the claim. In order to move from the data established in 2, “I was born in Bermuda,” to the claim in 1, “I am a British citizen,” the person must supply a warrant to bridge the gap between 1 & 2 with the statement “A man born in Bermuda will legally be a British Citizen.” (3)
Credentials designed to certify the statement expressed in the warrant; backing must be introduced when the warrant itself is not convincing enough to the readers or the listeners. For example, if the listener does not deem the warrant in 3 as credible, the speaker will supply the legal provisions as backing statement to show that it is true that “A man born in Bermuda will legally be a British Citizen.”
Statements recognizing the restrictions to which the claim may legitimately be applied. The rebuttal is exemplified as follows, “A man born in Bermuda will legally be a British citizen, unless he has betrayed Britain and has become a spy of another country.”
Words or phrases expressing the speaker’s degree of force or certainty concerning the claim. Such words or phrases include “possible,” “probably,” “impossible,” “certainly,” “presumably,” “as far as the evidence goes,” or “necessarily.” The claim “I am definitely a British citizen” has a greater degree of force than the claim “I am a British citizen, presumably.”
The first three elements “claim,” “data,” and “warrant” are considered as the essential components of practical arguments, while the second triad “qualifier,” “backing,” and “rebuttal” may not be needed in some arguments.
When first proposed, this layout of argumentation is based on legal arguments and intended to be used to analyze the rationality of arguments typically found in the courtroom; in fact, Toulmin did not realize that this layout would be applicable to the field of rhetoric and communication until his works were introduced to rhetoricians by Wayne Brockriede and Douglas Ehninger. Only after he published Introduction to Reasoning (1979) were the rhetorical applications of this layout mentioned in his works.
 The Evolution of Knowledge
Toulmin's Human Understanding (1972) asserts that conceptual change is evolutionary. This book attacks Thomas Kuhn’s explanation of conceptual change in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn held that conceptual change is a revolutionary (as opposed to an evolutionary) process in which mutually exclusive paradigms compete to replace one another. Toulmin criticizes the relativist elements in Kuhn’s thesis, as he points out that the mutually exclusive paradigms provide no ground for comparison; in other words, Kuhn’s thesis has made the relativists’ error of overemphasizing the “field variant” while ignoring the “field invariant,” or commonality shared by all argumentation or scientific paradigms.
Toulmin proposes an evolutionary model of conceptual change comparable to Darwin’s model of biological evolution. On this reasoning, conceptual change involves innovation and selection. Innovation accounts for the appearance of conceptual variations, while selection accounts for the survival and perpetuation of the soundest conceptions. Innovation occurs when the professionals of a particular discipline come to view things differently from their predecessors; selection subjects the innovative concepts to a process of debate and inquiry in what Toulmin considers as a “forum of competitions.” The soundest concepts will survive the forum of competition as replacements or revisions of the traditional conceptions.
From the absolutists’ point of view, concepts are either valid or invalid regardless of contexts; from a relativists’ perspective, one concept is neither better nor worse than a rival concept from a different cultural context. From Toulmin’s perspective, the evaluation depends on a process of comparison, which determines whether or not one concept will provide improvement to our explanatory power more so than its rival concepts.
 Rejection of Certainty
In Cosmopolis (1990), Toulmin traces the Quest for Certainty back to Descartes and Hobbes, and lauds Dewey, Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Rorty for abandoning that tradition. Descartes lived in troubled, chaotic times (1596-1650).
 Artificial intelligence
See also: Argument mapping
Efforts have been made within the field of artificial intelligence to perform and analyze the act of argumentation with computers. Argumentation has been used to provide a proof-theoretic semantics for non-monotonic logic, starting with the influential work of Dung (1995). Computational argumentation systems have found particular application in domains where formal logic and classical decision theory are unable to capture the richness of reasoning, domains such as law and medicine. A comprehensive overview of this area can be found in a recent book edited by Iyad Rahwan and Guillermo R. Simari .
