Reconstruction Of Habermas’ Discourse Ethics Vis-A-Vis Politics Of Inclusion

A Reconstruction Of Habermas’ Discourse Ethics Vis-A-Vis Politics Of Inclusion




In today’s contemporary societies, hardly can anyone tune in to any information media without being confronted with appalling scenarios of crises arising as a result of contacts among differing cultures of the world. This culture related crises, are primarily fuelled by different world-views informed by differing religious convictions among other factors. Different cultures in contact with one




ACCOUNT NUMBER: 3108050531

After payment, text the name of the project, email address and your names to 08064502337 another consciously or unconsciously struggle for supremacy, hence, the intractable crises that have characterised our modern societies. The phenomenon of meeting of different cultures in a particular locale is what in contemporary political ideology is termed multiculturalism. The accompanying crises as a result of these contacts as described above, amount to what is known as the challenges of multiculturalism or politics of inclusion. These challenges are writ-large in our modern societies. In some of the developed countries where these challenges have been tackled to a reasonable degree, people experience what Habermas described as:

Correctives to the unreasonably asymmetrical effects of general laws: the Sikhs are permitted to wear their turbans on motorcycles and carry their ritual dagger in public. Muslim women and girls may keep their ‘headscarves’ on in the workplace or in school. Jewish butchers are allowed to slaughter livestock and poultry according to kosher methods; and so forth.1

In developing countries, especially in Africa, challenges of multiculturalism are so raw that one experiences the idea of a particular world-view propelled by peculiar religious convictions trying to overwhelm others willy-nilly. The challenges of multiculturalism or politics of inclusion are multifacetedly, that is, metaphysically, cognitively, ethically, politically, affecting the countries of the world. That is why Chen in strong terms avers in the words of Karl Marx that:

A  Specter is haunting Europe, the specter of multiculturalism. All European societies are preoccupied with this specter. Indeed, multiculturalism is a specter not only to Europe, but also to the entire earth. From Europe to the Americas, Asia, Austria-Oceania, and Africa, the rolling thunder of globalization comes along with the gusty rain of multi-cultures. The shining sun of cosmopolitanism is shadowed by the staring ghost of multiculturalism. The rosy face of global justice radiates with the purple smile of cultural persuasions.2

Modern society portends the fact that the stage of viewing reality from a particular culture termed superior or dominant and, relegating the so-called inferior or minority cultures to the background, has passed. Different cultures are now clamouring for equal respect and recognition, hence the need for common consensus as the modus viviendi. According to Chambers:

The historical circumstances in which we, in modern liberal democracies, find ourselves, point to the conclusion that we can no longer share a common religious view nor a comprehensive moral outlook. The authority of tradition has been greatly weakened in a world where “nontraditional” perspectives are gaining an ever stronger voice. We have very little homogeneity to fall back on to do the work of keeping our world together when a normative dispute arises. Thus, we must construct a consensus; we can no longer appeal to one that is ready–made.3

It is in the reality of this challenging situation that a very influential contemporary German philosopher, Jürgen Habermas, enters the foray of solution proffering. Habermas called the described situation as either challenges of multiculturalism, problem of inclusion of the other or struggles for recognition in democratic constitutional state. These terms will be used interchangeably in this research work. Habermas comprehends the intense reality of the scenario, and as such, asserts that:

The challenge of multiculturalism is precisely analogous to the question of humanitarian intervention. Here too minorities seek protection from their own governments. But in the case of multiculturalism, discrimination takes place within the framework of a broadly legitimate constitutional state and takes the more subtle form of domination by a majority culture that has merged with the general political culture.4

