It may delay, perhaps, but certainly does not ameliorate any aspect of the condition of the world. However, why mention voices of scholars who are not IR specialists when I am to write about International Relations? Wherever their participants come from, these debates are relevant to all of us in IR. The turn to religion becomes the turn to, or on, international relations.
International relations lower case is no longer the exclusive domain of the one hundred-year-old Western initially Anglo-American IR discipline. Far from it. Even if the IR scholars do not share these apprehensions, this is of relevance to IR scholarship, for, to use a clumsy metaphor, it is as though we sit on a branch of a tree studying its every minute detail, and others, who do not sit with us on the same branch but are looking at the tree from afar, are saying that the tree, if not the entire forest—and we with it—might topple over. We can either stay behind the wagons, huddled on our branch, or think about what the study of world affairs for the changed world of the 21st century might look like.
Following are some brief observations about these choices. In my view, IR was effectively downgraded to one of many subfields or subdisciplines of political science Bellin ,  to whose methodology it is subordinated. My professional trajectory colors my biases. Since the positivist turn, the US IR has been overwhelmingly and predominantly committed to quantitative methods, as is empirically documented in its self-study, published in the issue of International Studies Quarterly , a house publication of the International Studies Association ISA Maliniak et al.
For those interested in taking a turn to religion in the US IR subfield, it is compulsory reading, as it describes the main three paradigms of the US IR and defines positivism and positivist methods as they dominate US IR. When the constructivist turn was introduced to IR, the fact that it was presented from the position of the post-positivist and linguistic turn Onuf , was immediately overlooked. In the US IR, the constructivist turn was turned into a positivist version of constructivism and incorporated into the US IR as one of its three mainstream paradigms.
Alas, this is the point. The views of those who are so qualified do not pass the strict scientific test of political science. This is made clear in a book review by Bellin in World Politics , where he compared the treatment of religion in the two subfields of political science. Because of the clarity of its main argument, often implied rather than spelled out in other works, a summary of the main points of this rather large book review and quotes from it follow , When comparing the advance in regard to studying religion of the two subfields of political science, i.
It has, according to Bellin, managed to gain insights in regard to the rationality of religious behavior. Bellin suggested doing in IR something similar to what was done in Comparative Politics, namely, establishing a religious economy school or the religious market theory, applying microeconomic analysis and the logic of rational choice to the study of religion, embracing an economic model of church behavior as an economic firm. IR books that deal with religion, claimed Bellin, want to bring religion back into international relations, bemoaning the exile of religion from IR, insisting that religion matters, and calling for a paradigm shift that would acknowledge the centrality of religion in international affairs.
Thus, the problem, argued Bellin, is not that the question of religion has been overlooked in international affairs so much as that it has been undertheorized [sic] along the lines of theoretical guidelines of political science. A good deal of this literature, she argued, is the work of historians, sociologists, and theologians. While these studies are analytically rich and insightful, they also are largely idiographic rather than nomothetic in ambition. They offer excellent case studies of transnational religious institutions that broker peace or religious fundamentalist movements that embrace violence.
Religion, after all, according to Bellin, is a subset of ideas and is handled adequately by liberal IR scholarship. I never know quite where I am and how to get out Waltz Habermas, who does not seem to be an adherent of any religion, recognizes nevertheless that religion helps people who live in the modern secular society from being overwhelmed by an all-encompassing demand of a materially driven life and worldly success of a capitalist society. Religion, he has claimed, offers a much-needed dimension of otherness: the religious values of love, community, and godliness to help to offset the global dominance of competitiveness, acquisitiveness, and manipulation characteristic of Western society in its current global, multifaceted crisis.
This translation is necessary to render religious idioms publicly available albeit subordinated to the language of reason. This is obviously a form of linguistic constructivism of the Wittgenstein language games variety, but it is difficult to imagine how it would work. Dalmayr challenged the assumption that there is a standard public discourse with a readily accessible language, while religious language is odd, obsolete, esoteric, and essentially irrational. In a series of articles published for the benefit of the US IR audience, Ashley made more accessible the continental philosophy of the post-positivist, post-structuralist variety .
It is even more important that IR scholars do not ignore the debates on religion and international relations even if their participants hail from outside their discipline or subfield just because they are written in a technically very difficult idiom — different from their own — but equally technically difficult. The return of religion brought with it a greater degree of worldwide intellectual dissonance than did any other debate that I recall. There is also a large scholarly literature on Islam not referred to here, which compounds the dissonance. Other than among the US IR scholars, who do not seem to perceive any major crisis, there seems to be a consensus that the world is going through a profound change, i.
