Habermas’ Between Facts and Norms: Legitimizing Power? Essay

Habermas’ Between Facts and Norms: Legitimizing Power? Essay

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Habermas’ Between Facts and Norms: Legitimizing Power?


ABSTRACT: To overcome the gap between norms and facts, Habermas appeals to the medium of law which gives legitimacy to the political order and provides it with its binding force. Legitimate law-making itself is generated through a procedure of public opinion and will-formation that produces communicative power. Communicative power, in turn, influences the process of social institutionalization. I will argue that the revised notion of power as a positive influence that is produced in communicative space runs contrary to Habermas’ original concept of power in his theory of communicative action where power is understood as a coercive force that has to be avoided in order for the discursive situation to prevail. As such, I believe that the introduction of communicative power and its close tie to ‘legitimate law’ and political system greatly reduces our critical ability with respect to political systems as exercised in liberal-democratic states. In addition, I will argue that his revision alludes to a redrawing of the boundaries between the life-world and the system in favor of the latter, and consequently indicates a shift to the right in Habermas’ latest work.

To overcome the gap between norms and facts, Habermas appeals to the medium of law, which gives legitimacy to the political order and provides the system with its binding force. Legitimate law-making itself is generated through a procedure of public opinion and will-formation that produces communicative power. In its turn, communicative power influences the process of social institutionalization.

I will argue that the revised notion of power as a positive influence that is produced in communicative space, runs c...


... middle of paper ...


...’ new elaboration on the deliberative model of its substantive force; once again confronting it with the Hegelian charge of emptiness and ineffectiveness.

(6) Habermas’ claim that Kant subordinates law to morality—because the legitimacy of law is derived from the categorical imperative—can be contested. If one sees that for Kant the categorical imperative underlies both law and morality, one can object to the use of the term "subordinate" by Habermas as an inaccurate description of the relation between law and morality.

(7) J.Habermas, "Three Normative Models of Democracy", in Constellation, Vol. I, No:1, 1994, p. 8

(8) J.Habermas, "The Entwinement of Myth and Enlightenment: Rereading Dialectic of Enlightenment", in New German Critique, No:26, 1982, p. 27

(9) Habermas dedicates chapter six of BFN to elaborate on the role of constitutional adjudication.

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