Specifically, Habermas perceives  the problem of inclusion of the other (challenges of multiculturalism or struggles for  recognition) as concerned with one aspect of  the equal footing of citizens, or civic equality : that is, with  full membership.5 That , “ the struggles that relate to the recognition of a specific collective identity are based on a different kind of experience of injustice – not status deprivation but disregard, marginalization or exclusion depending on membership in a group considered as ‘inferior’ according to prevailing standards.”Therefore, for Habermas: “From this aspect of incomplete inclusion, overcoming religious discrimination is the pacemaker for a new kind of cultural rights.”7 Habermas’s solution to the above hydra headed challenges of multiculturalism is encapsulated in his theory of Discourse Ethics that he describes as a proposed programme of philosophical justification. It is a theory that accommodates basic individual rights and diverse cultural backgrounds of people making up a particular society.  That is why he stated that, “Discourse ethics defends a morality of equal respect and solidaristic responsibility for everybody.”8

Essentially related to Habermas’ explication of discourse ethics with regard to challenges of multiculturalism or incomplete inclusion of the other are the following themes: communicative rationality religion, fundamentalism, tolerance, discourse theory model of democracy and public sphere. Habermas perceives religious reasons as still relevant in our contemporary societies, but should be translated into secular language that is generally accessible to all. The above is embedded in his ideas of postmetaphysical society or post-secularism. This is because, religion is nonreflexive and undifferentiated. It is originally world-views fuelled by different religious convictions. It is the nonreflexivity and obstinate differences of convictions accompanying religion that make religion a hotbed for fundamentalism, argues Habermas. Fundamentalism, the system of insistence and imposition of a particular form of life on others, is unacceptable to Habermas. Hence, religious fundamentalism, for Habermas, has no place in the inclusion of the other, that is, in multicultural societies. Habermas advocates an inclusive society of tolerant people despite perceived cognitive differences, occasioned by, among other factors, diverse religious convictions. Hence he asserts, overcoming religious discrimination, that is, tolerant behaviour toward religions is the pacemaker for a new kind of cultural rights. “Cultural rights serve as does the freedom to practice one’s religion, the purpose of guaranteeing all citizens equal access to those associations, communication patterns, traditions and practices, which they respectively deem important in order to develop and maintain their personal identities.”9

See also  The Implication Of David Hume’s Philosophy Of Impressions And Ideas

The above themes are deep-seated in Habermas’ conceptualization of the challenges of multiculturalism which he believes his theory of discourse ethics is the solution. This research work, therefore, will be preoccupied with a dialogics of Habermas’ idea that discourse ethics is the panacea for the challenges of multiculturalism or the politics of inclusion, across the themes of Communicative rationality, Religion, Fundamentalism and Tolerance, Discourse Theory Model of Democracy and Public Sphere, which are integral to his discussion of the issue at stake.


In order to resolve the problem of incomplete inclusion of the other or the challenges of multiculturalism, Habermas proposed his programme of philosophical justification known as discourse ethics. This discourse ethics stands on universalizaiton principle (U) and discourse principle (D). Universalization principle stipulates that: “For a norm to be valid, the consequences and side-effects of its general observances for the satisfaction of each person’s particular interests must be freely accepted by all.”10 Discourse principle asserts that: “Every valid norm would meet with the approval of all concerned if they could take part in a practical discourse.”11 Habermas explains that the four most important features of discourse principle are: (i) no exclusion of anybody who can give relevant contribution, (ii) equal opportunity is given those involved to make contributions, (iii) sincerity ,that is, participants should mean what they voice out; and (iv) that communication must be devoid of force both external and internal in order that the “yes” or “no” positions that participants take on criticisable validity claims are inspired only by the rational force of the better reasons.12  Through these processes, Habermas maintains that different sub-cultures and forms of life can resolve their differences and harmoniously coexist in the background of liberal or common political culture.

