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Jürgen Habermas: Morality, Society and Ethics: An Interview with Torben Hviid Nielsen Author(s): Torben Hviid

Jürgen Habermas: Morality, Society and Ethics: An Interview with Torben Hviid Nielsen Author(s): Torben Hviid Nielsen and Jürgen Habermas Source: Acta Sociologica, Vol. 33, No. 2 (1990), pp. 93-114 Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.

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Acta Sociologica 1990 (33), 2:93-114

Jurgen Habermas: Morality, Society and


An interviewwith Torben Hviid Nielsen

Jurgen Habermas.J. W. Goethe-Universitdt,Dantestrasse4-6, Postfach111932, D-6000, Frankfurtam Main11, BRD; TorbenHviid Nielsen, RoskildeUniversitetscenter,Postboks 260, DK-4000,Roskilde,Denmark.

T.H.N.: The maintopicwill be yourthoughtson moralityandethics, in particular as they have developedsincethe publicationof your Theoriedes kommunikativen Handelnin 1981(Englishversion:TheTheoryof CommunicativeAction, hereafter TCA, 1984(vol. I) and 1988(vol. II)). In partI we willconcentrateon the formal, non-substantial,concept of moralityin your 'discourseethics'- in particularthe limitationto 'justice'as the telos or object, andthe relationbetween'justice','law' and 'care'.PartII concernsthe linguisticor universal-pragmaticargumentationfor the discourseethics.The focushere is on the truthof norms,the statusof the ideal speech situation,and the demarcationand separationfromdemocraticprocedure. InpartIIIwe willdealwithmoralityandethicsin relationto 'lifeworld'and'system' in yourtwo-levelconceptof societyin TCA, andwiththe mediationfrommorality to society and ethics - especiallyyour discussionsof 'pragmaticethic', 'practical reason'and 'choice'as attemptsto graspthis mediation.

T.H.N.: How shouldwe understandthe developmentfromthe sociologicalcritique of the pathologiesof modernityin TCAto the philosophicalmoralityand ethics in Moralbewusstseinund kommunikativesHandeln (MkH) (1983) and a succeeding series of articlesand lectures?Can the discourseethics be seen as an individual, 'philosophical',answerto the unsolved'sociological'questionof the proper, non- pathologicalrelationbetween system and lifeworldin modernity?Why have you, since 1981, concentratedmore on questions of philosophicalmoralityand ethics than on the open question of the properreiation between system and lifeworld, whichwas left over from TCA? J.H.: I see thisdifferently.Whatwasof primaryimportanceforthe philosophical basis of the TCAwas the speech-pragmaticintroductionof the concept of com- municativerationality.FollowingWeberand DurkheimI did, it is true, go into the

* The topicsandthe outlineof the interviewwere discussedat the Universityof California, Berkeley in the autumnof 1988, and the questionswere answeredin written form from Frankfurtam Mainin the autumnof 1989.The interviewerthanksWolfgangSchluchterfor discussionsduringpreparationsfor the interview.


questionof legal andmoraldevelopment;butthe two theoreticalapproachesI built upon in my discussion, discourseethics and Kohlberg'sTheory of the Stages of MoralConsciousness,did not receiveanyspecialemphasisat the time. Onlyin the subsequentyears did I work up the mattersI had left lying. The title of my essay on 'MoralConsciousnessand CommunicativeAction' datesbackto mytime at the StarnbergInstitute, and to the kind of researchgenerallyundertakenthere. My essay on discourseethics came out of seminarsI held directlyafter my returnto Frankfurt,in other words, in a philosophydepartment.Since 1983 1 have been workingin a differentprofessionalcontext; and this also influencesthe particular emphasisof one's research. The concern with moral-theoreticalquestions picks up a numberof problems which I had alreadydiscussedin 1973in the finalpartof 'LegitimationCrisis'.At that time I suggested a model of 'suppressedgeneralizableinterests'in order to showthe sensein whichit is possibleto distinguishbetween'general'and'particular' interests. Subsequently,in the TCAI did not returnto this; rather,as you rightly recall, I tried to describe social pathologiesby means of a two-level concept of society;that is, as deformationswhicharisefromdistortionsin the reproductionof the lifeworld(Vol. 2:142 ff.). In this context my particularinterestwas in pathologieswhicharisewhencritical imbalancesin systemseitherof the state apparatusor of the economyaredisplaced onto the lifeworld and intervene in the latter's reproduction(Vol. 2:385 ff.). Had I wanted to analyse more closely this phenomenon of the reificationof communicativerelationshipsthroughmonetarizationand bureaucratization- the phenomenon referredto by Marxwith the generalterm of 'alienation'- moral- theoreticalconsiderationswould have been out of place. Rather, the description of suchphenomenawouldhavenecessitateda morecarefuldefinitionof theconcept of systematicallydistortedcommunication.I consideredthis - on the basisof the empiricalresearchon pathologieswithinthefamily- asthe interpersonalequivalent of those intrapsychicaldisturbanceswhich in psychoanalysisare attributedto the unconscious avoidance of conflict and explained as correspondingdefence mechanisms.Butsince1974I havenotreturnedto thesethoughtson communication pathologiesarisingon the level of simpleinteraction.I stillconsidermysuggestions relevant, and findconfirmationof this in the interestingworkof JimBohmanand MartinLow-Beer. T.H.N.: The discourseethics is presentedand arguedboth as the continuation or completionof yourown earlier,theoreticaloccupationwithethicsandas a reply

and answerto the political agenda and the

you experienceda tension betweenthe two, i.e.

partlyof questionsposed in the 1960s,and the publicagendaof the 1980s?More specifically:has the agenda of the 1980s contributedto your apparentshift of emphasisfrom a social ('Hegelian')ethics to an individual('Kantian')morality? J.H.: Actually,myresearchprogrammehasremainedthe samesinceabout1970, since my discussionat that time of formalpragmaticsand of a discoursetheoryof truthwhichI firstpresentedin the Christian-Gausslectures.Of course,anybodyat all sensitive to politics, includingthe politicalimpactof theories, is boundto react to new contexts. In the 1960sone had to tackle the theoriesof technocracyof the one side; in the 1970s the crisis theories of the other. And since the mid-1970sI

publicdiscussionsin the 1980s.Have

yourown theoreticaldevelopment


felt the pressureof both the neo-conservativeandthe post-structuralistcritiquesof

reason- my responseto this was the concept of communicativerationality.This particularconstellationcontinuedinto the 1980s,and it was for this reasonthat I