Within Computer Science, the ArgMAS workshop series (Argumentation in Multi-Agent Systems), the CMNA workshop series. and now the COMMA Conference, are regular annual events attracting participants from every continent. The journal Argument & Computation  is dedicated to exploring the intersection between argumentation and computer science.
 Internal structure of arguments
Typically an argument has an internal structure, comprising of the following
1. a set of assumptions or premises
2. a method of reasoning or deduction and
3. a conclusion or point.
An argument must have at least one premise and one conclusion.
Often classical logic is used as the method of reasoning so that the conclusion follows logically from the assumptions or support. One challenge is that if the set of assumptions is inconsistent then anything can follow logically from inconsistency. Therefore it is common to insist that the set of assumptions is consistent. It is also good practice to require the set of assumptions to be the minimal set, with respect to set inclusion, necessary to infer the consequent. Such arguments are called MINCON arguments, short for minimal consistent. Such argumentation has been applied to the fields of law and medicine. A second school of argumentation investigates abstract arguments, where 'argument' is considered a primitive term, so no internal structure of arguments is taken on account.
In its most common form, argumentation involves an individual and an interlocutor/or opponent engaged in dialogue, each contending differing positions and trying to persuade each other. Other types of dialogue in addition to persuasion are eristic, information seeking, inquiry, negotiation, deliberation, and the dialectical method (Douglas Walton). The dialectical method was made famous by Plato and his use of Socrates critically questioning various characters and historical figures.
 Psychological aspects
Psychology has long studied the non-logical aspects of argumentation. For example, studies have shown that simple repetition of an idea is often a more effective method of argumentation than appeals to reason. Propaganda often utilizes repetition.  Nazi rhetoric has been studied extensively as, inter alia, a repetition campaign.
Empirical studies of communicator credibility and attractiveness, sometimes labeled charisma, have also been tied closely to empirically-occurring arguments. Such studies bring argumentation within the ambit of persuasion theory and practice.
Some psychologists such as William J. McGuire believe that the syllogism is the basic unit of human reasoning. They have produced a large body of empirical work around McGuire's famous title "A Syllogistic Analysis of Cognitive Relationships." A central thrust of this thinking is that logic is contaminated by psychological variables such as "wishful thinking," in which subjects confound the likelihood of predictions with the desirability of the predictions. People hear what they want to hear and see what they expect to see. If planners want something to happen they see it as likely to happen. Thus planners ignore possible problems, as in the American experiment with prohibition. If they hope something will not happen, they see it as unlikely to happen. Thus smokers think that they personally will avoid cancer. Promiscuous people practice unsafe sex. Teenagers drive recklessly.
 Kinds of argumentation
 Conversational argumentation
Main articles: Conversation Analysis and Discourse Analysis
The study of naturally-occurring conversation arose from the field of sociolinguistics. It is usually called conversational analysis. Inspired by ethnomethodology, it was developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s principally by the sociologist Harvey Sacks and, among others, his close associates Emanuel Schegloff and Gail Jefferson. Sacks died early in his career, but his work was championed by others in his field, and CA has now become an established force in sociology, anthropology, linguistics, speech-communication and psychology. It is particularly influential in interactional sociolinguistics, discourse analysis and discursive psychology, as well as being a coherent discipline in its own right. Recently CA techniques of sequential analysis have been employed by phoneticians to explore the fine phonetic details of speech.
Empirical studies and theoretical formulations by Sally Jackson and Scott Jacobs, and several generations of their students, have described argumentation as a form of managing conversational disagreement within communication contexts and systems that naturally prefer agreement.
 Mathematical argumentation
Main article: Philosophy of mathematics
The basis of mathematical truth has been the subject of long debate. Frege in particular sought to demonstrate (see Gottlob Frege, The Foundations of Arithemetic, 1884, and Logicism in Philosophy of mathematics) that arithmetical truths can be derived from purely logical axioms and therefore are, in the end, logical truths. The project was developed by Russell and Whitehead in their Principia Mathematica. If an argument can be cast in the form of sentences in Symbolic Logic, then it can be tested by the application of accepted proof procedures. This has been carried out for Arithmetic using Peano axioms. Be that as it may, an argument in Mathematics, as in any other discipline, can be considered valid just in case it can be shown to be of a form such that it cannot have true premises and a false conclusion.
