- Series: Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought
- Paperback: 675 pages
- Publisher: The MIT Press; Reprint edition (January 9, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0262581620
- ISBN-13: 978-0262581622
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.5 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #815,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought) Reprint Edition
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Jurgen Habermas, an esteemed political philosopher who lived in Germany during the Nazi reign, has produced a thought-provoking work on what he calls "deliberative politics." To summarize his view, true democracy isn't just the compilation of opinions or a blanket treatment of majority rules, but a social process in which people meet, discuss, modify and, ultimately, agree. He draws connections between how such a process could shape the making of laws and direct the course of nations. His writings here represent a lifetime of political thought on the nature of democracy and law, and deserve an audience and a place in the foundations of democratic theory. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
[A] fascinating synthesis of Continental and Anglo-American legal theory...full of interesting insights, acute criticisms, and striking passages.(Richard A. Posner The New Republic)
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Habermas model is not, therefore, a radical departure from what we know nowadays as a "democratic system". However, most existing democracies lack the conditions for an unconstrained opinion formation in the public sphere due to ideological manipulation,as Habermas points out. Thus, democratic institutions do not guarantee an authentic democracy. As much as Habermas see institutions to be fundamental to democracy, the improvement of the democratic system cannot come from within the institutionalized system. Institutions can stabilize democracy, but are not meant to change society. According to Habermas, only communication action is able to lead us out of our current political predicament.
What, exactly, does that even mean? Habermas is apparently talking about the Fregean distinction between thoughts and representations that he has just outlined as the foundation of the "linguistic turn." All fine and good. But then there's the unusual word choice of "moments." That's philosopher-ese and means something like "aspect" or "factor" (a bit of jargon that I've never personally seen much use for. Just say aspect if you mean aspect).The word choice is unsettling even for someone who is versed in the jargon because in this context, a discussion of the history of the linguistic turn in the philosophy of mind, makes the word unecessarily vague. Occurring as it does at the beginning of a sentence, immediately followed by an extended explicatory aside, it might just as easily mean the more usual definition of moment: a point in time. This, combined with the disconnect of the subject of this sentence with its predicate makes everything all the more confusing. And speaking of that predicate, what Habermas/Rehg have to say about those "moments" is that they "can only be described in such a way that linguistic expressions have identical meanings for different users." Care to count with me the unecessary words in that clause?
I think what it means is something like the following sentence:
Both aspects of a thought--1,) it is shared beyond a single consciousness and 2.) it is independent of any single person's experience--require that different single utterances still mean the same thing to all speakers.
I submit that my reformulation expresses the same idea, and does so without unecessary grammatical acrobatics on the part of the reader. The book is frankly chock full of this sort of tortured prose.
So while this is important stuff, and truly essential reading for all people with a serious interest in legal theory, political science, moral theory, and the current state of postmetaphysical pragmatism, brace yourself. Because reading it really is like being stretched on the rack at times, and for no good reason other than the lack of a good copy-editor.
Most recent customer reviews
Habermas in this book is very German.Read more