File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2000/habermas.0002, message 1

Subject: RE: HAB: Habermas, realism, and Lafont
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 08:34:44 -0500

I think it is quite clear that Habermas does not think and in fact explictly
argues that biological anthropology, while advancing legitimate claims, does
not adequately deal the cultural aspect of interests and with the
constructive character of justice and the claims of justice. It does not
suffice that there are some general biological interests, but these have to
be convincing interpreted and argued in moral discourse that takes into
account the self and world undersanding of the other. To carry out that
argument would be entail  more than I can suggest in an e-mail before I run
off to class.  Francis

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Gary
Sent: Monday, January 31, 2000 2:59 AM
Subject: Re: HAB: Habermas, realism, and Lafont

In any case, it's the issue that matters.

On the one hand, if Lafont's argument is validly motivated--that there are
antirealist assumptions implied by Habermas's formal pragmatics--then one
expect Habermas to take issue with this. And, inasmuch as there may be a
issue at stake, a resolution to it might appear invalid to Habermas. That he
takes issue with her argument is not itself an argument, of course (rather:
contest of her claims). I would like to know more about his objection, which
can be useful for assessing her recent arguments.

On the other hand, it would be invalid to assimilate practical discourses to
theoretical discourses, and readers will assess this for themselves from her
arguments. I haven't looked at her details yet. One could feel that it's
facie implausible that a concern with realism vs. antirealism is relevant to
the validity claim of 'moral rightness', but this would be contrary to
of the past decade in anthropology, regarding evolutionary explanations of
altruism, which presumes that the concern is cogent. To say, if indeed
does, that a concern with this of itself assimilates practical to
discourse might just mean that Habermas takes sides in a theoretical
against the claims of the biological anthropologists and for the claims of
cultural anthropologists.

In any case, there is the question of what Habermas means by "innate" when
asserts, in _TCA_ at least, that our communicative "form of life" evolves
a "biological" background. There is much to be said from recent research in
evolution of language that gives real entailments and implications to this
anthropological commonplace. In his Meadian understanding of individuation
(which is contrary to a cognitivst approach to role competence), Habermas
relies on research that is contested other researchers--a normal state of
affairs, but certainly a "theoretical" issue about the bases of practices.
There are innatist aspects of his formal pragmatics which suggest a
instinct" (Pinker), and evolutionary linguists have much to say about this.

So, it's not prima facie implausible that one would dwell theoretically with
the real implications of a practical THEORY.

Anyway, much to consider....

Best regards,

Gary Davis


FFiorenza wrote:

> I am not sure about that.  Though he had in previous essays in the book
> referred to her German book, in the eessay I referred to he refers to an
> 1997 Pluralism and Universalism in Discourse Ethics article that she
> (I don't know to what extent this is included in the English version of
> book.) His own essay Richtigkeit versus Wahrheit I believe was originally
> published in 1999 in DZfPh and perhaps too late for the English edition of
> her book. Since I have the German and not English version, I do know
> she has taken this essay into account.   Francis
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of Gary
> Davis
> Sent: Saturday, January 29, 2000 9:07 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: HAB: Habermas, realism, and Lafont
> Interesting. Thank you very much for this.
> However, inasmuch as Lafont's argument is made only in the English
> edition--which adds an entire part to the text that has been
> has presumably had much opportunity to "test" her argument with Habermas
> Northwestern, I would imagine that his objections are part of the
> to
> her argument in the recent MIT book. No?
> FFiorenza wrote:
> > With reference to the contributions of Gary and Martin,
> >
> > I have recently been reading Habermas's recent collection  Wahrheit und
> > Rechtfertigung.  In the final essay, section vii (though there are
> scattered
> > references throughout the collection), Habermas takes issue with
> > interpretation of the cognitive claim of discourse ethics (and
> consequently
> > of Habermas's own postion) insofor as she assimilates practical
> > to empirical and theoretical discourse. He argues against her for the
> > specific constructive character and epistemic role of practical
> > In his view she ontologizes the domain of generalizable interests in
> > to argue for such an assimilation.
> >
> > Francis Schussler Fiorenza
> > Harvard University
> >
> >      --- from list ---
>      --- from list ---
>      --- from list ---

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