Reason and Democracy

How does reason justify itself? ……If we believe in the importance of the universal human impulse to communicate, we have to believe in reason.

Habermas presupposes reason, although it is merely the product of imperfect human Auseinandersetzung, critical and discussion debate, and believes that reasoned communication can weaken prejudices, increase the scope and power of the public sphere and strengthen democracy.

Central in Habermas’ thinking is the notion that the quality of society depends on our capacity to communicate, to debate and discuss: Reason is crucial to communication, sich auseinandersetzen.

Habermas believes we can reason out solutions to our problems, that just institutions can lead to a fairer society based on cooperation rather than competition. At stake is a crucial intellectual issue: Are there certain basic standards underlying our behaviours, standards like reason and justice? Or is the world a swampy, relativistic place, where we play our games or seek some power in the muck?