Humanity has passed through historical stages: Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the modern era. The Renaissance began with individuals treating things that seemed to be alike as, indeed, alike. The cosmos was made of one thing, and matter and human beings were part of it. The laws of matter applied to both. This led to a certain way of thinking about social matters; moreover, it did so with such force that it has continued to permeate our thinking to this day, even as the Classical and Modern episteme, commencing in about and , opened new spaces for what it is possible to know.
In effect, each larger space is superimposed on the one before. Thus, the Renaissance belief in similitude — i. Only once this was done, was it possible for observers to make causal inferences about the relationship between them. It was 19th century physics that provided the archetype for the positivist thrust toward modernist social science in IR, as well as to different degrees in other disciplines. My main concern is with what we teach before it becomes clear in which direction humanity might advance.
I propose to broaden what we teach in IR classes to include the gist of debates set in motion by the return of religion to IR, irrespective of the disciplinary provenance of such views. It is also mandatory that students of world affairs know what the major religions have to say about what is going on in the world. Those, too, as they have mushroomed since the beginning of the 20th century, have been a part of the space of knowledge, i. With Nicholas Onuf she co-chaired a post-positivist constructivist Miami Theory group and has co-edited a M.
Sharpe series, International Relations in a Constructed World. Her most recent concern is with what we teach in IR and the use of information technology to facilitate a broadening of the very narrow scope of what the American IR discipline covers. She can be contacted on vkubalkova miami. Ashley, Richard K. A Perspective from International Relations.
Like Kant, he considers morality a matter of unconditional moral obligations: the prohibitions, positive obligations, and permissions that regulate interaction among persons. The task of moral theory is to reconstruct the unconditional force of such obligations as impartial dictates of practical reason that hold for any similarly situated agent. Also like Kant, Habermas links morality with respect for autonomous agency: in following the dictates of impartial reason, one follows one's own conscience and shows respect for other such agents. Unlike Kant, however, Habermas takes a dialogical approach to practical reason, as his discourse theory requires.
Kant assumed that in principle each mature, reflective individual, guided by the Categorical Imperative, could reach the same conclusions about what duty requires. This assumption has long been recognized as problematic, but in pluralistic and multicultural settings it becomes entirely untenable: one may plausibly claim to take an impartial moral point of view only by engaging in real discourse with all those affected by the issue in question. Habermas's D -Principle articulates this dialogical requirement. If one assumes this requirement, then one can arrive at Habermas's specific conception of reasonable moral discourse by working out the implications of his argumentation theory for the discursive testing of unconditional moral obligations.
Habermas maintains that U can be deduced from statements articulating the pragmatic implications of argumentative discourse over moral norms a, 86—93; a, 39— More precisely, a successful deduction probably depends on three assumptions: D , a statement of the semantics of unconditional norms, and an articulation of the pragmatics of discourse Rehg ; cf. Ott If we accept D and if we accept Habermas's explication of the rhetorical presuppositions of the discursive justification required by D , then U would have to follow as an implication of what is required for discursively justifying norms with the specific content of moral norms, namely obligations that bind persons in general and whose acceptance thus affects each person's pursuit of interests and the good life.
From the standpoint of argumentation theory, U seems to state the burden of proof that structures an adequate process and procedure of justification. However, the U -Principle has been a site of controversy among discourse theorists, and not everyone considers it necessary for a discourse ethics Benhabib and Dallmayr ; Wellmer ; Gottschalk-Mazouz Some feminist proponents of an "ethics of care" have worried that Habermas's neo-Kantian model of universalization screens out morally relevant particularities of concrete situations and persons Young ; Benhabib , chap.
Whether or not the argument for U goes through, Habermas's discourse ethics depends on some very strong assumptions about the capacity of persons for moral dialogue. Given that his discourse theory in general, and thus U in particular, rests on counterfactual idealizations, one might be tempted to regard U as a hypothetical thought experiment, analogous to what we find in other neo-Kantian or contractualist theories like those of John Rawls and T.
To some extent this is correct: to regard a moral norm as valid, one must presume it would hold up in a fully inclusive and reasonable discourse. But Habermas takes a further step, insisting that U is a principle of real discourse: an individual's moral judgment counts as fully reasonable only if it issues from participation in actual discourse with all those affected. Moreover, U requires not simply that one seek the input of others in forming one's conscience, but that one gain their reasonable agreement.
