Habermas and the Project of Immanent Critique

Constellations 20 (4):533-552 (2013)
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According to Jürgen Habermas, his Theory of Communicative Action offers a new account of the normative foundations of critical theory. Habermas’ motivating insight is that neither a transcendental nor a metaphysical solution to the problem of normativity, nor a merely hermeneutic reconstruction of historically given norms, is sufficient to clarify the normative foundations of critical theory. In response to this insight, Habermas develops a novel account of normativity, which locates the normative demands of critical theory within the socially instituted practice of communicative understanding. Although Habermas has claimed otherwise, this new foundation for critical theory constitutes a novel and innovative form of “immanent critique.” To argue for and to clarify this claim, I offer, in section 1, a formal account of immanent critique and distinguish between two different ways of carrying out such a critique.
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