Communicative Justice as an Ideal Speech Situation: Habermas’s Discursive Analysis of Communicative Rationality

By:
Dr. Hsin-I Liu
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As Habermas boldly claims, there is a general theoretical lack of democracy in Marxism in which bourgeois democracy has never been treated either fairly or seriously. Political-legal legitimacy, unlike in Marxist arguments, is not based as much on class domination as on deliberation and argument. Bourgeois democracy is discourse-centered and institutionalized around the general conditions of communication for a discursive formation of will rather than around the exploitation of workers by capitalists. Habermas aims to establish a Marxist social theory that focuses on evolution of communication rather than revolution of production, and inter-subjective legitimacy rather than objective administration. With regard to the economic and technical domination in late capitalism, his solution is to theoretically and historically look for an intermediate sphere of public communication between such domination and individuals, and between social system and life-world.

Habermas’s latest dedication to the issue of communicative rationality can be viewed as his lifelong effort to re-construct this mediating sphere, in which, he believes, an ideal speech situation--communicative justice--may be established. Facing the impossibility of publicness in mass-mediated communication, Habermas continues his search for the possibility of rationality outside power relations and explores where this kind of rationality may lie by moving into an analysis of communication in bourgeois democracy. To understand his theory of communication, one must realize Habermas’s re-conceptualization of rationality within the tradition of Frankfurt School critical theory--how he redefines and enlarges the concept of reason, aiming to transcend the black writer, Adorno’s dark forces of rationality. In contrast to his mentor’s view, the purpose of communication is, in Habermas’s mind, no longer to overcome the isolation of the subjective from the objective or appeal to its reunification, but to maintain the inter-personal negotiation of individually fragmented expressions of truth and justice, and to legitimize the objective representations of personal truthfulness and righteousness.


Keywords: Communication, Habermas and Justice
Stream: Media and Communications
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Hsin-I Liu

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Arts, University of the Incarnate Word
San Antonio, TX, USA

Hsin-I Liu grew up in Taiwan and received his Ph.D. in Communication
Studies from the University of Iowa. His research interests include
critical social theory, cultural studies, and philosophy of
communication. He has received grants from the East-West Center in
Hawaii, the International Association for Aesthetics, and the
University of Iowa Graduate College. He taught at the University of
Iowa and the Open University of Hong Kong, and is currently an
assistant professor of communication arts at the University of the
Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.

Ref: I06P0274