File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2000/habermas.0007, message 30

Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 18:29:17 -0700
Subject: HAB: some obscure metaethics

>From: Antti M Kauppinen <>
>Subject: Re: HAB: #2: Autonomy as dogma
>Date: Sun, 23 Jul 100 02:29:06 +0300 (EETDST)
>> Dear list members;
>> I have yet another question. I remember having read, somewhere in 
>> french, Habermas saying that individual autonomy was for him the 
>> ultimate, or perhaps the only, dogma ("un dogme"). 
>I don't know the interview you are referring to, but in the light of the
>last paragraph of BFN it is not surprising:
>"Certainly this understanding [of changing legal paradigms], like the 
>rule of law itself, retains a dogmatic core: the idea of autonomy according
>to which human beings act as free subjects only insofar as they obey just
>those laws they give themselves in accordance with insights they have acquired
>intersubjectively. This is "dogmatic" only in a harmless sense. It
>expresses a tension between facticity and validity, a tension that is
>"given" with the fact of the symbolic infrastructure of sociocultural
>forms of life, which is to say that _for us_, who have developed our
>identity in such a form of life, it cannot be circumvented." (BFN,
>I'd like to reflect aloud a bit on this. No doubt the following will be
>familiar to most of the list members, so feel free to skip it.
>As I see it, both the importance of autonomy and "dogmatism" about it 
>clearly stem from Kant. There are two issues involved: whether we are in fact
>autonomous and whether we should be (whether autonomy is a value to be
>promoted). The Kantian strategy is to argue that we cannot prove that we
>are free (and so autonomous), but all the while we cannot help
>conceiving ourselves as such. What we believe without evidence is
>dogmatic, even if the belief is in fact necessary. Habermas is not
>interested in the metaphysical issues of free will, but in the practical
>issue of the value of autonomy. Or rather, his interest is in
>investigating the conditions for exercising autonomy. For both
>individual and communal autonomy these conditions turn out to be
>discursive and hence intersubjective - unlike for atomists, it is in principle
>impossible for a solitary subject (if there were such a thing) to be
>autonomous. On the question of whether it is a good thing to exercise
>autonomy Habermas chooses to remain dogmatic. There is no knock-down
>argument proceeding from non-moral facts nor from more fundamental moral
>values to the value of autonomy. (As to the latter, Kantian anti-realism
>takes other moral values to rest ultimately on rational autonomy - what
>is truly valuable is what would be valued by rational subjects.
>Conceived in this manner, values can be objective without belonging
>ontologically to the objective world.) Nonetheless, as beings whose
>identity is constituted and maintained in and through communicative
>action, we cannot help valuing autonomy at least implicitly. For
>example, raising validity claims - which we'll have to do if we are to
>mean anything by our words - implies the recognition that the addressee
>of the speech act may rationally reject it, and thus the recognition of
>the other's autonomy in contrast to mine, just as implicitly undertaking the
>responsibility of redeeming the validity claims implies my own autonomy
>as a person capable of providing reasons for my words and actions. In
>such a manner treating each other as autonomous, that is, as beings
>capable of acting on basis of good reasons, is woven into human forms of
>life. Since we in fact do not always a) know what are good reasons or b)
>act on the basis of them even if we know, there exists a tension between
>the mutual autonomy and rationality necessarily assumed in communicative
>action and our factual heteronomous irrationality.
>I don't know if that makes sense. I've sometimes toyed with the idea of
>dubbing the practice of treating the other as (discursively) autonomous
>as "communicative stance" by analogy to Dennett's "intentional stance".
>I need to adopt an intentional stance to _predict and explain_ the
>other's behaviour; but, I would argue, it is not enough if I wish to
>_reach an understanding_ with the other - that requires adopting the
>communicative stance. The other is no longer an opaque object standing
>over against me, but a cohabitant of a shared, linguistically disclosed world.
>Sorry for rambling,
>     --- from list ---


     --- from list ---


Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005