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The Habermas-Rawls Debate
— —
James Finlayson
The Habermas-Rawls Debate by James Finlayson at Abbey's Bookshop,

The Habermas-Rawls Debate

James Finlayson


Columbia University Press

Western philosophy, from c 1900 -;
Social & political philosophy


312 pages

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Jurgen Habermas and John Rawls are perhaps the two most renowned and influential figures in social and political philosophy of the second half of the twentieth century. In the 1990s, they had a famous exchange in the Journal of Philosophy. Quarreling over the merits of each other's accounts of the shape and meaning of democracy and legitimacy in a contemporary society, they also revealed how great thinkers working in different traditions read-and misread-one another's work.

In this book, James Gordon Finlayson examines the Habermas-Rawls debate in context and considers its wider implications. He traces their dispute from its inception in their earliest works to the 1995 exchange and its aftermath, as well as its legacy in contemporary debates. Finlayson discusses Rawls's Political Liberalism and Habermas's Between Facts and Norms, considering them as the essential background to the dispute and using them to lay out their different conceptions of justice, politics, democratic legitimacy, individual rights, and the normative authority of law. He gives a detailed analysis and assessment of their contributions, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their different approaches to political theory, conceptions of democracy, and accounts of religion and public reason, and he reflects on the ongoing significance of the debate. The Habermas-Rawls Debate is an authoritative account of the crucial intersection of two major political theorists and an explication of why their dispute continues to matter.

By:   James Finlayson
Imprint:   Columbia University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm, 
ISBN:   9780231164115
ISBN 10:   0231164114
Pages:   312
Publication Date:   May 2019
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

Acknowledgments List of Abbreviations Introduction: Much Ado About Nothing I. The Early Debate 1. Two Nonrival Theories of Justice 2. Habermas's Early Criticisms of Rawls II. Habermas's and Rawls's Mature Political Theories 3. Habermas's Between Facts and Norms 4. Rawls's Political Liberalism III. The Exchange 5. Habermas's Reconciliation Through the Public Use of Reason 6. Rawls's Reply to Habermas 7. `Reasonable' Versus `True' : Habermas's Reply to Rawls's Reply IV. The Legacy of the Habermas-Rawls Debate 8. Religion Within the Bounds of Public Reason Alone Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index

James Gordon Finlayson is reader in philosophy and director of the Centre for Social and Political Thought at the University of Sussex. He is the author of numerous articles on post-Kantian philosophy and critical theory, as well as Habermas: A Very Short Introduction (2005), and the editor of Habermas and Rawls: Disputing the Political (2011).

Just at the moment when the Habermas-Rawls debate seemed to evanesce from the sight of the intellectual public, this brilliant book proves this first impression to be false: Gordon Finlayson succeeds in demonstrating with stupendous lucidity and admirable acuteness how topical the questions are that the two philosophers had discussed in their exchange on how best to conceive of the democratic principle of social equality. My guess is that it will be impossible in the near future to tackle normative questions within political philosophy without consulting this book.--Axel Honneth, author of Freedom's Right The Social Foundations of Democratic Life This will certainly be the go-to resource on this debate for anyone studying social or political philosophy in the future. Finlayson is the world's foremost expert on the Habermas-Rawls exchange. After reading this book, I'm not sure if there is anything left to be said on the topic; it's all here.--Joseph Heath, author of Communicative Action and Rational Choice

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