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« A Vist, Some Talks, and a Bet | Main | Don Lavoie's Lectures on Comparative Economic Systems (GMU, 1985) »


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Thanks a lot for the downloadable copy! I was trying to get that paper of Dr Storr's website just a few days ago and couldn't.

Which works of Habermas would you recommend reading?

It's hard for me now to recommend that any economists (if you are one) spend time trying to make sense out of Habermas. Like I said, the costs are high, at least for me. At any rate, his Between Facts and Norms is his most important book. To make sense of that, one should read Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action. To make sense of that, one should read.... and on and on it goes.

You've already annoyed Stephan Kinsella

It's amazing how fast this sort of thing happens on the internet.

That's nothing compared to annoying my wife.

Last I heard, Hoppe is in Las Vegas. But, since he retired, who knows? Maybe he is gambling on some other location.

I didn't say I was annoyed. I was just filling in a missing webnote. In fact I look forward to reading the whole thing in more depth--pity it's not available online. I would think authors want their ideas out there, not trapped behind walls or in musty print.

Hoppe doesn't gamble, according to him it's the first stop on a horrible road to taking LSD and writing about hermeneutics.

Dr Prychitko, thanks for the recommendation (or lack thereof, as it were). My post actually meant to read "What works, in any..."

Mr. Prychitko, since you are putting online your stuff, where can I find a paper that resumes your position on marxism and self management? Thanks!

The paper you and Dr. Storr did on Habermas was excellent. I refer to it while trying to make sense of Between Facts and Norms.

That said, I agree with you that Communicative Action may not be the best theoretical lens for any working social scientist interested in INVESTIGATING how communication coordinates human action. Though I am no doubt deeply convinced that it does.

I don't know from Habermas, but John Schiemann says you can't separate strategic from communicative action:

Schiemann, John. 2000. “Meeting Halfway between Rochester and Frankfurt: Generative Salience, Focal Points, and Strategic Interaction,” American Journal of Political Science, 44(1): 1-16

Thanks Roger, I wasn't aware of the Schiemann piece. Habermas separates the two (actually, the three) forms of action by definition.

Instrumental: end is given, apply means to attain end. Done so in a non-social setting. I.e., Crusoe.

Strategic: same as instrumental except that it is done in a social setting and involves coordinating actions among people.

Communicative: totally different definition here: Ends aren't given. Communicative action entails the attempt among people to determine what the ends should be.

He uses his communicative concept to call for a radically democratic process within the state so that people can determine what the ends of the polity ought to be (social justice, etc). Once the ends are determined through a justified procedurally-rational process, then people follow strategic action -- selecting means to strive for the now-given social ends.


If I were to suggest one book that is "readable" as a first intro to at least his early thought, it would be Legitimation Crisis. The problem is, once each book had appeared, he then "moved beyond" that one to the next (like Keynes's move from the Treatise to the GT). I now wonder (but won't worry about) if he has moved beyond his magnum opus -- Between Facts and Norms -- to some new project. I won't worry about that, though. I've spent more than enough time on Habermas.

Dave and I spent more than enough hours studying Habermas in the 1980s. In the late 1980s I was asked to review Habermas's methodology book for the Southern Economic Journal. I was thrilled to finally see this paper come out in the Cambridge Journal. Buchanan and Vanberg also had a paper discussing Habermas's ideas in the late 1980s-early 1990s.

I don't think Habermas's reputation is as high today as it was 15 or 20 years ago.

As a history of thought issue, when Dave and I first met Hans Hoppe in the mid-1980s (at the IHS Harper Library at GMU) he was presenting the argumentation ethics idea. We tried to talk to him about (a) Don Lavoie and hermeneutics, and (b) Habermas, Apel, and Offe. We were 2nd or 3rd year PhD students and he was just coming to the US after spending time at the Johns Hopkins Center in Italy. The conversation did not go far beyond 1 or 2 word dismissive answers. It was not a "heated" moment, but it was not "productive" either (at least that is my flawed recollection). And I think it is accurate to say that Hoppe did not address explicitly the work of Habermas or Apel or Offe in his work during this period study of these guys works --- say, 1985-1995.

Hoppe is indeed in a unique position to comment on these authors given his educational background studying with Habermas. Is there a detailed analysis in Hoppe's writings of Habermas and Apel? I don't mean a biographical note, I mean an analysis in a philosphy, poliical science, or history of ideas journals? It would be interesting to compare Prychitko and Storr's, Buchanan and Vanberg's, and Hoppe's analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of Habermas's contributions.


Schiemann points out that you can't purge instrumental logic and action from the communicative setting. Maybe I'm just too much under John's influence, but he seems clearly correct and the puzzle is how Habermas or any of his readers could ever have thought the contrary.

I agree with that even without seeing the details. Recall Habermas's earlier notion of "the ideal speech situation." In many ways his communicative action is a foil to judge real-existing political dialogue. Problem is, he believes that the political structure can be transformed into a procedure that is something closer to his ideal.

I think his notion of deciding upon political ends has something to it, but I would disentangle that from legislative ends and instead focus on constitutional rules (Hayek and Buchanan) that serve the emergence and preservation of a free society. Once the rules are established (in the Hayekian minimal state sense, for me) then the ends, from the perspective of the system, can be taken as given. Samuels is decidely against that approach, as evidenced by his exchange with Buchanan, which, in my opinion, is one of the best discussions among two "opposing" economists of the latter half of the last century.

Dr Prychitko,

Thanks for the further advice, I might look into Legitimation Crisis soon but given what you've been saying in this post it's not really worth it. Much less when I have Blanchard and Varian to work through.

This piece is downloadable for subscribers only, or am I missing something?

Too bad...

The question that has to be asked about Habermas, as about anyone who has a large output and a high profile, is something like: what is new, true (or robust) and helpful? In the case of Habermas, the answer is very little.

What can you say about a person who recycled Thatcher's "no such thing as society" as a criticism, and also thought that Popper was a positivist? Sure, you can treat the corpus of works like a big inkblot and selectively extract all kinds of good things but how helpful is that?

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