continuedto which I lent

Moderne('The PhilosophicalDiscourseof Modernity')it wasmy intentionto show that 'vorstellendeDenken' can be replacedby somethingother thanthe defeatism of the deconstructivistsor the contextualismof the neo-Aristotelians. It was in the context of this intersubjectivistself-criticismof reasonthat I then also reactedto the not altogetherunsuspiciouspopularityenjoyedby philosophical ethics today and went on to elaborate the issues which, followingMead's Com- municationsEthics,I hadalwaysbeen interestedin (Vol. 2:92ff.). Discourseethics, like Mead'swork, thereforefollows on from a numberof the intuitionscontained in Kantianmoraltheorywithoutadoptingthe latter'sindividualisticpremises. T.H.N.: The discourseethicsis an ethicsof andfor modernity- as TCAandDer PhilosophischeDiskursder Moderne(1985) are defendantsof the Enlightenment and modernityagainst the old traditionalismand the new post-modernityand obscurity.Virtuesare, both to you and to one of your mainopponents, the neo- aristotelian,A. Maclntyre(AfterVirtue,1980),incompatiblewithmodernity.Why and how is it that all the traditional,substantialmoralitieshave become obsolete and incompatiblewith the conditionsof modernity? J.H.: Inmyopinion,AfterVirtuehastwoprincipalweaknesses.Firstly,Macintyre makes things too easy for himself in his critiqueby choosing in A. Gewirthan untypicaland rathereasy-to-criticizeexampleof a universalisticpositioninsteadof lookingat Rawlsor Dworkinor Apel. Andsecondly,hisrecourseto the Aristotelian conceptof praxisgets him into problemsas soon as he triesto extracta universal corefromthe inevitablepluralismcharacteristicof modernitywhichacceptsvarious equallylegitimateformsof life. Wheredoes he findthe equivalentof whatAristotle could still assume;in other words, what is Maclntyre'ssubstitutefor the meta- physicalcharacterizationof the polis as the exemplaryformof life in whichpeople, all those, thatis, who do not remainbarbarians,were supposedto realizethe telos of a good life? Because in modemity you cannot philosophicallyprejudge the multitudeof individuallife-projectsand collective formsof life, and becausethe wayto liveis givenoverto becomethesoleresponsibilityof thesocializedindividuals themselvesand has to be judgedfrom the perspectiveof the participants,what is able to convinceeveryoneis reducedto the procedureof rationalwill formation. T.H.N.: The discourseethics is in two waysa narrowor minimalunderstanding of ethics. It is deontological,cognitivistic,formalisticand universalisticin form. And it is constrictedto justiceas the only telos or object. Thustraditionalgoals of ethicsas thegood or happiness(or a combinationof the three) are excluded.Why this limitationto 'justice'as the one and only goal of ethics, and do you regardit as a necessaryfeatureof all modernethics? J.H.: Given modernconditionsof life, none of the variousrivaltraditionsis any longerprimafaciebinding.Also in practicalrelevantquestionsconvincingreasons can no longerbe basedon the authorityof unquestionedtraditions.And if we do not want to decide normativequestionsin the basic matterof our living-together by open or covert force, by coercion, influenceor by allowingthe might of the

work on a critiqueof the philosophyof greater philosophicalprecision. In Der

consciousness,a critiqueto PhilosophischeDiskurs der


strongerinterest to prevail, but ratherby non-violentconvictionon the basisof a rationallymotivatedagreement,thenwe willhaveto concentrateon thosequestions whichare amenableto impartialjudgement.Whenwe askwhatis good for me, or good for us, or good for them, we can't expect a generallybindinganswer;we should ratherask:what is equallygood for all. This 'moralpointof view'throwsa strongbut narrowbeam of lightwhichpicksout in the massof evaluativequestions just those 'action conflicts'whichcan be resolvedby referenceto a generalizable interest;in other words, questionsof justice. In saying this I am not claimingthat questionsof justice are the only relevant questions.Usuallyethicalexistentialquestionsarethe sourceof fargreaterconcern to us - problemswhichforcethe individualor a groupto workout clearlywho they are and who they'd like to be. Such problemsof self-understandingmay well be the source of greater concernfor us than questions of justice. But it is only the latterwhose structureis such that they can be resolvedto the balancedand equal advantageof all. Moraljudgementshave to meet with the agreementof all those who mightbe concerned,eachfromtheirown perspective- andnot, as in the case

of ethical judgement, on the basisof

the way you and I understandourselvesand

the world. And it then follows that moral theories, if they adopt a cognitivistic approach,are essentiallytheoriesof justice. T.H.N.: How and why is it thatjustice remainsone and undivided?Whydo the disunions and split-upsin modernity,to ask more generally, stop with the three Kantiancritiques, and thus let among others justice remainundivided?Michael Walzer's Spheres of Justice is one long argumentfor dividingalso justice in its spheres(membership,welfare,money,education,etc.) in orderto defendpluralism and equality. 'Theprinciplesof justiceare themselvespluralisticin form,different social goods ought to be distributedfor different reasons, in accordancewith different procedures,by differentagents'(1983:6). J.H.: I agree unreservedlywithMichaelWalzer'spropositionhere, but not with his consequences. The idea that a normis just or in the generalinterestis equivalentto sayingthat this normdeservesto be recognized.'Justice'assuchis not material,nota particular value but a dimensionof validity.Just as descriptivesentences may be true, that is, may expresswhat is the case, so normativesentencestoo maybe rightandmay expresswhathasto be done. Butthe variousprinciplesor normswiththeirsemantic content, regardlessof whetherthey are valid or not, are somethingon a different level. For instance, there are different principlesof distributivejustice. They are materialprinciplesof justicesuchas 'everyoneaccordingto hisneeds', or 'everyone accordingto his ability',or 'equalsharesfor all'. On the other hand, principlesof equal protection, of equal respectfor all, the principlesof due process or equal applicationof the law relate to a differentkind of problem.Whatis at issue here is not the distributionof goods or opportunitiesbut the protectionof freedomand integrity. Now, in that they appearto be universalizableall these principlesof justice can be justified,and it can be assertedthat they are primafacie valid. But only theirapplicationin particularconcreteinstanceswillshow whichof the various competing principlesis the most appropriatein a given context.


And thatis the taskof discoursesof application:within the family,forexample,

conflictsregardingdistributionwill probablybe decidedaccordingto the principle

of need ratherthan accordingto the achievementprinciple,whilst on

hand the situation may be the reverse in particularquestions of the economic distributionof social rewards.That dependson whichprinciplefits bestin a given situation,the relevantcharacteristicsof the latterhavingbeen describedas fully as possible. But I find the idea of matchingprinciplesof justicegenerallyto a priori delimited total spheres of action highly problematical.In my view the sort of considerationsWalzerentertainscould be accommodatedin discoursesof appli- cation;but then they'dhave to show themselvesto be validfor each singlecase in its own right. T.H.N.: The limitationof moralityto justiceimpliesa sharpdistinctionbetween moral questions(which, under the aspect of universalizationof justice, can in principlebe decided rationally)and evaluativequestions(whichare questionsof the good life andas suchaccessibleto a rationaldiscussiononly withinthe horizon of a historicallyconcrete life form or individuallife history). But do you quite exclude a possible congruence between justice and the good life? John Rawls, whose theoryof justice as fairnessalso gives rightpriorityover the good, suggests the congruence'at least in the circumstancesof a well-orderedsociety'. And the structureof an ethical doctrinedepends to him not only upon how it defines the differences,but also 'how it relates the rightand the good' (1971:446). J.H.: Yes, in a societywhichpossessedall the resourcesof a modem societyand wereatthe sametimewell-ordered,justandemancipated,thesocializedindividuals wouldenjoynot only autonomyand a highdegreeof participation,theywouldalso have greater freedom for their own self-realization,that is, for the conscious projectionand pursuitof individuallife plans. T.H.N.: You separate 'justice' and 'the good life', but you include care and responsibilityin 'justice'. That was, at least, your answer to Carol Gilligan's separationof the two ethics of 'justice'and 'care'(In a DifferentVoice, 1982).But how can Gilligan's'care'and 'responsibility',fromthe cognitivepoint of view, be partof your'justice'and 'discourseethics'?The 'ethicsof care'is directedtowards