The above postulations of Habermas notwithstanding, they evoke some important questions:  1. Can there be a realistic political culture without, first and foremost, provision of a pre-condition that predisposes the minds of citizens of multicultural societies on the supposition that human beings, irrespective of differences in skin colour, world-views, geographical locale, can harmoniously co-exist? In essence, the question is saying that the possibility of people who see themselves as enemies or strangers that suspect one another, living together in harmony is rather too difficult if not impossible. Therefore, to guarantee the possibility of harmonious living, there is the need for an orientation among them that instils in them the idea that they are one irrespective of their differences in skin colour, geographical location, cultural achievements, etc. It is an orientation, value of this nature that must be, first and foremost, inculcated in humanity before anybody can think of the reality of common political culture; that is, living together in peace and harmony after rational discussions. But Habermas did not think in this direction, but that is where the researcher thinks the main problem of challenges of multiculturalism emanates from. There is need for necessary and sufficient orientation, value that predisposes the minds of everyone that humanity is one and equal, and by extension culture, not minding the accidental differences that might be present. It is this primary orientation that will enable people of different cultures to first of all accept one another and then think of the possible ways to coexist peacefully. It is this orientation that will remove the mindset of some people seeing themselves as superior and others inferior which is the heart of the challenges of multiculturalism. Unfortunately, Habermas had no provision of this thought in his efforts in tackling the challenges of multiculturalism, hence, a problem.  2. Is Discourse Ethics encompassing enough to resolve conflicts arising from multiculturalism? This question opens up the fact that Habermas adopted a one-way approach in tackling the challenges that come up due to different cultures coming together in a particular place. He based his solution solely on rational discussion leading to mutual understanding. He did not think the use of violence when it becomes necessary. 3. Are there no vestiges of assimilation, that is, subtle forms of domination by dominant culture in common political culture of Habermas? This question addresses the issue that despite Habermas’ efforts to eliminate domination in its subtlest form, that it still persists in his proffered solution. That is, for Habermas to say that a visiting culture, in terms of immigrants, should enter into rational discussion with the host culture ­­­­–rational discussion being the signature of the host culture – already signifies a form of assimilation. This is a perceived problem that the researcher thinks Habermas did not successfully put paid to. The above questions make the statement of the problem of this research work.


The purpose of this study is, primarily, to provide a foundation  that validates and grounds the feasibility of Habermas’ idea of common political culture, and as such, realize genuine peaceful coexistence for multicultural societies. Equally, to argue, contra Habermas, that subtle form of assimilation still inheres in his idea of common political culture, and lastly, that discourse ethics appears incomplete a model to resolve the conflicts stemming from challenges of multiculturalism or politics of inclusion.


This work focuses on providing ideas that will help resolve conflicts already existing as a result of different cultures coming in contact. In doing this, it automatically paves way for peaceful coexistence.  It therefore concerns itself with the issue of dominant, majority culture versus minority culture; host cultures against alien cultures as a result of immigration or endogenous minorities becoming aware of their identity. The above is primarily done in the context of Habermas’ discourse on the challenges of multiculturalism, politics of inclusion.

See also  God creativity and process: a critical evaluation of the philosophy of whitehead

The significance of this research work is seen from the fact that it points out the weaknesses that are embedded in a theory—Discourse Ethics—that seems to be the most celebrated method of conflict resolution in terms of politics of inclusion in the contemporary world. The work is also of benefit to humanity from the point that it provides an insight into the much sought ideas on peaceful coexistence among different cultures of the world through the notion of communistic culture. It therefore has the capacity of inspiring peaceful cooperation among people with different cultural backgrounds but living in a particular society.


