Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York
 


Discourse Ethics

PHIL 6630 - Discourse Ethics
Jeff Flynn
Spring 2013 - Friday 1:30-3:30 PM

This seminar will focus on Jürgen Habermas's "discourse ethics," beginning with his earliest attempts to develop a moral theory by using pragmatic analysis of moral argumentation. We will trace a number of developments in his thought, such as his distinction between ethical and moral discourse and his application of discourse theory to law, democracy, and basic rights. We will also engage central debates between Habermas and his critics on issues such as whether the discourse theory of morality is a realist or a constructivist theory and how to think about the relation between the right and the good. We will conclude by reading attempts to develop a discourse theory of human rights.  In addition to essays by Habermas, we will also read texts by Karl-Otto Apel, Albrecht Wellmer, Charles Taylor, Seyla Benhabib, Hilary Putnam, Cristina Lafont, and Rainer Forst.
 
Core readings by Habermas will include:
 
Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action (MIT 1990).
Justification and Application: Remarks on Discourse Ethics (MIT 1993).
Between Facts & Norms (MIT 1995):
Ch. 3, “A Reconstructive Approach to Law: The System of Rights”
The Inclusion of the Other (MIT 1998):
Ch. 1, “A Genealogical Analysis of the Cognitive Content of Morality”
Truth and Justification (MIT 2003):
            Ch. 5, “Norms and Values: On Hilary Putnam’s Kantian Pragmatism”
Ch. 6, “Rightness versus Truth: On the Sense of Normative Validity in Moral Judgments and Norms”
Between Naturalism and Religion (Polity 2008):
Ch. 3, “On the Architectonics of Discursive Differentiation”
 
Readings by others will include:
 
Karl-Otto Apel, “The a priori of the communication community and the foundations of ethics,” Towards a Transformation of Philosophy (Routledge 1980).
Albrecht Wellmer, “Ethics and Dialogue: Elements of Moral Judgment in Kant and Discourse Ethics,” The Persistence of Modernity (MIT 1991).
Charles Taylor, “The Motivation behind a Procedural Ethics” in R. Beiner, ed., Kant and Political Philosophy (Yale 1993).
William Rehg, Insight & Solidarity: The Discourse Ethics of Jürgen Habermas (California 1994), selections.
Joseph Heath, Communicative Action and Rational Choice (MIT 2001), selections.
Hilary Putnam, “Values and Norms,” The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy (Harvard 2002).
Cristina Lafont, “Rational Acceptability and Moral Rightness” in The Linguistic Turn in Hermeneutic Philosophy (MIT 1999).
Seyla Benhabib, Situating the Self (Routledge 1992) and Dignity in Adversity: Human Rights in Troubles Times (Polity 2011), selections.
Rainer Forst, The Right to Justification (Columbia 2012), selections.

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