a particularother insteadof a generalizedother;it is a contextualway of thinking instead of a formal-abstract;it is a relationshipinsteadof a role, and the moral problemsaredue to conflictinginterestsinsteadof competingrights.Howcanthese four differencesbe subsumedunderone formal'justice'? J.H.: Let me take the firsttwo pointstogether, thenthe secondtwo in the same way. The impressionthat deontologicalethics such as the Kantianone compelone to ignore the concreteother and his particularsituationarisessolely becauseof the one-sidedpreoccupationwithquestionsof justification.It is in factpossibleto avoid suchone-sidedness.Kantconceivesmoralityfromthe Rousseauisticperspectiveof

a legislatorwho considershow a mattermay be resolvedin the generalinterestof all citizens,thatis, fromthe pointof view of the universalityof the interestsof each and all. In this versionthe problemsto do with applicationare lost sight of. The true natureof a particularcase needing resolution, the specificcharacteristicsof the people involved are considered only after the problemsof justificationhave been resolved. However, as soon as it has to be establishedwhich of the prima

the other


facie applicablenormsis the one most appropriateto a given situationand to the associatedconflictthere has to be as complete a descriptionas possibleof all the

the given context. Klaus Gunther entitles his

normativelyrelevant features of

exemplarystudy of discoursesof applicationDer Sinnfur Angemessenheit('The Sense of Appropriateness'). It is not possible to take complete account of 'PracticalReason' in terms of justificationdiscoursesalone. In the justificationof normsPracticalReason finds expressionin the principleof universalization,whereasit is expressedin the form of a principleof appropriatenessin the applicationof norms.Ifthe complementarity of justificationandapplicationis clearlygrasped,one sees howdiscourseethicscan take accountof those misgivingswhich you have voiced and whichare sharedby Carol Gilliganand Seyla Benhabib. Now let us turn to the second main objection which claimsthat deontological ethics concentrates on rights and not on needs, neglecting also the aspect of membershiprelationshipsin favourof institutionallydefinedroles. Lookingback at the individualismof the Kantiantraditionthismisgivingis clearlyjustified;butit does not applyto discourseethics.Fordiscourseethicstakesuptheintersubjectivist approachof pragmatismand conceives of practicaldiscourseas a public praxisof mutualperspective-taking:everybodyis stimulatedto adoptthe perspectiveof all othersin orderthat they mightexaminethe acceptabilityof a solutionaccordingto the way every other person understandsthemselves and the world. Justice and solidarityare two sides of the same coin. On the one handpracticaldiscourseis a procedure which allows everyone the right to influence an outcome by either agreeing or disagreeing;it is a procedure, therefore, which in this sense takes accountof an individualisticunderstandingof equality.On the otherhand,practical discourse leaves that social bond intact which encourages as well as urges all participantsin the argumentto be aware that they belong to an unlimitedcom- municationcommunity.And it is only when the maintenanceof this community which demandsof all its membersthat they performan act of selflessempathyin

thisidealrole-takingis securedthatthosenetworksof reciprocalrecognitionwithout whichthe veryidentityof each andeveryindividualwouldnecessarilydisintegrate, can reproducethemselves. T.H.N.: How are we to understandthe borderlineor separationbetween'moral- ity' and'law'.They are- followingDurkheimaswell as Weber- the two distinctive results of the division and split-upof the old, traditonalethics; but they remain defined by the same object or telos. Are 'morality'and 'law' in modernityto be seen merely as different ways of institutionalizingand differentproceduresfor arrivingat the same goal? J.H.: Positivelaw and post-conventionalmoralitycomplementone anotherand together overlaytraditionalethical-life.If you adopt a normativepoint of view it is not hardto graspthe factthatjustifiedmoralnormsarein themselvesincomplete. It is a preconditionfor the generalacceptanceof any normwhichpassesthe test of universalizationthatthe normbe in factadheredto by everyone.Andit is precisely this conditionwhich a post-conventionalmoralitycannotof itself guarantee.Thus the very premisesof any seriouspost-conventionalmode of justificationproducea problemin that it can only be expected of any individualthat he will adhereto a valid norm if he is certain that the norm is adhered to by everyone else. Kant


himselfjustifiedin this way the transitionfrom moralityto law sanctionedby the state. And Kantalso recognizedthe problemwhicharisesfromthe exerciseof the power. Politicalpower is not a 'glassyessence', it has its own characteristicsas a medium;the use and organizationof this power need to be subjectedin turn to moral constraint.The idea of the 'rule of law' is the classicalresponse to this challenge. There is in Kant and early liberalisma conception of the rule of law which suggeststhat legal orderis itself actuallymoralin nature,or at least a formof the implementationof morality.But it is wrongthusto assimilatelaw to morality.The political element in law bringsother quite differentfactors to the fore. Not all matterswhichneed to be and can be resolvedlegallyare of a moralkind. Even if legislationwere to approximateto the idealconditionsfor discursivewill-formation the decisionof the legislatorcould not be basedsolely on moralgrounds- andthis is particularlythe casewithlegislationin a welfarestate.Thereis alwaysa significant role to be played here by pragmaticreasons for a more or less fair balance of interestswhich are not capable of generalization.Furthermore,there are ethical groundsfor the acceptanceof a givenself-understandingandforthe preferredform of life in a groupin whichdifferenttraditionsall formingdifferentidentitiescome togetherandhaveto be harmonized.It is forthisreasonthatthe claimto legitimacy of positive law even if it had been based on rationalwill-formationcould not be

reducedsolely to its claim to moralvalidity. With the

introductionof pragmatic

and ethical reasonsother factorscome into play in the questionof the legitimacy of the law:there are more aspectsto this legitimacythanthe normativevalidityof moralnorms. The 'force' of the law, that is, legal validity, consists of two components:the rationalcomponentwhichconsistsin the claimto legitimacyis combinedwith the empiricalcomponent of the enforcementof law. Legal validityclaims to justify bothcomponentsatthe sametimevis-A-visthe addressees:thecognitiveexpectation that if necessaryforce may be broughtto bearso that everyonewill adhereto the various legal norms (it is for this reason that the law is satisfiedby legality of

behaviour,thatis, by behaviourmerelyconformingto the norms);at the sametime it claimsto justifythe normativeexpectationthat there are availablegood reasons forrecognizingthe systemof lawsas a whole (whichis whythe lawmustat all times provide the opportunitiesfor more than mere legality, namely, an autonomous obedienceon the basisof an understandingof andin agreementwiththe legitimacy of the legal order).