 Scientific argumentation
Main article: Philosophy of Science
Perhaps the most radical statement of the social grounds of scientific knowledge appears in Alan G.Gross's The Rhetoric of Science (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990). Gross holds that science is rhetorical "without remainder," meaning that scientific knowledge itself cannot be seen as an idealized ground of knowledge. Scientific knowledge is produced rhetorically, meaning that it has special epistemic authority only insofar as its communal methods of verification are trustworthy. This thinking represents an almost complete rejection of the foundationalism on which argumentation was first based.
 Legal argumentation
Main articles: Oral argument and Closing argument
Legal arguments are spoken presentations to a judge or appellate court by a lawyer, or parties when representing themselves of the legal reasons why they should prevail. Oral argument at the appellate level accompanies written briefs, which also advance the argument of each party in the legal dispute. A closing argument, or summation, is the concluding statement of each party's counsel reiterating the important arguments for the trier of fact, often the jury, in a court case. A closing argument occurs after the presentation of evidence.
 Political argumentation
Main article: Political argument
Political arguments are used by academics, media pundits, candidates for political office and government officials. Political arguments are also used by citizens in ordinary interactions to comment about and understand political events. . The rationality of the public is a major question in this line of research. A robust political science research tradition seems to prove that the American public is largely irrational and ignorant of even the most basic knowledge of national or world affairs. Political scientist S. Popkin coined the expression "low information voters" to describe most voters who know very little about politics or the world in general.
Some theorists have inferred from this that only comprehensively trained elites can debate public issues. They point as additional proof to the practice of academic debate in the United States, an activity almost exclusively involving children of the upper middle classes, future lawyers and graduate students, and not ordinary citizens.
 Further reading
• Informal Logic
• Argumentation and Advocacy (formerly Journal of the American Forensic Association)
• Social Epistemology
• Episteme: a journal of social epistemology
• Fourteen proceedings of the American Communication Association and the American Forensics Association Conferences on Argumentation at Alta, Utah.
• Six proceedings of the International Association for the Study of Argumentation (ISSA) conferences, Amsterdam, Holland.
• Six proceedings of the Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation conferences, Ontario, Canada.
• Association for Informal Logic and Critical Thinking
• International Society for the Study of Argumentation (ISSA)
• American Forensics Association (National Debate Tournament, or NDT Debate)
• Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA)
 See also
• Argument map
• Burden of proof
• Critical thinking
• Defeasible reasoning
• Discourse ethics
• Essentially contested concepts
• Informal logic
• Legal theory
• Logical fallacy
• Logical argument
• Pars destruens/pars construens
• Public Sphere
• Social Engineering (Political Science)
• Social Psychology (psychology)
• Social epistemology
• Source criticism
• Straight and Crooked Thinking (book)
• Analysis of subjective logics
1. ^ Bruce Gronbeck. "From Argument to Argumentation: Fifteen Years of Identity Crisis." Jack Rhodes and Sara Newell, ed.s Proceedings of the Summer Conference on Argumentation. 1980.
2. ^ See Joseph W. Wenzel "Perspectives on Argument." Jack Rhodes and Sara Newell, ed.s Proceedings of the Summer Conference on Argumentation. 1980.
3. ^ David Zarefsky. "Product, Process, or Point of View? Jack Rhodes and Sara Newell, ed.s Proceedings of the Summer Conference on Argumentation. 1980.
4. ^ See Ray E. McKerrow. "Argument Communities: A Quest for Distinctions."
5. ^ Stephen E. Toulmin. The uses of argument. 1959.
