Sunday, September 3, 2006

desiring good society

I'm enthusiastic about Maeve Cook's recent Re-Presenting the Good Society, which I expressed to the Habermas list. But I deleted some thoughts educed by looking at her book:

That enthusiasm arises from my own hopes for a neo-Habermasian approach to things—including the difference between "the ethical" and "the moral" (which has been with me for a long time (e.g., Sep, 97 and Oct, 97: 2, 5, and 11).

Lifeworlds may be reflectively deepened to universalistic proportions, which is Habermas' recent sense of an "ethic of the species" (I would argue), potentially forming anthropologically deep-seated solidarities that may be validly transcultural. Such proportions don't call for transcendental objects (contrary to Cook), rather an evolutionary-historical approach to learning processes that expresses transcultural developmental and existential values. (I don't expect that claim to seem intuitively plausible.)

Distinctively "moral" understanding pertains to (1) compensations for the inability of ethical life to adequately include the other (which is a therapeutic or emancipatory function of impartial perspectivity), which isn't in principle unavailable to ethical life; and (2) distinctively "moral" understanding pertains to need for universalistic impartiality in regulation, particularly legislative processes.

Anytime there is a conflict of ethical views, an impartial (or at least bipartisan) venue of resolution may be required (or else—commonly the case—the disputants construct a simulation of this between them which accomplishes resolution). The range here is not universalistic, but only that of principle (D) in JH's discourse ethics. I see no problem grounding the value and cognitive character of impartiality in the ethical cognitivity of good individuation, in a transcultural sense.

Legislation requires a satisficial approximation of Habermas' principle (U), such that legislation is always susceptible to review and revision. One might not recognize a "satisficial" view as distinctly Habermasian, but I would argue that he would accept this portrait of his view—and I've shown preliminarily how to do this via the "pragmatics of justification."

I think that a sense of the ethic of the species can be clarified, in anthropological terms (I'm confident that available research enables this), that (1) shows the evolutionary character of basic (transcultural) values (solidarities) without transcendental objectivism (in a phrase: replacing structural thinking with a process sense of basic concepts, as Ruth Millikan does); and (2) shows transcultural grounding for a formal pragmatics that directly entails universalistic impartiality for the depth-structural reflectivity of ethical life. Accordingly, the motivation for fidelity to universalistic programs may be seen to arise from one's ownmost human interests.