T.H.N.: Let us shift the focus from the definitionand demarcationof moralityto your linguisticargumentationfor the discourseethics, in particularyour devel- opment of Toulmin'sanalysisof the 'use of arguments',Wittgenstein's'gamesof language'and Chomsky's'universalgrammer'to a formal-pragmatic. I will alreadyat this methodologicallevel confrontyou witha new argumentfor an old objection questioning a possible occidentalismor eurocentrismin your defence of the Enlightenmentand behind your concept of evolution. It can be questionedwhether the whole notion of a universalformal-pragmaticis nothing


buta badgeneralizationfromthe Indo-Europeanlanguages.Lee Whorf(Language, Thoughtand Reality,1956)found;contrastingStandardAverageEuropean(SAE) with a series of non-Europeanlanguages,that suchcentralfeaturesas the function of the verbs, the time structureand the relation between subject and predicate were principallydifferent from the condition in the later developed universal pragmatics.There seems to be abundantlinguisticdata that gives the lie to or falsifiesthe whole notion of a universalpragmatic.You mightarguethat the non- SAE languagesare merelyless developedlanguageson theirway to the universal grammarbehind the universalpragmatics,but then you have to justify how an evolution or development is possible in the depth structurebehindthe universal grammar. J.H.: The Sapir-Whorfhypothesiswas discussedat lengthin the 1950s,by and large with negative results. It is clear that the fact that the surfacestructuresof individuallanguagesmaydifferwidelydoes not meanthat thereare not significant similaritiesin the semanticdeep structureof simple assertivesentencesor in the pragmaticbasic structureof the speech situation(e.g. personalpronouns,deictics of time and place). WhatWhorfhad in mindwas ratherthose differencesbetween linguisticworld-viewsin whichalreadyHumboldtwas interested,thoughhis con- siderationsdid not lead him to posit the linguisticrelativitythesis. I don't think that it is necessary to take recourse to the notion of an evolution of linguistic systemsto avoidthis thesis. Given the way naturallanguagesare, the evolutionary assumption is inappropriate.The grammaticalcomplexity of languages rarely changesover time. Whorf'sintuitionhascome to the fore recentlyon quitea differentlevel, namely, in the rationalitydebatewhichwas begunby anthropologistsandhasdevelopedin manyquite differentdirections.I thinkthe crucialpoint in thisdebate is whether we takeaccountof anasymmetrywhichdevelopsbetweentheinterpretivecapacities of differentculturesin that some have introducedsecond-orderconcepts,whereas others have not. These second-orderconcepts provide the necessarycognitive conditionsfor a culturebecomingreflective,thatis to say, forits membersadopting

a hypotheticalstance vis-a-vistheir own traditionsand being able on this basisto understandthemselves as culturallyrelativeindividuals.This kind of pluricentric understandingof the world is a characteristicof modern societies. What the argumentis about is whethercognitivestructuresof this kindindicatea threshold whichdemandsof anyculturethatpassesthisthresholdsimilarprocessesof learning and adaptation. Accordingto the contextualists,the transitionto post-metaphysicalconceptsof nature, to post-traditionalviews of law and morality,characterizesonly one par- ticulartraditionamong others and does not mean that traditionas such becomes reflective.I cannotsee how this argumentcan be seriouslysustained.I thinkMax Weber was right preciselyin that cautiousuniversalisticinterpretationwhichled Wolfgang Schluchterto his thesis concerningthe generalculturalsignificanceof


T.H.N.: Your moral theory takes the form of an investigationof the moral argumentation.And the only moral principleis a principleof universalization, whichhas the same functionin the moraldiscourseas the principleof inductionin the experimentalsciences. A norm is only justifiedif it is acceptablein an actual argumentationto all who are potentially affected by it, meaningthat the norm


satisfiesthe interestsof each participantin the argument.Whydo the participants have to agreeon the consequences?Whycan they not agreeto disagreein a moral analogy to the constitutionalpolitics with its consensus on certain themes and proceduresfor disagreementand struggleover other themes? J.H.: Argumentationis not a process of deliberationimmediatelyresultingin firmdecisions,butin the firstplacea problem-solvingprocedureleadingto convic- tions.Of coursethe argumentaboutthe truthclaimof assertivestatementsor about the rightnessclaim of normative statements may remain undecidedso that no agreementis reached;in this case one would leave the matteropen for the time being whilst remainingmindful of the fact that only one side can be right. In practicaldiscourseon the other hand it may turn out that the conflictat stake is not of a moralkind at all. It may be an ethical-existentialquestion,affectingthe self-understandingof certainpersonsor of a given group;in thiscase any answer, howeverreasonableit be, will be valid only in relationto the aim of my or your

good, or let us say not unsuccessful,life; it will not be able to lay claim to be universallybinding.Or perhapsit is a pragmaticquestionof balancingopposite, but non-generalizableinterests;in which case the participantscan at best reach a fair or a good compromise.Thus the failureof attemptsat argumentationin the areaof praxiscanallowone to cometo anunderstandingof thefactthatnegotiations or discoursesof self-understandingare called for ratherthanmoraldiscourses. Thereis a rationalcoreinparliamentarywill-formationalso:forpoliticalquestions are capableof beinghandleddiscursively,eitherfromthe empiricalandpragmatic

or from the moraland ethicalpointsof

view. Of course, there are finitepoints by

which decisionshave to be reached in such legally institutionalizedprocessesof opinion formation.The procedurescombine the formingof opinions orientated towardstruthwith the reachingof a majoritydecision. Fromthe point of view of

a discoursetheory, of course, which tries to rationallyreconstructthe normative intent of such procedures,the majorityrule must keep an internallink with the cooperativesearch for truth. Ideally, then, the outcome of a majoritydecision reacheddiscursivelyshouldbe able to be presumedas rational:the contentof any decision reachedin accordancewith due proceduresmustbe able to count as the rationallymotivatedbut fallible resultof a discussionprovisionallybroughtto an end becauseof the pressureof temporal,socialandotherconstraints.Accordingly, one should not confuse discourse as a procedure for making moral or ethical judgementswiththe legallyinstitutionalizedproceduresfor politicalwill formation that is mediatedby discourse. T.H.N.: The cognitivismof the discourseethicsis derivedfromthe truthanalogy of the normativevalidityclaims.However, the analogycan only be maintainedby reducingnormsbehindthe principleof universalizationto normativevalidity.How can and why must a moral theory neglect the empiricalvalid norms without normativevalidity(with 'geltfing'but without 'gultigkeit')?And is the limitation possiblewithoutsimultaneouslycutting-offorpreventinganydialecticorconnection to a societalethics? J.H.: Seenfromthepointof viewof theperformativeattitudesof theiraddressees, normsclaimto be validin a way analogousto truth.In usingthe term 'analogous' we have of course to rememberthat one must not equate the claimto validityof

normswiththe truthclaimof sentences. The differencescan be seen even priorto


obvious differences in rules of argumentationand in the specificnature of the argumentspermissiblein both cases. Differencesare manifestalreadyin the fact

that normative claims to validity originate ultimately in norms, that is, from structureswhich are on a higher level than single moral actions and regulative speech-acts, whereas truth-values are attributed to the individual assertive sentences, not to the theories into which they might be integrated.In the latter case the higher-levelstructures,that is, the theories, are validby virtueof the set of true sentences which can be derived from them, whereason the other hand individualcommandsor prohibitionsborrowtheirvalidityonlyfromthe underlying norms. From this follows another interestingdifference;the belief that sentences are true does not have an impacton the dimensionwhichis preciselyessentialfor the truthof sentences, namely,the existenceof statesof affairs.In contrast,the belief that norms are correct is directly related to the dimensionwhich is essential to them, namely,the regulationof actions.As soon as a norn governingactionsis in fact recognized and adhered to by its addressees they develop a corresponding

praxis- no matterwhetherthe norm could be justifiedfromthe viewpointof an

impartialjudge, and deservesrecognitionor whetherit is simplyfollowedde facto

by being recognizedfor the wrongreasonsor adheredto out of sheer habit. And

it is forthisreasonthatit is importantto distinguishbetweenthe validity(gultigkeit) of a normon the one hand and, on the other, the fact that it obtainsin a society, that it has social 'Geltung',in other words that it is generallyheld to be valid.