6. ^ Charles Arthur Willard. "Some Questions About Toulmin's View of Argument Fields." Jack Rhodes and Sara Newell, eds. Proceedings of the Summer Conference on Argumentation. 1980. "Field Theory: A Cartesian Meditation." George Ziegelmueller and Jack Rhodes, eds. Dimensions of Argument: Proceedings of the Second Summer Conference on Argumentation.
7. ^ G. T. Goodnight, "The Personal, Technical, and Public Spheres of Argument." Journal of the American Forensics Association. (1982) 18:214-227. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_sphere
8. ^ Bruce E. Gronbeck. "Sociocultural Notions of Argument Fields: A Primer." George Ziegelmueller and Jack Rhodes, eds. Dimensions of Argument: Proceedings of the Second Summer Conference on Argumentation. (1981) 1-20.
9. ^ Robert Rowland, "Purpose, Argument Fields, and Theoretical Justification." Argumentation. vol. 22 Number 2 (2008) 235-250.
10. ^ I. Rahwan & G. R. Simari (Eds.), "Argumentation in Artificial Intelligence." Springer, 2009. See also: http://www.springer.com/computer/artificial/book/978-0-387-98196-3
11. ^ Computational Models of Natural Argument
12. ^ Computational Models of Argument
13. ^ Journal of Argument & Computation
14. ^ Jacques Ellul, Propaganda, Vintage, 1973, ISBN 0394718747 ISBN 978-0394718743.
15. ^ Psathas, George (1995): Conversation Analysis, Thousand Oaks: Sage Sacks, Harvey. (1995). Lectures on Conversation. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 1-55786-705-4. Sacks, Harvey, Schegloff, Emanuel A., & Jefferson, Gail (1974). A simple systematic for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language, 50, 696-735. Schegloff, Emanuel A. (2007). Sequence Organization in Interaction: A Primer in Conversation Analysis, Volume 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ten Have, Paul (1999): Doing Conversation Analysis. A Practical Guide, Thousand Oaks: Sage.
16. ^ Michael McGee. "The 'Ideograph' as a Unit of Analysis in Political Argument." Jack Rhodes and Sara Newell, eds. Proceedings of the Summer Conference on Argumentation. 1980.
• J. Robert Cox and Charles Arthur Willard, eds. Advances in Argumentation Theory and Research 1982.
• Dung, P. M. "On the acceptability of arguments and its fundamental role in nonmonotonic reasoning, logic programming and n-person games." Artificial Intelligence, 77: 321-357 (1995).
• Bondarenko, A., Dung, P. M., Kowalski, R., and Toni, F. , "An abstract, argumentation-theoretic approach to default reasoning", Artificial Intelligence 93(1-2) 63-101 (1997).
• Dung, P. M., Kowalski, R., and Toni, F. "Dialectic proof procedures for assumption-based, admissible argumentation." Artificial Intelligence. 170(2), 114-159 (2006).
• Frans van Eemeren, Rob Grootendorst, Sally Jackson, and Scott Jacobs, Reconstructing Argumentative Discourse 1993.
• Frans Van Eemeren & Rob Grootendorst. A systematic theory of argumentation. The pragma-dialected approach. 2004.
• Eemeren, F.H. van, Grootendorst, R. & Snoeck Henkemans, F. et al. (1996). Fundamentels of Argumentation Theory. A Handbook of Historical Backgrounds and Contemporary Developments. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
• Richard H. Gaskins Burdens of Proof in Modern Discourse. Yale University Press. 1993.
• Michael A. Gilbert Coalescent Argumentation 1997.
• Trudy Govier, Problems in Argument Analysis and Evaluation. 1987.
• Dale Hample. (1979). "Predicting belief and belief change using a cognitive theory of argument and evidence." Communication Monographs. 46, 142-146.
• Dale Hample. (1978). "Are attitudes arguable?" Journal of Value Inquiry. 12, 311-312.
• Dale Hample. (1978). "Predicting immediate belief change and adherence to argument claims." Communication Monographs, 45, 219-228.
• Dale Hample & Judy Hample. (1978). "Evidence credibility." Debate Issues. 12, 4-5.
