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communicative rationality

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


P hilosophy of language, ethics Habermas 's term for the rationality that is implicitly contained in the structure of human speech and shared by all competent speakers. Standard accounts of rationality represent it as involving one-dimensional logical relations between propositions and as centered in the thought and action of individual subjects. In contrast, communicative rationality is two-dimensional and involves a dialogical relationship between different speakers. The traditional conception of rationality is represented in the paradigm of our knowledge of objects, while communicative rationality is expressed in the paradigm of mutual understanding between subjects who are capable of speech and action and in an understanding of the world that is decentered away from the individual subject. It is the life-world rationality, dealing with the intersubjectivity of valid claims. Its sphere of validity corresponds to the sphere of human speech.For Habermas, the notion of communicative rationality is the basis for communicative action. He calls the process by which communicative action replaces strategic action communicative rationalization. “This communicative rationality recalls older ideas of logos, inasmuch as it brings along with it the connotations of a noncoercively unifying, consensus-building force of a discourse in which the participants overcome their at first subjectively ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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