To bring such strong idealizations down to earth, one must connect them with conscientious judgment in everyday moral practice. One way to do this is through an account of the appropriate application of moral rules in concrete circumstances. In moral discourses of application, one must test alternative normative interpretations of the particular situation for their acceptability before the limited audience of those immediately involved, on the assumption that one is applying valid general norms.
But even at the level of application, discourse cannot always include all the affected parties e. Habermas's discourse ethics thus implies that for many, if not most, of our moral rules and choices, the best we can achieve are partial justifications: arguments that are not conclusively convincing for all, but also are not conclusively defeated, in limited discourses with interlocutors we regard as reasonable cf.
Rehg , Habermas has also attempted to give discourse ethics some empirical foothold by looking to moral psychology and social anthropology a, — The psychological line of argument draws on the theory of communicative action to reconstruct theories of moral development such as Lawrence Kohlberg's. According to Habermas, moral maturation involves the growing ability to integrate the interpersonal perspectives given with the system of personal pronouns; the endpoint of that process coincides with the capacity to engage in the mutual perspective-taking required by U. The anthropological line of argument focuses on identity formation, drawing on the social psychology of G.
In broad agreement with Hegelian models of mutual recognition, Mead understands the individual's development of a stable personal identity as inextricably bound up with processes of socialization that depend on participation in relationships of mutual recognition. Habermas extends this analysis to respond to feminist and communitarian criticisms of impartialist, justice-based moralities ibid. Such moralities, critics allege, assume an implausibly atomistic view of the self.
Thus they fail to appreciate the moral import of particularity and cultural substance: particular relationships between unique individuals, on the one hand, and membership in particular cultural communities or traditions, on the other for feminist critiques, see Benhabib ; Meehan ; for a communitarian argument, see Taylor Mead's analysis shows that the critics are on to an important point: if individuation depends on socialization, then any anthropologically viable system of morality must protect not only the integrity of individuals but also the web of relationships and cultural forms of life on which individuals depend for their moral development.
Discourse ethics, Habermas claims, meets this two-fold demand in virtue of the kind of mutual perspective-taking it requires. If we examine U , we see that it requires participants to attend to the values and interests of each person as a unique individual; conversely, each individual conditions her judgment about the moral import of her values and interests on what all participants can freely accept. Consequently, moral discourse is structured in a way that links moral validity with solidaristic concern for both the concrete individual and the morally formative communities on which her identity depends.
These arguments are certainly ambitious, and they raise as many questions as they answer. It is hardly surprising, then, that many commentators have not been persuaded by discourse ethics as a normative ethics. Rather, they regard it as plausible only in the context of democratic politics, or as a model for the critical evaluation of formal dialogues e.
Other critics have targeted discourse ethics at a metaethical level. In fact, Habermas first unveiled his moral theory in answer to moral non-cognitivism and skepticism a, 43— In this context, U explicates a moral epistemology: what it means for moral statements to count as justified.
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If moral statements are justifiable, then they have a cognitive character in the sense that they are correct or not depending on how they fare in reasonable discourse. However, Habermas proposes U not merely as articulating a consensus model of moral justification, but as an explication of the meaning of rightness itself. Unlike truth, the rightness of a moral norm does not consist in reference to an independently existing realm of objects, but rather in the worthiness of the norm for intersubjective recognition.
Thus rightness, unlike truth, means ideal warranted assertibility b, 93; a, chap. This antirealist interpretation of discourse ethics has been challenged, however, with some critics advocating a realist interpretation of rightness, others a deflationary approach Lafont , chap. Habermas's discourse theory of law and politics. The central task of Habermas's democratic theory is to provide a normative account of legitimate law.
His deliberative democratic model rests on what is perhaps the most complex argument in his philosophical corpus, found in his Between Facts and Norms b; German ed. Boiled down to its essentials, however, the argument links his discourse theory with an analysis of the demands inherent in modern legal systems, which Habermas understands in light of the history of Western modernization. The analysis thus begins with a functional explanation of the need for positive law in modern societies. This analysis picks up on points he made in TCA see sec.
Societies are stable over the long run only if their members generally perceive them as legitimate: as organized in accordance with what is true, right, and good. In premodern Europe, legitimacy was grounded in a shared religious worldview that penetrated all spheres of life. As modernization engendered religious pluralism and functional differentiation autonomous market economies, bureaucratic administrations, unconstrained scientific research , the potentials for misunderstanding and conflict about the good and the right increased—just as the shared background resources for the consensual resolution of such conflicts decreased.
