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Jürgen Habermas overemphasises the role of the public sphere in his theory of law and democracy

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Habermas's public sphere and his theory of law and democracy.
    1. Habermas's definiton of the public sphere.
    2. An ideal of unrestricted rational discussion of public matters
    3. Habermas defense of the principles of popular sovereignty.
    4. The growing intervention of formal systems as parallel to developments of the welfare state.
  3. The role of the public sphere in Habermas's theory of law and democracy.
    1. Five assumptions that are central to Habermas's conception of the public sphere.
    2. Habermas's call for a renewed democratization of public institutions.
  4. Conclusion.
  5. Bibliography.

Jürgen Habermas (born June 18, 1929 in Düsseldorf) is a German philosopher, political scientist and sociologist in the tradition of critical theory. His work focuses on the analysis of advanced capitalist industrial society and of democracy and the rule of law in a critical social-evolutionary context, and contemporary politics.
He is best known for his concept of the public sphere. He developed a theoretical system committed to disclosing the possibility of reason, human liberation and rational-critical communication embedded in modern liberal institutions and in the human capabilities to communicate, deliberate and pursue rational interests. Habermas's theory distinguishes itself from the rationalist tradition by locating rationality in structures of interpersonal linguistic communication rather than in the structure of either the cosmos or the knowing subject.

[...] As Habermas puts it: "Our investigation presents a stylized picture of the liberal elements of the bourgeois public sphere and of their transformation in the social-welfare state."[25] The book's historical optic grounds it in the Institute for Social Research's endeavor of developing a critical theory of the contemporary era, and its political aspirations position it as a critique of the decline of democracy in the present age and a call for its renewal themes that would remain central to Habermas's thought. [...]


[...] Habermas, The Inclusion of the Other, p.257 In his own summary: ?Legality can produce legitimacy only to the extent that the legal order reflexively responds to the need for justification that originates from the positivization of law and responds in such a manner that legal discourses are institutionalized in ways made pervious to moral argumentation.? Habermas, Law and Morality, 243-4 Habermas wants democracy not for instrumental reasons, but because it is only democratic institutions that can sustain a culture of justification. [...]


[...] Habermas's public sphere and his theory of law and democracy Habermas defined the public sphere as a body of ?private people gathered together as a public and articulating the needs of society with the state."[4] The bourgeois public sphere, which began appearing around 1700 in Habermas's interpretation, was to mediate between the private concerns of individuals in their familial, economic, and social life contrasted to the demands and concerns of social and public life. This involved mediation of the contradiction between bourgeois and citoyen, to use terms developed by Hegel and the early Marx, overcoming private interests and opinions to discover common interests and to reach societal consensus.[5] The public sphere consisted of organs of information and political debate such as newspapers and journals, as well as institutions of political discussion such as parliaments, political clubs, literary salons, public assemblies, coffee houses, meeting halls, and other public spaces where socio-political discussion took place. [...]

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