This research work engages the philosophical of method of dialogics. This is because this research work seeks to, in the framework of mutual understanding evolving from rational discourse, posit that differences in cultural values could be positively negotiated and harnessed for the well-being of all. This is in line with the import of dialogics as Ike Odimegwu explains that: “Dialogics derives from dialogue which is a conversation or discourse between two or more persons with the intention, desire and hope of ultimately arriving at a common position or mutual understanding.”13 Though similar to but different from dialectics as a method, dialectics advances by division, opposition, conflict and selection. But dialogics is a procedure of communing understanding, appropriating the positions of involvement and inter-inclusion. Dialectics appropriates the means of exclusive inclusion or inclusive exclusion but the ever growing means of dialogics is inclusive of every parts of the issue or discourse.14 As this research work seeks to proffer solution to the phenomenon of incomplete inclusion of the other or challenges of multiculturalism, the use of  dialogics as a method resonates again when one observes like Ike Odimegwu that dialogics, “refers to the dialogue of lived experience intended for the achievement of common position, mutual understanding and harmonious resolution of the contending aspects of human social existence.”15 The entailments of dialogics includes: Thesis, which means the normal traditional situation; Enthesis, which is birth of new events; Prothesis, (crisis of consciousness of Being) which means that the consciousness of being of a person or a society experiences crisis, that is, feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and instability; Synthesis, (Questions, Answers and Resolutions), here the answers to the questions posited go a measurable length in providing resolution to the crisis. In accordance with the entailments of dialogics, in this discourse, thesis will give a picturesque of normal, traditional situation of some countries prior to the advent of colonial masters (this is one of the origins of multiculturalism); Enthesis unearths the emergent issues in hitherto normal, traditional situation among countries cited as instance; Prothesis pin points the emergent issues how they have constituted major crises in the world, such as disregard, marginalization, etc., of the other; Synthesis aspires to provide resolution by proffering  a foundational basis that validates genuine framework that will ensure peaceful coexistence among multicultural societies. The essential conceptual difference between dialectics and dialogics is that the former has in itself the capacity to generate its own crisis and the presupposed solution which is the synthesis only succeeds in forming the thesis again; its disunity is within itself. But in dialogics, the crisis is from the outside, at the Enthesis stage where external factor constitutes a problem. In the context of this study, the crisis point is when one culture comes in contact with another culture, and as they try to interact, the struggles in this interactions leads to challenges. Therefore, the crisis factor in dialectics is endogenous whereas that of dialogics is exogenous. For instance, people with different cultural backgrounds in a particular society trying to live together will normally constitute a problem until a mutual understanding is reached. Also, dialogics is interrogative, conversational and aims at arriving at mutual understanding where every aspect of an issue is amicably resolved. This is why dialogics is apt for this research and it is used here to practically demonstrate the reconstructive import on Habermas’ discourse ethics in relation to the politics of inclusion.

This Dissertation breaks into six chapters. In line with the foregoing, Chapter One of this work outlines the general structure of this research, Chapter Two gives a literature review based on the thoughts of other philosophers with regard to Habermas’s idea on the subject matter of this research. The review will logically cover discourse ethics and politics of inclusion with their attendant integral themes. Chapter Three focuses on the exposition of discourse ethics which he employs to resolve the problem of incomplete inclusion of the other. Chapter Four focuses on Habermas’s idea of multiculturalism and the subthemes through which he explains the notion of multiculturalism. Chapter Five reconstructively looks at discourse ethics as the solution Habermas offers to the politics of inclusion. Chapter Six gives the evaluation and conclusion of the study.


Critical Social Theory: The problem and distinctive trademark of critical social theory is the interdisciplinary synthesis of social science and social philosophy. As a social science — critical theory is critical, carping of both the utopian idealism of social and political philosophy and the uncensorious realism of social and political science. Critical theory maintains that social and political theory should not be distanced from actual practice as to be devoid of usefulness. But at the same time not restricted to describing the normal patterns of living social practice to avoid being an uncritical means in the service of government officials and public–opinion manipulators prefigured in upholding already made situation. Critical theory somewhat combines social philosophy and social science, social idealism and social realism, theory and practice, yet not collapsing one to the other. As a social philosophy— critical theory is in the form of other patterns of social and political philosophy in that it ruminates on the basic meaning of social and political life so as to unravel yardsticks of evaluation. Its principal object subsists not in the uncovering statistical forms of conducing the prognostication and technical control of social and political unfoldings but the offering of censorious enlightenment in relation to the justness and goodness of social and political institutions. Critical theory also differentiates itself from social and political philosophy by virtue of its being mercilessly realistic and carping about its own philosophical assumptions.16 Historically, critical social theory is a neo-Marxist philosophy that belongs to the Frankfurt School. It evolved in Germany in the 1930s and tackled the works of intellectuals like Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. However, modern critical theory emerged from the anti-positivist sociology of Max Weber and Georg Simmel, the Marxist theories of Georgy Luckacs and of Antonio Gramsci. Modern critical theory moved beyond the theoretic foundations in German idealism and advanced   nearer to American pragmatism. Even though critical theorists are categorized as Marxist, they are inclined to negating Marxist concepts but to conflate Marxism analysis with other sociologic and philosophic bents. Among the vestiges of Marxist philosophic concepts found in contemporary critical theory is the concern for a social base and superstructure. Critical social theory, therefore, is a kind of self-reflective knowledge having both understanding and theoretical explication to minimize entanglement in systems of domination or dependence. It is inclined to obeying the emancipator interest in enlarging the range of autonomy and minimizing the range of domination. It is chiefly oriented toward criticizing and altering society as a whole as against traditional theory geared towards comprehension or explanation only.

