Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Habermas and Scharpf on Transnational Democracy in Europe

"Leviathan: Berliner Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaft" (vol. 43, no. 2, 2015) contains a new text by Jürgen Habermas:

Der Demos der Demokratie – eine Replik

"Fritz Scharpf assumes that national economic cultures and lifestyles within the European Monetary Union are too heterogeneous to allow a common democratic legislation on the basis of informal generalizable interests. Even if this were feasible, a democratically constituted Euro-Union is not even desirable. This variant of the well-known no-demos thesis relies implicitly on a political theory that the acceptance of democratic majority decisions is always dependent on an intact socially-inclusive implicite consensus of the citizens. The criticism is directed against both the philosophical presuppositions of this theory as well as against the application of the principle of the indisputable legal protection of cultural identities of unique national economic cultures. The common elements in a civil society which define its identity change not only as part of social evolution processes, they are formed by democratic involvement in civil societal processes of self-understanding. An expansion of the monetary union to a political union could stop the undemocratic connection of apparent nation-state sovereignty with the actually enforced technocratic compliance to market imperatives „without alternatives“. A return to national currencies, on the other hand, would mean resigning the progressingly political self-emasculation of policy to the globalized financial markets."

Habermas's comments are a response to Fritz Scharpf's "Das Dilemma der supranationalen Demokratie in Europa" (Leviathan vol. 43 no. 1, 2015), where Scharpf criticized Habermas's article ”Warum der Ausbau der Europäischen Union zu einer supranationalen Demokratie nötig und wie er möglich ist” (Leviathan vol. 42 no. 4, 2014). [An English translation of Habermas's article is available here.] 

Scharpf is responding to Habermas's comments in the same issue of Leviathan: "Deliberative Demokratie in der europäischen Mehrebenenpolitik – eine zweite Replik".

Essays on Honneth's "Freedom's Rights"

The current issue of "Critical Horizons: A Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory" (May 2015) features essays on Axel Honneth's book "Freedom's Right" (Columbia University Press, 2014) and a response by Honneth:

Misdevelopments, Pathologies, and Normative Revolutions [pdf] - Jörg Schaub

Honneth on Social Pathologies: A Critique [pdf] - Fabian Freyenhagen

Social Freedom and Self-Actualization [pdf] - David N. McNeill

Social Freedom and Progress in the Family - Lois McNay

Is the Market a Sphere of Social Freedom? [pdf] - Timo Jütten

Rejoinder - Axel Honneth

Friday, July 17, 2015

Habermas on the EU/Greece debt deal

A short interview with Habermas, published by "The Guardian" (July 16, 2015):

Habermas on the EU-Greece debt deal.

See reports in

- New York Times

- Liberation

See also Habermas's article on the Greek debt crisis (June 2015).

Friday, July 10, 2015

Kenneth Baynes on Habermas - A New Introduction


by Kenneth Baynes

(Routledge, August 2015)

256 pages


In this introduction Kenneth Baynes engages with the full range of Habermas’s philosophical work, addressing his early arguments concerning the emergence of the public sphere and his initial attempt to reconstruct a critical theory of society in Knowledge and Human Interests. He then examines one of Habermas’s most influential works, The Theory of Communicative Action, including his controversial account of the rational interpretation of social action. Also covered is Habermas’s work on discourse ethics, political and legal theory, including his views on the relation between democracy and constitutionalism, and his arguments concerning human rights and cosmopolitanism. The final chapter assesses Habermas’s role as a polemical and prominent public intellectual and his criticism of postmodernism in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, in addition to his more recent writings on the relationship between religion and democracy.


1. Life and Works 
2. Habermas’s Initial Attempts at a Critical Theory of Society 
3. The Theory of Communicative Action: Habermas’s Model of a Critical Social Science 
4. Habermas’s "Kantian Pragmatism" 
5. Locating Discourse Morality 
6. Democracy and the Rechtsstaat: Habermas’s Between Facts and Norms 
7. Deliberative Democracy, Public Reason, and Democracy Beyond the Nation-State 
8. A "Sobered" Philosophy: Postmodernism, Postmetaphysical Thinking, and Postsecularism 
9. Conclusion

Kenneth Baynes is Professor of Philosophy at Syracuse University, USA. He is the author of "The Normative Grounds of Social Criticism: Kant, Rawls and Habermas" (State University of New York Press, 1992) and co-editor (with Rene von Schomberg) of "Discourse and Democracy. Essays on Habermas's Between Facts and Norms" (State University of New York Press, 2002).


"An exceptionally valuable introduction and guide to the career of Jürgen Habermas. Baynes links Habermas’s work to debates in recent American analytic philosophy, as well as to that of prominent European thinkers, whose significance Baynes clearly explains. This book will inform professional philosophical discussion, and also serve as an accessible and always reliable guide for graduate and advanced undergraduate courses." - Hugh Baxter, Boston University.

"Baynes' book is at once an up-to-date synthesis centered on the leitmotif of Kantian pragmatism, a summary of Habermas’s debates with major interlocutors in Continental and Analytic philosophy, a probing critique of his social and political theory, and a lucid, concise, and accessible introduction suitable for teaching. It is the most successful overview of Europe’s most prominent philosopher and social thinker now available." - Matthew Specter, Central Connecticut State University.

"Baynes really knows his Habermas and he writes clearly and fluidly. Accessible and sophisticated at the same time, scholar and undergraduate alike will find this book a worthwhile read." - Simone Chambers, University of Toronto.

Other introductions to Habermas:

James Gordon Finlayson - Habermas: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2005)

Lasse Thomassen - Habermas: A Guide for the Perplexed (Continuum, 2010)

David Ingram - Habermas - Introduction and Analysis (Cornell University Press, 2010)