[EM] critical theory - election methods as a remedy

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Mon Mar 9 01:29:01 PDT 2009

Fred Gohlke wrote:

> Thank you for the Habermas reference.  As you say, his thought is
> central to the discussion on this thread.  I have not read 'The
> Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere', but a couple of
> years ago, my younger brother found considerable material about him
> for me. What I've read of Habermas' work 'light's my fire'...

You and he have similar aims.

> One of the reasons Habermas' work (and the work of Dr. Alasdair MacIntyre 
> at Notre Dame) seem so important to me is that they establish a basis for 
> additional academic work in the field.  I am not an academic, and I have no 
> idea whether any such work is underway...

There's a sense in which his work ought to be less academic, and more
practical.  He carries the torch for a branch of philosophy known as
the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory ^[1].  The aims of Critical
Theory are threefold: i) theoretical, to describe the structure and
function of society; ii) critical, to diagnose what is wrong with it;
and iii) remedial, to prescribe the means of correction.  But while
Habermas has contributed greatly to the theoretical and critical
aims,^[2,3] he has entirely neglected the remedial.  We are thus left
in a state of suspense, awaiting the prescription.

It happens that you have a prescription, in the form of an election
method.  It also happens that I have one, and it bears a resemblance
to yours.  Where the philosophers have provided the theory, therefore,
we may provide the practice.

[1] James Gordon Finlayson.  2007.  Political, moral and critical
    theory: on the practical philosophy of the Frankfurt School.  The
    Oxford Handbook of Continental Philosophy.  Edited by Brian Leiter
    and Michael Rosen.  Oxford University Press.

[2] Jürgen Habermas.  1981.  The Theory of Communicative Action.
    Volume 1.  Reason and Rationalization of Society.  Translated by
    Thomas McCarthy, 1984.  Beacon Hill, Boston.

[3] Jürgen Habermas.  1981.  The Theory of Communicative Action.
    Volume 2.  Lifeworld and System: a Critique of Functionalist
    Reason.  Translated by Thomas McCarthy, 1987.  Beacon Hill,
    Boston.  http://books.google.ca/books?id=7MjA1PfFWeQC

Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521

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