Your Question: Habermas and Factions
Friday, June 30, 2017 -- 10:53 AM
Laura Maguire
We know the vast majority of our listeners don't get to hear the live broadcast of our show, which is usually Sunday mornings from the studios of KALW in San Francisco. Even listeners in the Bay Area often hear the KALW rebroadcast, Tuesdays at noon. But we know you often have questions about what you're hearing, so we decided to start a series called "Your Question" here on the blog. If you have a question after the live broadcast, you can still participate in the conversation. 
 
This week's show was on the German philosopher and critical theorist Habermas and his vision of democracy. A longtime listener, John in Berkeley, emailed us at comments@philosophytalk.org with the following question:
 
Does Habermas believe that factions are good because of the authenticity of their rationally discursive sources but bad because real discourse is limited by interfactional communication prohibition?
 
Excellent question, John! We had no idea how to answer, so we posed the question to our guest, Matthew Specter, author of Habermas: An Intellectual Biography. Here's his answer to John's question:
 
"Faction" is not a vocabulary word one finds in Habermas; it is more of an 18th century locution. But the problem of faction can be approached through the treatment of partisanship or hyperpartisanship in Habermas. In his theory, Habermas suggests that artificial distorting barriers to communication were removed we can approximate the ideal of relatively disinterested contemplation of the good of the whole by all those affected by the policies under debate. But in practice, Habermas has himself been a partisan for social policies that he believes are necessary to create the solidarity necessary for a well-functioning public sphere. So in that sense, he is a member of a progressive faction, left of Social Democracy, not identical with any party, but often allied with parties. At the same time, he would be critical of undemocratic party structures or leaders who seem to prize expediency over vision, opportunism over substantive goals. Deliberative democratic theory since Habermas has been more open to finding ways to include the interests of different factions in different goals within an overall deliberative model. The initial idealizations of deliberative theory have been thought to have overreached plausibility.
 
Thanks, Matthew! Very informative answer.
 
If you're listening to a show and have a question you'd like answered, send us an email at comments@philosophytalk.org. We might just publish Your Question here, along with an answer from one of our in-house philosophers, or from the guest on the show.

Comments (1)


Kant

Saturday, July 1, 2017 -- 9:22 AM

Personally, I preferer

Personally, I preferer Rational Theology of Kant, since it can study all civilizations, not just our roman one. Here I am starting a web site about it: https://kant.site
Meaning, we can discuss in broader terms than our current system.

 
 
 

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