When we consider this dynamic simply from the standpoint of the D -principle, the prospects for legitimacy in modern societies appear quite dim. Sociologically, then, one can understand modern law as a functional solution to the conflict potentials inherent in modernization. By opening up legally defined spheres of individual freedom, modern law reduces the burden of questions that require general society-wide discursive consensus.
Within these legal boundaries, individuals are free to pursue their interests and happiness as they see fit, normally through various modes of association, whether that pursuit is primarily governed by modes of strategic action as in economic markets , by recognized authority or consensual discourse e. Consequently, modern law is fundamentally concerned with the definition, protection, and reconciliation of individual freedoms in their various institutional and organizational contexts.
The demands on the legitimation of law change with this functional realignment: to be legitimate, modern law must secure the private autonomy of those subject to it. The legal guarantee of private autonomy in turn presupposes an established legal code and a legally defined status of equal citizenship in terms of actionable basic rights that secure a space for individual freedom. However, such rights are expressions of freedom only if citizens can also understand themselves as the authors of the laws that interpret their rights—that is, only if the laws that protect private autonomy also issue from citizens' exercise of public autonomy as lawmakers acting through elected representatives.
Thus, the rights that define individual freedom must also include rights of political participation. The exercise of public autonomy in its full sense presupposes participants who understand themselves as individually free privately autonomous , which in turn presupposes that they can shape their individual freedoms through the exercise of public autonomy.
This equiprimordial relationship, Habermas believes, enables his discourse theory to combine the best insights of the civic republican and classical liberal traditions of democracy, which found expression in Rousseau and Locke, respectively a, chap. Habermas b, chap.
Because these rights are abstract, each polity must further interpret and flesh them out for its particular historical circumstances, perhaps supplementing them with further welfare and environmental rights. In any case, the system of rights constitutes a minimum set of normative institutional conditions for any legitimate modern political order.
The system of rights, in other words, articulates the normative framework for constitutional democracies, within which further institutional mechanisms such as legislatures and other branches of government must operate. The idea of public autonomy means that the legitimacy of ordinary legislation must ultimately be traceable to robust processes of public discourse that influence formal decisionmaking in legislative bodies. Decisions about laws typically involve a combination of validity claims: not only truth claims about the likely consequences of different legal options, but also claims about their moral rightness or justice , claims about the authenticity of different options in light of the polity's shared values and history, and pragmatic claims about which option is feasible or more efficient.
Legitimate laws must pass the different types of discursive tests that come with each of these validity claims. Habermas also recognizes that many issues involve conflicts among particular interests that cannot be reconciled by discursive agreement on validity but only through fair bargaining processes. This puts his democratic principle in a rather puzzling position. On the one hand, it represents a specification of the discourse principle for a particular kind of discourse legal-political discourse.
This makes it analogous to the moral principle U , which specifies D for moral discourse. As a specific principle of reasonable discourse, the democratic principle seems to have the character of an idealizing presupposition insofar as it presumes the possibility of consensual decisionmaking in politics. For Habermas, reasonable political discourse must at least begin with the supposition that legal questions admit in principle of single right answers c, —95 , or at least a set of discursively valid answers on which a fair compromise, acceptable to all parties, is possible.
This highly cognitive, consensualist presumption has drawn fire even from sympathetic commentators. One difficulty lies in Habermas's assumption that in public discourse over controversial political issues, citizens can separate the moral constraints on acceptable solutions, presumably open to general consensus, from ethical-political and pragmatic considerations, over which reasonable citizens may reasonably disagree. As various critics have pointed out, this distinction is very hard to maintain in practice, and perhaps in theory as well Bohman ; McCarthy ; Warnke On the other hand, the democratic principle lies at a different level from principles like U , as Habermas himself emphasizes b, The latter specify D for this or that single type of practical discourse, in view of internal cognitive demands on justification, whereas the former pulls together all the forms of practical discourse and sets forth conditions on their external institutionalization.
From this perspective, the democratic principle acts as a bridge that links the cognitive aspects of political discourse as a combination of the different types of idealized discourse with the demands of institutional realization in complex societies. As such, the democratic principle should refer not to consensus, but rather to something like a warranted presumption of reasonableness.
In fact, in a number of places Habermas describes democratic legitimacy in just such terms, which we might paraphrase as follows: citizens may regard their laws as legitimate insofar as the democratic process, as it is institutionally organized and conducted, warrants the presumption that outcomes are reasonable products of a sufficiently inclusive deliberative process of opinion- and will-formation , When these arenas work well together, civil society and the public sphere generate a set of considered public opinions that then influence the deliberation of lawmakers In light of the above ambiguity in the status of D , however, one might want to take a more pragmatic approach to democratic deliberation.