See also  Environmental ethics and the African perspective

Institutional Translation Proviso:  means translating religious reasons in the public into secular language that is generally accessible to all. That is, a ‘political’ language. Political language is a common, ‘public’ language which every person can partake in despite being initiated or not into a particular religion or with the privilege of having religious truth revealed to them.17

Fundamentalism: system of insistence and superimposition of ethical world-views, for instance, religions, on other people by the means of the state and the law.18

Post-Secularism: means that religions ought to be dealt merely as ethical, particular conception of the good among other ethical, particular ideas of the good. It means that religious differences ought to be tolerated as religious or ethical differences within a common secular, or political, arrangement. That is, religion has come to stay but only within secular societies.19

Multiculturalism:  means the ideal of equal respect and recognition given to different cultures within any given society of differing ethnics or cultures, religions and languages.20

Common Political Culture: by this Habermas means “new” culture arrived at after citizens in a particular society must have resolved their differences through rational discourse leading to mutual understanding and agreement.21

Discourse: this is a technical concept employed by Habermas signifying uncontaminated communication devoid of pressures, restrictions, and inequalities in power and ability that usually follow communicative action.22

Ethics: The study of the concepts involved in practical reasoning: good, right, duty, obligation, virtue, freedom, rationality, choice.23

Discourse Ethics/ Ideal Speech Situation: this is Habermas’s expression signifying conditions of total freedom and equality which have to be secured so that participants in discourse will attain rational agreement, and as such, obtain a genuine-universally-binding-consensus.24

System: for Habermas, system is seen through modern societies as comprised of self-regulating economic and administrative institutions that respond to ensemble inputs of supply and demand – seen through media of money and power – in a manner that is most unplanned and unintended. Its operation can be functionally and causally explicated, that is, objectively.25

Lifeworld: this is somebody’s subjective, personal interpretation of life experiences from background store of knowledge. According to Habermas, it comprises those implicit cultural-linguistic assumption, expected behaviours, and habits which shape the common background of action and thought. 26 It complements system.

Reconstruction: Reconstruction means a critical process of editing or adjustment of a philosophical theory with a view to supplementing its explanatory potencies. This acknowledges the presence of explanatory value of the theory but still recognizes the need for auxiliary insights to minimize the inherent theoretical deficiency and augment its semantic value. The choice of this task in this research work is inspired by the aspiration to take apart Habermas’s construal of common political culture (the end product of his discourse ethics) and bring them together again in an improved form in the sense of adding what is perceived to be a fundamental lack

A Reconstruction Of Habermas’ Discourse Ethics Vis-A-Vis Politics Of Inclusion


To purchase complete Project Material, Pay the sum of N3, 000 to our bank accounts below:



ACCOUNT NUMBER: 3108050531




ACCOUNT NUMBER: 1475680026

After paying the sum of N3, 000 into any of our bank accounts, send the below details to our Phone: 08064502337

  1. Your Depositors Name
  2. Teller Number
  3. Amount Paid
  4. Project Topic
  5. Your Email Address

Send the above details to: 08064502337 on/before 24hours of payment. We will send your complete project materials to your email 30 Mins after payment. will only provide papers as a reference for your research. The papers ordered and produced should be used as a guide or framework for your own paper. It is the aim of to only provide guidance by which the paper should be pursued. We are neither encouraging any form of plagiarism nor are we advocating the use of the papers produced herein for cheating.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *