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Pluralizing Universal "Man": The Legacy of Transcendentalism and Teleology in Habermas's Discourse Ethics

Stella Gaon
The Review of Politics
Vol. 60, No. 4 (Autumn, 1998), pp. 685-718
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1408257
Page Count: 34
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Pluralizing Universal "Man": The Legacy of Transcendentalism and Teleology in Habermas's Discourse Ethics
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Abstract

The central claim of this article is that Habermas's program of discourse ethics fails to "detranscendentalize" the Enlightenment subject. On the contrary, tacit assumptions concerning a transcendental conception of reason and a subject that is teleologically predisposed toward its rightful end are the logical pillars of Habermas's two most crucial claims. First, unless Habermas presupposes an abstract and decidedly unencumbered moral discussant, he cannot maintain his claim concerning the rationality-and hence the unconditionality-of the moral principle he describes. Secondly, unless Habermas begs the question of the proper end of individual and collective development, he fails to support the claim that discourse ethics speaks to the emphatic dimension of moral reason. Thus Habermas's formulation of discourse ethics does not overcome Enlightenment metaphysics; rather, its force depends upon the pluralization of universal "Man."

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