• Dale Hample. (1977). "Testing a model of value argument and evidence." Communication Monographs. 14, 106-120.
• Dale Hample. (1977). "The Toulmin model and the syllogism." Journal of the American Forensic Association. 14, 1-9.
• Trudy Govier, A Practical Study of Argument2nd ed. 1988.
• Sally Jackson and Scott Jacobs, "Structure of Conversational Argument: Pragmatic Bases for the Enthymeme." The Quarterly Journal of Speech. LXVI, 251-265.
• Ralph. H. Johnson. Manifest Rationality: A Pragmatic Theory of Argument. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2000.
• Ralph H. Johnson and J. Anthony Blair. "Logical Self-Defense", IDEA, 2006. First published, McGraw Hill Ryerson, Toronto, ON, 1997, 1983, 1993. Reprinted, McGraw Hill, New York, NY, 1994.
• Ralph Johnson. and Blair, J. Anthony (1987), "The Current State of Informal Logic", Informal Logic, 9(2–3), 147–151.
• Ralph H. Johnson. H. (1996). The rise of informal logic. Newport News, VA: Vale Press
• Ralph H. Johnson. (1999). The relation between formal and informal logic. Argumentation, 13(3) 265-74.
• Ralph H. Johnson. & Blair, J. A. (1977). Logical self-defense. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson. US Edition. (2006). New York: Idebate Press.
• Ralph H. Johnson. & Blair, J. Anthony. (1987). The current state of informal logic. Informal Logic 9, 147-51.
• Ralph H. Johnson. & Blair, J. Anthony. (1996). Informal logic and critical thinking. In F. van Eemeren, R. Grootendorst, & F. Snoeck Henkemans (Eds.), Fundamentals of Argumentation Theory. (pp. 383–86). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
• Ralph H. Johnson, Ralph. H. & Blair, J. Anthony. (2000). "Informal logic: An overview." Informal Logic. 20(2): 93-99.
• Ralph H. Johnson, Ralph. H. & Blair, J. Anthony. (2002). Informal logic and the reconfiguration of logic. In D. Gabbay, R. H. Johnson, H.-J. Ohlbach and J. Woods (Eds.). Handbook of the logic of argument and inference: The turn towards the practical. (pp.339–396). Elsivier: North Holland.
• Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, The New Rhetoric, Notre Dame, 1970.
• Stephen Toulmin. The uses of argument. 1959.
• Stephen Toulmin. The Place of Reason in Ethics. 1964.
• Stephen Toulmin. Human Understanding: The Collective Use and Evolution of Concepts. 1972.
• Stephen Toulmin. Cosmopolis. 1993.
• Douglas N. Walton, The Place of Emotion in Argument. 1992.
• Joseph W. Wenzel 1990 Three perspectives on argumentation. In R Trapp and J Scheutz, (Eds.), Perspectives on argumentation: Essays in honour of Wayne Brockreide. 9-26 Waveland Press: Propsect Heights, IL
• John Woods. (1980). What is informal logic? In J.A. Blair & R. H. Johnson (Eds.), Informal Logic: The First International Symposium .(pp. 57–68). Point Reyes, CA: Edgepress.
• John Woods. (2000). How Philosophical is Informal Logic? Informal Logic. 20(2): 139-167. 2000
• Charles Arthur Willard Liberalism and the Problem of Knowledge: A New Rhetoric for Modern Democracy. University of Chicago Press. 1996.
• Charles Arthur Willard, A Theory of Argumentation. University of Alabama Press. 1989.
• Charles Arthur Willard, Argumentation and the Social Grounds of KnowledgeUniversity of Alabama Press. 1982.
• Harald Wohlrapp. Der Begriff des Arguments. Über die Beziehungen zwischen Wissen, Forschen, Glaube, Subjektivität und Vernunft. Würzburg: Königshausen u. Neumann, 2008 ISBN 978-3-8260-3820-4
 External links
Category:Philosophy of law
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