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Res Philosophica

Volume 101, Issue 2, April 2024
Habermas Special Issue

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Displaying: 1-11 of 11 documents


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1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 101 > Issue: 2
William Rehg, S.J.

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2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 101 > Issue: 2
Jürgen Habermas

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Soren Kierkegaard’s Lutheran existentialism represents a distinctively postmetaphysical philosophy of religion, focused in particular on a Christian vision of ethical authenticity. His philosophy continues to pose challenging questions for postmetaphysical philosophers in contemporary pluralistic settings. Focusing on specific works of Kierkegaard, this essay develops three such questions: (1) Can philosophy in a postmetaphysical vein still give advice for the pursuit of the good life, today’s diversity of life styles and values notwithstanding? (2) How can a postmetaphysical philosophy relate to the ethical teachings and truth claims of religious doctrines? (3) Is postmetaphysical philosophy still capable of an “upbuilding and awakening” discourse that can induce and stabilize an ethical self-consciousness?
3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 101 > Issue: 2
Michael Haiden Orcid-ID

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Jürgen Habermas has defended Germany’s cautious support for Ukraine against the ongoing Russian invasion. Instead of trying to defeat Russia on the battlefield, he argued that Western nations should seek a compromise with the attacker. Critics worried that this would lead to more suffering than the war, encourage further Russian aggression, and ignore the concerns of the Ukrainian population. However, one question that has not been addressed is if Habermas’s pleas are part of a wider pacifist commitment—and if so, what kind of pacifist he is. Examining Habermas’s writings on the Ukraine War, his cosmopolitan views and his idea of a “constitutionalization of international law,” I argue that Habermas can be called a political pacifist—someone who seeks to abolish the institutions that provide the ultimate causes of war. While one can still criticize his vision, it deserves to be taken seriously as a pacifist account.
4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 101 > Issue: 2
Igor Shoikhedbrod Orcid-ID

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Jürgen Habermas’s recent engagement with Marx in Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie has mostly gone unnoticed by commentators. Habermas is among the few representatives of the Frankfurt School who has consistently stressed the importance of the “Marxian heritage” for a rigorous understanding of critical theory. In this essay, I critically examine two guiding threads in Habermas’s ongoing reconstruction of historical materialism: the relationship between labor and interaction, as well as the emancipatory potential unleashed by the democratic constitutional state. I argue that Habermas’s reconstruction of historical materialism points to several lacunae in Marx’s work, but that it also reveals valuable insights into the latter’s oeuvre that have yet to be adequately addressed by Habermas. I conclude that it is time for Habermas to consciously reclaim the “Marxian heritage.”
5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 101 > Issue: 2
Fabian Freyenhagen Orcid-ID

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Would Habermas’s “The Entwinement of Myth and Enlightenment” pass muster as coursework in a class on Dialectic of Enlightenment? Using this polemical thought experiment setup as an estrangement device, I critically discuss Habermas’s essay that was pivotal in his repositioning of Critical Theory in the 1980s. I argue that it is philosophically and biographically unreflective; and that he is engaging in underhanded politicking. I sketch an alternative reading of Dialectic of Enlightenment: instead of viewing it as the dead end that Habermas presents it to be, we can see as a self-therapeutical exercise in destabilizing a complacent self-conception whereby modernity is the pinnacle of moral progress—an exercise which might have a certain exemplarity for others in the ongoing quest of making use of our own understanding. The contribution is rounded off with a postscript by a second assessor of Habermas’s essay, discussing both the proposed assessment and the polemical thought experiment.
6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 101 > Issue: 2
Connor Moran Orcid-ID

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This article argues that Habermas’s formal-pragmatics are better understood as a set of weak-universal dispositions susceptible to erosion over the course of a lifetime, if exposed to continual “disappointing” communicative experiences. Habermas’s rational-reconstructive project to explicate the intuitive rule-consciousness held by competent speakers retains immense theoretical value for analyzing both partisan and mass political discourse, if his emphasis on isolated speech situations is supplemented with a logic of communicative memory better accounting for how disagreement antecedes discourse on the formal-pragmatic register. I argue that Habermas’s concept of the “lifeworld” contains untapped theoretical resources for thinking about the formal-pragmatic consequences of accumulated partisan experiences; namely, how such experiences lead inter-partisan actors to jettison mutual imputations of communicative accountability. I conclude by offering revisions to Habermas’s discourse ethics. Rapport-building intended to alleviate the negative effects of prior accumulated partisan experiences is first necessary if a norm is to enjoy real justification.
7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 101 > Issue: 2
Glenn Mackin

