The Debate Between Rawls and Habermas Analytical Essay by devilsdelusion

The Debate Between Rawls and Habermas
A discussion of the debate between John Rawls and Jurgen Habermas regarding the incompatibility of different comprehensive doctrines.
# 113871 | 1,936 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2009 | CA
Published on May 17, 2009 in Philosophy (Religion) , Philosophy (Ethics)

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This paper provides a brief overview and discussion of the debate between John Rawls and Jurgen Habermas. The writer describes the context of the debate and the problem that sparked it, and explains key elements of Rawls' theory, Habermas's criticism of Rawls, and key elements of Habermas' theory. Some of their significant differences are explored, as, for example, where Rawls universalizes the principles of public reason (overlapping consensus), Habermas universalizes the principles of rational discourse (ethics of discourse). The writer contends that both theories are significant for theological ethics, since both strive to reach some sort of agreement leading to fairness and equality of people of distinct comprehensive doctrine.

From the Paper:

"The main problem that is before us is one of a reassessment of the foundations of modernity. The two world wars which caused unparalleled numbers of deaths and, in particular that of WWII with its unprecedented atrocities and crimes against humanity, seem to provide evidence or proof for something that could be in put in place to prevent wars that could no longer solely be blamed on religion or class struggles. The fundamental question at stake was whether the great confidence in reason and science (technology) has been perhaps overemphasized and was not a reliable means to ensure a peaceful existence for humanity amongst our vast differences. Both Rawls and Habermas are looking at the same problem and both start at the same point, namely the incompatibility of different comprehensive doctrines."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Habermas, Jurgen. "Reconciliation Through the Public Use of Reason: Remarks on John Rawls's Political Liberalism." The Journal of Philosophy 92 (no. 3, March 1995): 109-131.
  • Rawls, John. "The idea of Public Reason." In Political Liberalism, 212-254. New York: Colombia University Press, 1996.

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