The philosophical programme associated with the discourse ethics of Jürgen Habermas has been widely discussed in the literature. The fact that Habermas has devoted a considerable part of his work to the elaboration of this philosophical programme indicates that discourse ethics can be regarded as a cornerstone of his communication-theoretic approach to society. In essence, Habermas conceives of discourse ethics as a philosophical framework which derives the coordinative power of social normativity from the discursive power of communicative rationality. Although there is an extensive literature on Habermas’s communication-theoretic account of society, almost no attention has been paid to the fact that the theoretical framework which undergirds his discourse ethics is based on a number of binary conceptual divisions. It is the purpose of this paper to shed light on the philosophical significance of these binary categories in Habermas’s discourse ethics and thereby demonstrate that their complexity is indicative of the subject’s tension-laden immersion in social reality
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