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This article explores how people can come to experience constitutional conversations as meaningful. To this end, I reinterpret Habermas’s account of deliberative constitutionalism. For Habermas, constitutional discourses are not only rational procedures of opinion- and will-formation, but also sites at which a “world” gets generated. Deliberative politics, therefore, involves unruly and uncontrollable efforts to solicit others into the roles, orientations, and principles of constitutional practices. The result is a novel account of the relationship between constitutional procedures and the “anarchistic” politics that radical democrats celebrate. Ungovernable inventions of and affective identifications with roles, images, and peoples occur within articulate forms, including constitutional procedures. These aspects of Habermas’s thought push past binary oppositions between legitimate constitutional procedure and radical democratic uprisings. Habermas provides a framework for examining the forms of attentiveness by which actors can come to experience constitutional rules, roles, principles, and procedures as part of their world.
8. Res Philosophica: Volume > 101 > Issue: 2
John Davenport

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In opposing Stephen Douglas’s alleged popular right to choose a slave constitution, Abraham Lincoln developed a rudimentary conception of the normative presuppositions of democratic rights that prefigures the theory of popular sovereignty articulated by Jürgen Habermas. While Lincoln was influenced by a civic republican conception of natural rights, and referred to personal autonomy in arguing that some political choices violate the grounds of collective self-governance rights, both Lincoln—as read by Jaffa—and Habermas conceive human rights not as trans-political principles but as linking moral norms with the rule of law (or coordination through political power in general). The comparison shows that Habermas’s approach to the co-originality of civil liberties and democratic rights implies that legitimate secession, revolution, and primary constituent authority must be oriented toward creation of a just legal order. This enriched linkage approach explains why the right to democracy, like the right to basic liberty, is inalienable.
9. Res Philosophica: Volume > 101 > Issue: 2
Cristina Lafont

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In his book The Future of Human Nature, Habermas argues against the moral and legal permissibility of any future practices of genetic human enhancement as well as against current practices such as embryonic research or preimplantation genetic diagnosis. After analyzing the core of Habermas’s argument against positive eugenics, I argue that his attempt to derive a principle of abstention under uncertainty from the principle of counterfactual consent assumes that non-interference is the proper default norm in the absence of consent. Yet, this cannot be a plausible default norm for parental relationships. Moreover, since Habermas agrees that the no-harm principle justifies negative eugenics, once technical possibilities of genetic manipulation become available, non-interference becomes as much in need of normative justification as interference. I conclude that if our normative innocence regarding positive eugenics must be lost for the sake of negative eugenics, then it is an innocence well lost.
10. Res Philosophica: Volume > 101 > Issue: 2
Carlos José Sánchez Corrales Orcid-ID

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Habermas’s translation proviso aims to legitimize religious argumentation in the informal part of the public sphere while requiring religious citizens to express their arguments in the formal part of the public sphere using a universal (secular) language. By considering secular scholars Gonzalo Scivoletto’s and Javier Aguirre’s critiques of the meaning of “translation,” this article highlights the inconsistency of the proviso as manifested in its application to the religious concept of tzimtzum (“divine contraction”), from which Habermas attempts to extract a secular worldview and moral intuitions that contradict the beliefs of religious citizens, thus undermining the reassessment of religion in the public sphere.
11. Res Philosophica: Volume > 101 > Issue: 2
Amos Nascimento

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In Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie (Also a History of Philosophy), Jürgen Habermas weaves together various themes such as faith and knowledge, history and theology, naturalism and epistemic justification, learning processes and moral development as well as multiculturalism and deliberative democracy in a transnational public sphere. This article argues that to articulate these multiple elements, Habermas adopts a robust framework built upon four conceptual pillars that can be clearly identified: postmetaphysical, postconventional, postnational, and postsecular. This “conceptual plurality” underlies his genealogy of the centuries-long tension and mutual learning between religious faith and scientific knowledge in the Western philosophical tradition. By considering the interplay of these concepts, it is possible to understand the several ways in which religion emerges in contemporary society and the equally multiple strategies Habermas uses to interpret religion throughout his career, which are masterfully reconsidered and articulated in his opus magnum on religion.