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HabermasThe Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy$
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Hugh Baxter

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780804769129

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804769129.001.0001

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Basic Concepts in Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action

Basic Concepts in Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action

(p.9) Chapter One Basic Concepts in Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action
Stanford University Press

In his Theory of Communicative Action, Jürgen Habermas proposes a theory of “communicative action” and sets it within a concept of society he calls “lifeworld.” In both his Theory of Communicative Action and later in Between Facts and Norms, Habermas describes the “lifeworld” as the basic conception of society, to be amended or supplemented only for cause. In addition, Habermas argues that in the course of social evolution, systems of economic and political action arise whereby action is coordinated by the consequences of self-interested action, rather than consensual understanding. This chapter explores Habermas's idea of such “systems” based on his reading of Talcott Parsons. It also examines how Habermas integrates the lifeworld and system concepts into his model of system/lifeworld interchange. It argues that the critical model developed by Habermas in Theory of Communicative Action is more functionalist than straightforwardly normative.

Keywords:   Theory of Communicative Action, Jürgen Habermas, communicative action, lifeworld, society, Between Facts and Norms, Talcott Parsons, social evolution, economic action

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