(U)klarhed – En kritik af Habermas’ diskursetik: (U)nclearness - A critique of Habermas's discourse ethics

Jeppe Madsen & Kristian Bisgaard Haug

Student thesis: Termpaper


This paper examines the discourse ethics of Jürgen Habermas, especially the principle of universalization (U). First we account for Habermas’ derivation of (U). In fact Habermas does not himself carry this out. He only suggests how one could. However, his suggestion is flawed; strictly formal speaking the argumentation of (U) is not sound. And the suggested derivation depends on accepting a couple of not articulated premises. Even if we accept these premises, it is still unclear why the exact content of (U) follows from the acclaimed necessary propositions of argumentation. Following the criticism of (U) of writers such as S. Benhabib, W. Rehg and others and the practical implications of (U), we discuss the possibilities of accepting (U), including his 1998 reformulation of the principle (U) - the overall principle on which the soundness of his discourse ethics depends. We find there are four possibilities. All of them not without problems compared to the ambitions of Habermas’ discourse ethics. Finally we examine his discourse ethics according to some overall criteria of assessments.

EducationsPhilosophy and Science Studies, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Undergraduate or graduate
Publication date7 Jan 2014
SupervisorsJesper Ryberg


  • Cognitivism
  • Habermas
  • The Principle of Universalization
  • Discourse Ethics