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Such an approach e. Habermas's discourse theory also has implications for international modes of deliberation—hence for the debate about a potential cosmopolitan political order. To understand his position in this debate, it helps to sketch a typology of the main theories. The current discussion moves along four main axes: political or social, institutional or noninstitutional, democratic or nondemocratic, and transnational or cosmopolitan. Theories are informed by background assumptions about the scope of cosmopolitanism: whether it is moral to the extent that it is concerned with individuals and their life opportunities, social to the extent that it makes associations and institutions central, or political to the extent that it focuses on specifically legal and political institutions, including citizenship.
Habermas's position in this debate is moderate. It is not minimal in the sense of Rawls's law of peoples, which denies the need for any strong international legal or political order, much less a democratic one. Nor is it a strongly democratic position, such as David Held's version of cosmopolitan order. However, both Held and Habermas share a common emphasis on the emergence of international public law as central to a just global political order.
Democracy on the nation-state model connects three central ideas: that the proper political community is a bounded one; that it possesses ultimate political authority; and that this authority enables political autonomy, so that the members of the demos may freely choose the conditions of their own association and legislate for themselves. The normative core of this conception of democracy lies in the conception of freedom articulated in the third condition: that the subject of legal constraints is free precisely in being the author of the laws.
If this applies to the modern state, then it would seem that cosmopolitan democracy would take this trend even further. For Held , cosmopolitan democracy is clearly continuous with democracy, at least in form, as it is realized within states. Held's approach thus has three enormous advantages: an emphasis on a variety of institutions; a multiplicity of levels and sites for common democratic activity; and a focus on the need for organized political actors in international civil society to play an important role in a system of global democracy.
Contrary to his earlier essay on Kant's Perpetual Peace, Habermas has now pulled back from Held's strong conception of cosmopolitanism. In The Postnational Constellation a; German ed. Still, he cannot have it both ways. This is because he clearly, and indeed surprisingly, makes self-determination through legislation the deciding criterion of democracy. Consequently, at the transnational level, the fundamental form of political activity is negotiation among democracies.
This demos is at best a civic, rather than political, transnational order. More recently, he argues that regulatory political institutions at the global level could be effective only if they take on features of governance without government, even if human rights as juridical statuses must be constitutionalized in the international system , — As in the case of Allen Buchanan's minimalism, this less demanding standard of legitimacy does not include the capacity to deliberate about the terms governing the political authority of the negotiation system itself.
This position is transnational, but ultimately nondemocratic, primarily because it restricts its overly robust deliberative democracy to the level of the nation state. The stronger criteria for democracy are not applied outside the nation state, where governance is only indirectly democratic and left to negotiations and policy networks.
Furthermore, the commitment to human rights as legal statuses pushes Habermas in the direction of Held's fundamentally legal form of political cosmopolitanism. At the moment, Habermas's view of cosmopolitan politics is not yet fully stable. But it is clear that he thinks that a cosmopolitan order must be political and not merely juridical ; institutional and not merely organized informally or by policy networks ; transnational to the extent that it would be like the European Union, an order of political and legal orders ; and in some sense democratic or at least subject to democratic norms.
However, in order for him to fully adopt this last characteristic of the international system, he will have to rethink his conception of democracy as self-legislation. If he does not do so, it seems impossible to fit democracy onto a transnational rather than fully Kantian cosmopolitan order. On the topic of religion, Habermas has taken a nuanced position that continues to develop. In his Theory of Communicative Action , he treated religion primarily from a sociological perspective, as an archaic mode of social integration.
Since then, however, he has explored the role of religion in politics, on the one hand, and the relationships between religious and philosophical modes of discourse, on the other. At the same time, Habermas insists on the difference between theological and philosophical modes of discourse: as a reflection on faith, theology must not renounce its basis in religious experience and ritual. Consequently, he resists apologetic attempts to generate religious belief from philosophical premises. Habermas has further developed his views on the relation between philosophy and faith in his dialogue with Cardinal Ratzinger who would become Pope Benedict XVI b; German ed.
The Christian idea of human beings as created in the image of God has been especially important for Western moral-political theory, which translated the religious idea into the secular view of persons as equal in dignity and deserving unconditional respect ibid. This assimilation of Christian ideas does not gut their substance, however. In acknowledging that religious modes of expression can harbor an integral cognitive content that is not exhausted by secular translations, Habermas seems to have located the boundaries of his methodological experiment in demythologization.
He thus calls for a dialogue in which secular and religious forms of thought mutually inform and learn from each other. At the center of contention are the duties of believing citizens to translate their religiously based claims into secular, publicly accessible reasons.
Audi places the heaviest burden on believers, requiring them to support only those laws for which they have sufficient public reasons; each citizen thus has a duty to translate religiously based arguments into secular ones. For Habermas, Audi and Rawls underestimate the existential force of religious belief—how such belief can, at least for some believers, provide the only sufficient basis for their political views, even when public reasons might also be taken as supporting the views in question.
The demand that believers translate their comprehensive religious views into secular justifications imposes undue burdens on believers of this sort. The demand for translation, rather, pertains only to politicians and public officials with institutional power to make, apply, and execute the law. As Habermas reads them, Weithmann and Wolterstorff take the opposite line from Rawls and Audi, opening up public discourse to untranslated religious arguments. Weithmann requires believers to argue for their positions as good for everyone, but he allows them to frame such arguments within their religiously based conception of justice.
Wolterstorff removes even this mild constraint. Both thinkers do not impose any institutional filter: not only in the public sphere but also in the halls of power, religious reasons can suffice to justify coercive legal and administrative decisions. Indeed, Wolterstorff seems to reject a key idea behind democratic legitimation, namely the presumption that procedures and decisions should operate within a background framework of principles acceptable to all citizens.
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Consequently, it is unclear how a democracy should maintain its legitimacy and avoid devolving into an endless strife of factions simply vying for power. In the background of these debates lay contention over the burdens of citizenship. Believers might object that Habermas still places an asymmetric burden on them. After all, they must eventually, at the institutional level, shift over to secular modes of justification, whereas non-believers need not carry out the same kind of move toward religious justification. In response, Habermas has offered the hypothesis that both believers and non-believers are involved in a complementary learning process in which each side can learn from the other.
As a cooperative learning process, translation makes demands on both sides: the believer must seek publicly accessible arguments, whereas the non-believer must approach religion as a potential source of meaning, as harboring truths about human existence that are relevant for all. In closing, we suggest three possible extensions to Habermas's reply to believers. First, one might note that in the West at least, Christians are not so burdened as one might think.
After all, some of the most important secular ideas that inform constitutional democracy—ideas of inalienable individual rights, liberty, and the like—partly originated in Christianity. Second, one might point out that a reverse duty of translation on non-believers would involve a far heavier burden than that on believers, particularly in light of the first point.
This is because some religious reasons, though they might have a surface intelligibility as propositions to non-believers, cannot be adequately appreciated or weighed apart from prolonged experience of living the faith. Although it remains important for non-believers to learn from believers, one should probably expect believers to have an epistemic advantage in the translation process, that is, the process of determining whether or not a given secular content adequately renders a religiously based reason.
So if believers have the greater burden, then that makes sense: believers are actually in a better position to make the translation. One might object that the second point presupposes an asymmetry between public secular reasons, to which both sides have access in principle, and religious reasons, to which only believers have initial and direct access. However, that objection supports Habermas's position, and so leads into the third extension of his view.
The objection calls into question the assumption that everyone should in principle have equal access to secular reason. Once we question that assumption, it is unclear why secular reasons should have a privileged place in political discourse. However, to reject the public position of secular reasons, at least in a pluralistic polity, is to say there is no public reason. Rather, each citizen's perspective, religious or not, is comprehensive and somewhat opaque to others. In that case, however, every citizen now faces burdens of translation that she can shoulder only with the interlocutor's assistance.
So the believer is not relieved of translation. Instead, everyone is now burdened by translation. To be sure, one might also remove the asymmetry between access to secular and religious reason by making each sort of discourse equally accessible to all in principle. But that view hardly does justice to the existential import of religious experience, and so should be rejected by believers. Important Transitional Works 3. Mature Positions 3. Important Transitional Works In the period between Knowledge and Human Interests and The Theory of Communicative Action , Habermas began to develop a distinctive method for elaborating the relationship between a theoretical social science of modern societies, on the one hand, and the normative and philosophical basis for critique, on the other.
Mature Positions To understand Habermas's mature positions, we must start with his Theory of Communicative Action TCA , a two-volume critical study of the theories of rationality that informed the classical sociologies of Weber, Durkheim, Parsons, and neo-Marxist critical theory esp. The Dialogue between Naturalism and Religion On the topic of religion, Habermas has taken a nuanced position that continues to develop.
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