I am not certain whether I am understandingwhat you really mean by your question.The moraltheoristviews thingsnormatively;he sharesthe attitudeof an addresseeof a norm who takes part in discoursesof justificationor application. Seen fromthisvantagepointwe have to beginby suspendingourprimafaciebelief in existing traditions, established practices and suspendingour trust in existing motives;in short, one mustsomehowabstractfromthe establishedethical-lifeof a society. On the other hand, it is preciselythis ethical life whichmustinterestthe sociologist. But he adopts the objectivatingviewpointof a participatingobserver. We cannot adopt at one and the same time the second-personviewpointof the addressee of a norm and the third-personviewpoint of a sociologicalobserver. Whatyou have in mind is, I think, the complicatedcase whereknowledgegained fromone pointof viewis interpretedfromthe other.Thatis thecaseof asociologist, who measuresa belief in legitimacy,whichhe hasestablisheddescriptively,against the good reasons which can be adducedfor the legitimacyof the observedorder fromthe point of view of potentialaddressees.Correspondingly,the participantin an argumentation(or the moraltheoristas his philosophicalalterego) switcheshis roleassoon ashe sees thingsas a politicallegislatorandthustakesintoconsideration both the empiricalaspects of the matterawaitingresolutionand the acceptability of regulationswithina given community.These variouswaysof seeing thingsand the various objects must be clearly distinguishedfrom one another. But such differencesprovideno argumentin favourof a finalsociologizationof moraltheory. T.H.N.: The conditionsof the discourseethics are only met on Kohlberg'slast, post-conventionalstages. And only a minorityof the adult populationreaches- accordingto alllongitudestudiesin Kohlberg'stradition(Colby&Kohlberg1987)- this stage. Combiningthe two we get the apparentparadoxof a post-conventional


society with a prevailingmajority of the population on a pre-conventionalor

conventionalmoralstage. How is it possible?And how is it compatiblewith your underliningof 'the normativestructuresas the pacemakerof social evolution'? (1979:120).If the answeris that the post-conventionalmoralityis embedded in 'law'or 'structure',then the burdenof renderinglikely, how that can be a stable situation,a kind of equilibrium, mustbe yours. J.H.: Socialinnovationsare often instigatedby marginalminorities,even if they go on to be generalizedin the whole societyon the institutionallevel. This maybe the reasonwhy positive law in modem societies is to be understoodas a form of an institutionalizationof post-conventionalstructuresof consciousness,althoughit is foundthatmanymembershaveonly a conventionallevel of moralconsciousness. Nor does a conventionalunderstandingof a post-conventionalsystemof lawshave to lead to instability;such an understanding,to give an example, more often preventsradicalinterpretationswhichmay occasionallylead to civil disobedience. What'smore,theresearchfindingsaboutthemoralconsciousnessof the members of a society may be problematical;it is a matterof contentionwhetherKohlberg's surveymethods do not in fact lead to artificialresultsin the definitionof stages. For instance,childrenare able to performthe moraljudgementsof a given stage longbeforethey are in a positionto explicateverballythe intuitiveknowledgethey have vis-a-visthe well-knowndilemmas. T.H.N.: The finalquestionrelatedto the truth-analogyof normsis a repetition. It was originallyasked in 1984 by New Left Review, but remainedunanswered. 'How do you conceive the relation between philosophicaland scientific truth- claims? Are philosophicaltruth-claimscognitive claims, and would a rational consensusultimatelyguaranteethe truth of a consensus theory of truth itself?'


J.H.: I believe that philosophytoday is playingtwo roles at the same time- the role of an interpreter,in whichphilosophymediatesbetweenthe lifeworldandthe culturesof experts,anda morespecializedrolewithinthe scientificsystem,whereit cooperatesparticularlywithvariousreconstructivesciences.Inso doingit produces statementswhich claimto be true in the same way as other scientificstatements. The discoursetheoryof truthcontainsassertionswhichneed to be defendedagainst rivaltheoriesof truthin the context of the relevantuniverseof discourse. But yourquestionexpressedanotherdoubt. I understandyou aresuggestingthat the self-referentialnatureof philosophical,in thiscasetruth-theoretical,statements necessarilyreduces the discourse theory of truth to absurdity.Of course, the reconstructionthat I proposefor our intuitiveunderstandingof truthin termsof a discoursetheoryof truthmightwell tum out to be wrongor at leastunsatisfactory. Butthe praxiswhichdepends,in oureverydayexistenceor in science,on thecorrect use of this intuitiveknowledgeis not affected by these attemptsat philosophical

reconstruction- or by their possible revisions. It is not possible to 'refute' the

knowledgemanifestin use the sameway as a wrongdescriptionof this knowledge. T.H.N.: The concept of performativecontradiction,borrowedfrom Apel but releasedfrom his transcendentaljustification,is decessivefor the transcendental- pragmaticargument.No competentspeakercan avoidthe validityclaims,because the very speech-actin which he would announcehis refusalwould 'rest on non-

contingentpresuppositionwhosepropositionalcontentcontradictsthe propositional


content of the speech-actitself (1983:90).The argumentbehindthe 'performative

contradiction'appearsconvincingin the

tematically avoid communicativeaction without throwinghis own rationalityin doubt, but how is the principleable to justify and sort out one type of ethical position at the expense of another? J.H.: The demonstrationof performativecontradictionsplays a part in the refutationof scepticalcounter-arguments.This casuisticpracticecan be developed into a methodand then serves, as it does with Strawson,to allowthe identification of unavoidablepresuppositionsunderlyinga praxis,like communicativeactionor argumentation,for which there are no functional equivalents in our form of life. Apel and I both use this method in order to discover necessarypragmatic presuppositionsof argumentationandto examinethesefortheirnormativecontent. In this way I am tryingto justifya certainprincipleof universalizationas a moral principle. The intention in the first place is simply to demonstratethat moral- practicalquestionscan in principlebe solved by meansof reasons.These necessary pragmaticpresuppositionsof argumentationhavethe sameplacein discourseethics as has the constructionof the 'originalposition'in Rawls'stheoryof justice.It will then be for the discussion between such theoretical approachesto show which version of a Kantian ethic is the better one. This professionaldispute will be conducted from a numberof points of view; it most certainlycannotbe resolved straightaway by direct referenceto performativecontradictions. T.H.N.: What is the statusof the idealspeechsituationin the moraldiscourse, and what does the 'performativecontradiction'demandor presupposefromit? Is itpartlycontrafactual;is it partof thefictionof societyas lifeworldoris it a hypostasis to reality?Or how are the three related? The firstpositionis explicitlyyourown in MkH (1983:102).The secondposition follows from an understandingof the discourseethics as a furtherdevelopmentof the last of TCA's three fictions necessary in order to conceptualizesociety as lifeworld, i.e. 'the transparencyof communication'(1981 11:148).And the third position is ascribedto you as a consequenceby Schluchter,who claimsthatit is in the logic of your argumentation'to hypostatizethe ideal speech situationfrom a necessarypreconditionto an ideal of reality'(1988:1323). J.H.: For presentpurposeswe can ignore the second position,whichrelieson a concept of lifeworld which I myself did reject as idealistic. The first position holds only that the unlimited- unlimitedin social space and in historicaltime - communicationcommunityis an idea to which we can approximateour real argumentationsituations.At any given point in time we are orientatingourselves by this idea when we endeavourto ensure that (a) all voices in any way relevant can get a hearing,and that (b) the best argumentswe have in our presentstate of knowledgeare broughtto bear,andthat(c) disagreementor agreementon the part of the participantsfollowsonly fromthe force of the betterargumentandno other

