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Motives for Consensus: Habermas and Kitcher on Ethical Deliberation

In this paper I first offer a critical analysis of Habermas’s system of moral justification. Even though I consider Habermas’s proposal valuable in that it puts forward a procedure of justification that is compatible with the principles of pluralism, I regard it as problematic in that it places consensus at the center of moral justification, when consensus is not as easily attainable as Habermas seems to presuppose. Additionally, I call into question the efficacy of consensus to guarantee, on its own, the validity of normative claims. As a solution to these problems, I turn to Kitcher’s pragmatic naturalism, in which the principle of altruism plays a fundamental role. On the one hand, I ponder the benefits that the promotion of altruism has for individuals and, on the other, I propose to consider the potential of a normative claim to promote altruistic responses as a mark of validity.

Belen Pueyo-Ibanez
Emory University
United States

 

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