force. Unfortunately,I once called the state in which those idealizingconditions would be fulfilledthe 'idealspeechsituation';but this termis easilymisunderstood becauseit is too concretistic.It leadsto the sortof hypostatizationwhichSchluchter, albeitwith a numberof reservations,attributesto me. Schluchterbaseshiscase on the term 'Vorscheineiner Lebensform'whichI withdrewas long as ten yearsago. But at no time have I intended the 'unlimitedcommunicationcommunity'to be

narrowsense, that an agent cannotsys-


understoodas more than a necessarypresuppostion.I would not like to see it as an 'idealin reality'as Schluchter,who cites Wellmer,wouldhave it. Indeed, I hesitateto call this communicationcommunitya regulativeidea in the Kantiansense, because the idea of an 'inevitableidealizingpresuppositionof a pragmaticnature'cannot be broughtunder the classicalcontrastbetween 'regu- lative' and 'constitutive'ideas. Fromthe pointof view of the participants,whatis regulativeis the idea that the truthof presuppositions,whichwe declarehere andnow canbe fallibleassertions. On the one hand all reasonsat our disposalhic et nunc justifyus in claimingthe statusof truthfor 'p';on the other handwe cannotbe certainthat'p' will standup to all future objections - we cannot know whether it will be one of the valid statementswhich would meet in the unlimited communicationcommunitywith agreementagainand againad infinitum. But the necessarypragmaticpresuppositionsof argumentationare not merely regulative,becausethese conditionsmust, in sufficientdegreesof approximation, be fulfilledhic etnuncif we wishto argueat all. The levelof fulfilmentis 'sufficient' whenit givesouractualargumentationpraxisthe statusof a component- localizable in space and time - of the universaldiscourse of the unlimitedcommunication community.But this does not mean that the latter changes,for example into an ideawhichconstitutesa reality.Theconceptof theworld-constitutionis inapplicable here. It is ratherthe case that if we want to enter an argumentationwe must de factomakethose presuppositions,althoughthey have anidealizedcontentandcan only be approximatedto. Withthe claimsto validitymade in communicativeactionthere enters into the social facts themselves an ideal tension which comes to consciousness,for the participatingsubjects, as a force which points beyond the given context and transcendsall merely provincialcriteria. To put it paradoxically,the regulative idea of the validityof utterancesis constitutivefor the social facts producedby communicativeaction.As Schluchternotes, I departfromKant'sfigureof thought here, butI do so withouttherebyacceptingthe totalizingthoughtpatternof Hegel. Alreadywith Peircethe idea of an unlimitedcommunicationcommunityserves to replacethe idea of the unconditionalityor of the timelessnatureof absolutetruth withthe idea of a processof interpretationandunderstandingwhichtranscendsthe limits of social space and historical time as it were from within. The learning processesof the unlimitedcommunicationcommunitywill forn an arch in time bridgingall temporaldistances,andin the worldthey are to realizethe conditions whosefulfilmentmustbe presupposedby anyact of raisingthe unconditionalclaim to a transcendingvalidity. Thistruththeoreticalconceptalsoshapesthe ideaof a societywhichemergesfrom communicativeaction,for these interactionscan proceedonlyvia intersubjectively recognizedclaims to validity. It is for this reason that even counterfactualpre- suppositionsof the subjectsacting communicativelycan count on the favourable response of social reality:every de facto claim to validitywhich transcendsour given lifeworldcreates a new fact as soon as the addresseeacceptsor rejects it. Mediated by this cognitive/linguisticinfrastructureof society, the results of the interplaybetweeninner-worldlearningprocessesandworld-disclosinginnovations take shape. This is the Hegelian element which Schluchterdetects, but which he


sees fromhis Kantianpoint of view - and in my opinionerroneously- only as the impermissibleobjectivationof a regulativeidea.


T.H.N.: As a 'reflectivecommunicativeaction' the discourseis connectedto or situated in the lifeworld and its perspective.But perhapsmore strikingand pro- voking from an ethical point of view is the absence of normsand ethicsin TCA's other level of society, the systemworldwith its media, money and power. The coordinationof action throughthe systemworldis - at least in passagesof TCA- as free from norms as the coordinationof action throughcommunicationis free fromforce or power. Honnethhascharacterizedit as 'twocomplementaryfictions'


You have already elucidated how the expression 'norm-freesociality'has led to misunderstandings.The system-integrationremains- even after the modem uncouplingof system and lifeworld- indirectlyachievedby way of mechanismsof consensus, at least 'to the extent that the legal institutionalizationof the steering

media must link up with the normative contexts of the lifeworld

The claim is

only that the integrationof actionsystemsis not ultimatelybaseduponthe socially integrativeachievementsof the communicativeactionsthey demandand of their backgroundin the lifeworld. It is not illocutionarybindingeffects, but steering mediathatholdthe economicandadministrativeactionsystemstogether(1986c:14-


The answermightsoften the positionin TCA, butit maintainsthe understanding of the system-world('market'and 'state')and the media('money'and 'power')as mechanismsof integration,which demandsof the actor a strategicattitude.And that seems in turn to implya kind of rational(instrumental)choice at the market and to presupposethe separationof politics and administrationin the state. The next three questions all doubt these assumptionsor preconditions. The strategicacting man on the marketis only part of your post-conventional ego, but the part shares decessive characteristicswith the neo-classiceconomic man. Whydo you neglector take as insignificantthe argumentsof the 'institutional economics'that marketman with his pure strategicand utilitarianactiondied out at the latest with Smith's 'invisiblehand'. Etzioni's latest book is one long enu- meration of evidences and argumentsthat 'that most importantbasis of choices (also on the market) are affective and normative. That is, people often make non- or subrationalchoices, firstbecause they build up their normative-affective foundations, and only secondly because they have weak and limitedintellectual


J.H.: I thinkthatis a misunderstanding.I use 'system'and'lifeworld'asconcepts for social orders which differ accordingto the mechanismsof social integration, that is, the modes of coordinatinginteractions.In 'socially integrated'areas of actionthe interactionsarelinkedeitherviathe intentionsof the actorsthemselvesor via theirintuitivebackgroundknowlegeof the lifeworld;in 'systemicallyintegrated' areas of action order emerges objectively so to speak 'over the heads of the participants'andit does so via consequencesof actionswhichinterlockfunctionally and stabilizeone another.The conceptof lifeworldI proposehas to be introduced


in termsof a theoryof action.But onlyif the conceptof systemhadto be introduced in thissamewaywouldone be permittedto establishthatclearandlinearconnection between systemicallyintegratedspheres and just one type of action - purposive

action- which you are attributingto me.

I introduced,as you remember,the conceptof systemicallyintegrated,that is, self-steering, recursivelyclosed spheres of action via mechanismsof functional integration,the steeringmedia being money and power. There are certainlycor- relatesof the latteron the level of social actions,in the formof interactionsbased on mediasteering.Butthis factin no wayprejudicesthe rationalityof the decisions of actors.The mediumonly determinesthe standardsby whichpersistingconflicts can be ultimatelyresolved. The structurallimitationswhich media-steeredinter- actionsare subjectto providestimulifor a moreor less rationalplanningof action, butthey neitherrequirethat actionbe rationallyorientatednorcanthey obligethe actorsto behave thus. The empiricalevidence whichyou mentionedis therefore compatible with a media-theoreticaldescriptionof economic or administrative behaviour. T.H.N.: The understandingof stateas systemandpower as mediais taken over from Parsons,and both presupposesthe separationof politicsand administration in thestate. McCarthyhascriticizedthisas'contraryto bothempiricalinvestigations andyourown conceptof democracy'.'If self-determination,politicalequalityand the participationof citizensin decision-makingprocessesare the hallmarksof true democracy, then a democraticgovernmentcould not be a political system in Habermas'ssense'(1985:44).And youoftenemphasizeyourselfthatthe democratic state cannotbe reducedto its legal order;it puts- to take an example- in the case of 'civildisobedience'its legalityat the dispositionof thosewho arein a positionto


avoid breakingthe separationof politicsand administrationbehind TCA'sunder- standingof state as system and power as media? J.H.: I do not regardthe processesof legitimationas of themselvespart of an administrativesystemregulatedby power;rather,they take place in what I have calledthe 'publicsphere'(Offentlichkeit).Here two oppositetendenciesmeet and intersect.The communicativelyproducedpower (H. Arendt) whichdevelops out of democraticprocessesof will and opinion formationcomes up againstthe pro- duction of mass loyalty by and for the administrativesystem. How these two processes,the moreor less spontaneouswill andopinionformationthroughpublic communicationon the one handand the organizedcreationof massloyaltyon the other, affecteach otheras they come into contactis an empiricalmatter.A similar interferencetakes place in the institutionalizedformsof politicalwill formation, for instancein parliamentarybodies. Only if the politicalpartiesbecame totally absorbedby and integratedin the state-apparatuswould this institutionalizedwill formationbecome partof an administrativesystemwhich- albeitwithinthe limits of currentlegislation- programmeditself. To returnto your question: the boundariesbetween communicativelysteered politicalwill andopinionformationon the one handandadministrationsteeredby poweron the otherhandcould underthe conditionsof modernlife be blurredonly for the priceof a dedifferentiationof the administrativesystem.The emergenceof


communicativepowerfromautonomouspublicspheresobeysa quite differentlogic than the maintenanceand exerciseof administrativepower.

Civildisobedience- in the sense of a non-violenttranspressionof rulesintended

as a symbolic appeal to a majoritywhich is of a differentopinion - is only an extremecase whichallowsone to studythe interplaybetweennon-institutionalized public communicationand the institutionalizeddecision-makingprocesseswithin democraticbodies. One can influencethe other because the latter enshrinesthe idea I havejustmentioned:it is the liberalmeaningof parliamentarywillformation thattruthorientatedopinionformationis broughtinto playas a kindof filterbefore majoritydecisionsin such a way thatthe lattermayclaimthe presumptionof more

or less reasonableoutcomes. T.H.N.: Let us for a moment suspend the doubt behind the two preceding questions. How can state and market,even if they are both media, be analogue,

parallel and complementary?TCA enumerates- again followingParsons- three differences (in measurement,circulationand depositing), but retums to just the 'fundamentalsimularity',whichthe 'Rejoinder'denies, that'thelifeworldno longer

is necessaryfor the coordinationof action'. And the very motivationallinkto the

lifeworld, which the Rejoinderemphasizes, appears anythingbut analogue and parallel for the marketand the state. The state-poweris a cause-effect causality

fromintentionto consequence;whilethe marketthroughthe moneyis expectedto transforma selfishattitudeto a commongood. Thierightattitudetowardsthe state

as administrationis obedience;towardsthe marketit is selfishness,i.e. twodifferent stages on Kohlberg'sscale. How can these differencesin the linkingup with the

lifeworldbe consistentwiththeirparallelityas mediain the architectureof the two- level concept of society? J.H.: The contradictionyou have just elaboratedcan be resolvedas follows:the two media, money and power, work symmetricallyin so far as they serve to hold together differentiatedand self-steering systems of action, independentof any

intentionaleffort, that is,

is asymmetryin the way that each of these two media dependson the lifeworld,

although it is true for both that they are legally institutionalizedand therefore

embedded in the lifeworld. But whereas the capitalisteconomy subsumes the

productionprocessincludingthe substratumof labourpower,the democraticstate apparatusremainsdependenton the repeatedprovisionof legitimation,overwhich

it can never in toto gain complete and long-standingcontrolthroughthe exercise

of administrativepower. In thiscase the communicativelyproducedpowerprovides

a substratumwhich is rooted in discursiveprocesses of public will and opinion

formation. It can never be cut off from these roots to the same degree as the capitalistproductionprocessin fact can be made independentfrom the lifeworld contexts of the force of labour. This asymmetryshould, however, not lead us to think that the administrative system can be reducedto categoriesof the lifeworld.The asymmetryis, it is true,

a necessaryconditionfor demandsto be made of the administrativesystemin the

name of imperativesemergingfrom the lifeworld;and these politicalimperatives raisedin the publicspheredo not, as in the case of consumerdecisions,haveto be

formulatedfrom the outset in the language of the steeringmediumin question, that is, in prices and directions, in order to become 'comprehensible'for the

attemptsat coordinationon the partof the actors.There


correspondingsystem.One can graspthisby lookingat the differentwaysin which

politicsandadministrationhandlelaw- thatis, normativelyormoreinstrumentally.

The administrativesystem uses law more instrumentally; what counts from the pointof viewof the use of administrativepoweris not the practicalreasoninvolved in the justificationor applicationof norms,but ratherthe efficiencywith whicha programme,in partreceivedand in partfurtherelaboratedby the administration itself, is implemented.Those normativereasons,which,in the languageof politics, have to justifygivennorms,retainin the languageof the administrationthe status of constraintsand post-hoc rationalizationsof otherwise motivateddecisions. At

the sametime, normativereasonsremainthe sole currencyin whichcommunicative power becomes operative. Communicativepower can affect the administrative systemto the extent thatit husbandsthe pool of reasonsfromwhichadministrative decisions, which are limited by the rule of law, must take their support. Not everything'canbe done' whichthe administrativesystemcoulddo if the preceding

politicalcommunicationand will-formationhad devaluedthose reasonsnecessary withina given legal frame. T.H.N.: The three precedingquestionscan be drawntogetherin an argument for supplementingTCA'scritiqueof the pathologiesof modernitywith a kindof 'reversal'.The systemworldand the media colonializelifeworld;but there is also

the tendency that the norms of

penetrate or invade the media to the extent that their integrationcannot (any longer) be pure system-integration.TCA'sanalysisof the juridificationof school and family can be supplementedwith an analysisof cooperationsand economic democracyon the marketand participation,user's democracy,etc., in the state. Why does TCA systematicallyneglect the evidence behind such a reversal?And would theirincorporationbe compatiblewith the architectureand theoryof evol- ution behind TCA? J.H.: When I was writingTCA my main concernwas to develop a theoretical instrumentwithwhichthe phenomenonof 'reification'(Lukacs)could be grasped. But this way of approachingsystemicallyinduceddisturbancesin communicatively rationalizedlifeworldswasone-sided:it failedto utilizethe wholerangeof potential contributionof the theory. The question as to which side imposeslimitationshas to be treatedas an empiricalquestionwhichcannotbeforehandbe decidedon the analyticallevel in favourof the systems.As a responseto similarobjectionsfrom JohannesBergerI have emphasizedalreadyin the prefaceto the thirdedition of the book that colonization of the lifeworld and the democraticcontrol of the dynamicsof systemsunresponsiveto the 'externalities'they producerepresenttwo equally justifiedanalyticalperspectives.The one-sidednessof a view capturedby a certaindiagnosisof the timeis certainlynotinherentin the structureof the theory. T.H.N.: You have, in a seriesof articlespublishedshortlyafterMkH, discussed the use of a reducedor modified'Hegelian'conceptof pragmaticethicsin orderto understandthe mediationfromthe 'discourseethics'to society.The conceptjudges the rationalityof a lifeformon 'whetherthe contextmakesit possibleor encourages the participantsto convertthe principalmoralknowledgein praxis'(1984:228).But is the rationalityeo ipso the morality?The pragmaticethics seems to be reduced to the empiricalnormsof a society'spubliclife. The questionis then whetherthe empiricalvalidnormsin society alsohave a normativevalidity- or if they promote

the lifeworld, understanding,participation,etc.,


them or at least make them possible?All 'ought'remainson the Kantianside of


the question.

J.H.: The concept of communicativerationalitycomprisesa numberof aspects of validity. Hence the rationalityof a life-formis not measuredonly by the extent to which the normativecontexts or its potentialto motivatefacilitatethe putting into practiceof post-conventionalmoraljudgements.Nevertheless,how liberala society is seems to me to depend cruciallyon how far the patternsof socialization and the institutions,the politicalculture,all the traditionswhichformidentity,and everyday practices, express a non-authoritarianform of ethical life in which an autonomousmoralitycan take shape. Intuitivelywe can recognizefairlyquickly- as ethnographerswho have taken up residence, so to speak, in a foreignsociety- how emancipated,responsiveandegalitarianthe surroundingsare, howminorities, marginalsocial groups, handicappedpeople, childrenandold people are treated, what the social significanceis of illness, lonelinessanddeath, how muchtolerance there is vis-i-vis eccentricity,deviantbehaviour,as well as towardsinnovationand danger, and so on. Your question does seem to blurthe lines between two issues, however.When

I drawa distinctionfromthe point of view of a moraltheorist,or indeedfromthat of a participantin the argumentation,between moralityand ethical-lifeI have in mindsomethingdifferentthanwhen I use these termsasa sociologist,thatis, when

I comparethe moralviews of actorsI observe, or the moralcontentof theirlegal

principles, with the

behaviour.But even when I look at thingsas a sociologistit is not the case thatthe normative substance can be grasped only in the heads of those making moral

individualmorality.And a Hegelian identity of 'ought'and 'is' seems out of

established practices, the concrete manifestationsof moral

judgements(or in the legal texts and processes). Of course, moralbehaviouras it is actually practised, however much it may deviate from the declared morality obtainingin the society, also belongs to this normativesubstance.

T.H.N.: The

Howinson Lecture from 1988 discusses the Kantianconcept of

practical reason in another attempt to grasp the same mediation. The lecture is

quite clear that 'the applicationof normsrequiresan additionalargumentationof its own. The impartialityof the judgementcannotagainbe securedbythe principle

of universalization' (1988b: 19). How can a new relativism on the ethical level be

avoided when appropriatenesssubstitutesthe discourseethicalnormsin all ques- tions of context-sensitiveapplication? J.H.: The logic of discoursesof applicationcan be examinedfromthe normative point of view of the philosopher or the legal theorist; Dworkin provides both examples of this and a theory, and Klaus Gunther puts this approachinto a convincingdiscourse-theoreticalframework.He shows that both the principleof appropriatenessand the principleof universalizationallowimpartialityto become operative in the rationaltreatment of practicalquestions and makes possible a rationallymotivatedconsensusin thisfield. In discoursesof applicationwe alsorely on reasons which can hold good not only for you and me but for all others too. One must avoid jumping to a conclusion: an analyticalapproachthat requires sensitivityto contextdoes not haveto be itselfcontext-dependentorleadto context- dependent results.


T.H.N.: The Howinson Lecture is very outspoken, that the ethical issues - in contrastto the moralquestions- do not requirea completebreakwithanegocentric perspective:'they refer, after all, to the telos of one's own life' (1988b:7). And maxins are introducedas a bridgeor connectinglink between moralityand ethics 'becausetheycan be judgedaccordingto ethicalandmoralviewpoints'(p. 9). How arethe maximsrelatedto the normsbehindthe normativevalidityclaims?Do they requireboth empiricaland normativevalidity? J.H.: Yes, ethicalquestions,questionsof self-understanding,are relativeto the aimof my andyourgood life. We look backat ourownlife historyor ourtraditions andaskourselves,withthatambiguitywhichcharacterizesstrongpreferences,who we are and who we'd like to be. The answersmustthereforerelate to the context of a particularperspectiveon life, whichis assumedto be accepted by particular individualsor groups. Answers of this kind cannot be claimedto characterizean exemplaryform of life, bindingon all - whichis how Aristotle definedthe polis. But relativeto a given context, ethical questionscan be answeredrationally,that is, in such a way that they make sense for everybody- not just the individualor groupmost directlyaffected, fromwhose point of view the question was put. You touchedon anotherpoint:what are maxims?WithKantwe understandby maximsrules of action or habits which may constitutepracticesor even a whole way of living, by freeing an actor from the need to make constant decisions in everydayexistence. Kantwas thinkingabove all of the maximsof early capitalist society, stratifiedon the basisof tradesand professions.Now, I said in my lecture that maximscan be judged from an ethical and a moralpoint of view. What may be good for me, as I see myselfandwouldlike to be seen, is not necessarilyequally good for everyone else. Because maximscan be judged from two pointsof view, they themselvesbecome twofold in nature. And again, the normativediscussionwhich we are conductingat this moment must be distinguishedfrom a sociologicaldiscussion.Seen from the point of view of a sociological observer, maxims may recommend themselves as a class of phenomenaby whichthe concretemoralityof a groupcanbe studied.Maximshave social validity;they are thereby,at least insofaras they are not mere conventions, normativelybindingalso for the actorsthemselves.Hence we canchangeourpoint of view and move from observation to judgementby consideringwhether the reasonsfromwhichthey have selected their maximsare also good reasonsfor us. T.H.N.: The ethicalcognitivismis arguedagainstscepticism,andsets- as a point of departure- the moralsentimentsaside. However, they show up again;if not before, then in the applicationof the norms.The HowinsonLecturediscussesthem as a changingconstellationof 'reason' and 'will' in the applicationof practical reasonto pragmatic,criticalandnormativediscourses.But whatis the statusof the moralsentiment?Do the emotions and the habitsof the hearthave a right and a functionof their own? Or are they only - followingPiagetand Kohlberg- partof the socializationto rationalityand as suchsuperfluousonce rationalityis reached? J.H.: Moral feelings are both a big subject and a broad field, so just a few observationson this question. Firstly,moralfeelingsplay an importantrole in the constituting of moralpheno- mena.We willnotperceivecertainconflictsof actionasbeingat allmorallyrelevant if we do not feel that the integrityof a person is being threatenedor violated.


Feelings form the basis of our own perceptionthat somethingis moral. Anyone