In the wealth of his publications Habermas has made many important contributions to a fundamental renewal of the conceptual architecture and the set of basic concepts guiding social scientific research (Van Doorne 1982). My focus will be on this fundamental infrastructure only, that is, on a part of Habermas’s work. However, I consider it to be of crucial importance for his researchprogram as a whole, although this might get lost of sight due to the fact that Habermas since a good number of years has moved into the direction of rather ‘applied’ research with regard to law, democracy and discourse ethics within the contemporary tension-laden setting of state and society.
His conception concerning the selected topic has undergone a number of changes over the years. In my presentation I will forego these changes. Therefore I articulate Habermas’s position in these matters as it stands since the mid-seventies, unchanged, in my opinion, as to its basic characteristics. I am in substantial agreement with Habermas’s project concerning the foundations of a theory of society. Nevertheless, it is my critical reception and reconstruction of Habermas’s project, and I hope that they may prove to be a fruitful extension of his project as well.
In the first section I will introduce sketchily the major aspects of Habermas’s view concerning the conceptual architecture of social scientific research, because it is otherwise impossible to determine the level of analysis on which the articulation of the set of basic concepts is situated . Then I will present in a provisional way the set of basic concepts which, according to Habermas, are required to ensure the plausibility and the relevance of social scientific research. (In chapter I-7 I will go into a close examination of this set of concepts scrutinizing the relevant writings of Habermas.) In the following, short section , I will in general terms indicate how the means of a specific mathematical model of interaction offer the possibility to define the basic concepts of Habermas’s theory of society in an unambiguous manner and how their structural coherence can be articulated. (It is chapter I-8 in which this work effectively will be done.) And in the last section , I will present a couple of reasons indicating that Habermas’s conceptual architecture and the set of basic concepts he proposes, can be made relevant for problems today’s economic science is facing. It is hoped that a modeled version of Habermas’s architectural and categorical framework will foster communication and argumentation concerning the basic concepts of today’s economic science.
- Conceptual architecture and basic concepts
The conceptual architecture of Habermas’ theory of society
In Habermas’s view, scientific work always has to fulfill a double function: first, to generate testable and relevant empirical knowledge for the approach of problems that arise in our coping with the complex reality of everyday life and that cannot be handled within the limits of everyday practice. And, second, to theoretically justify the plausibility and explanatory power of the presuppositions and assumptions that determine the process of scientific knowledge acquisition (see Van Doorne (1982: 82-96) and Van Doorne, Vromen (1989: 98-102). It is necessary to distinguish carefully between these two functions of social scientific research. Each requires its own kind of discourse with the application of specific rules and criteria for the validity of arguments brought forward. For example, in economics with regard to the sector of business activities, an investigation of transaction costs in a specific case, requires different concepts and assumptions then game-theoretic modeling and analysis of its implications and results. nd theory-formation, I will call the first kind of discourse the empirical-scientific form of concept- and the second the reconstructive-scientific form . According to Habermas, the two forms of concept- and theory-formation are not self-contained, they have to be considered as mutually dependent approaches, stylized into different directions given predominant preoccupations and they are of equal importance for a scientific discipline that claims to be a social science.
Closely related with this issue of the double-sidedness of scientific work is the question: how to conceptualize the relationship between these two main forms of theoretically steered activities. And the further unavoidable question: how to conceptualize the relationship of each of these two scientific approaches with the everyday social reality we are living in. It is this reality that itself is characterized by complex features selectively put into focus by each of the two scientific approaches. There is nothing wrong with being selectively focusing as long as there can be given good reasons to do so. These questions are matters of architecture, and with Habermas I consider their articulation and the development of an adapted conceptual framework as part of a (general) theory of society.
The main subject of Habermas’s theory of society is communication, that is in my understanding, specifically human social interaction, first of all, interactions between persons. But, as we will see in chapter I-7, the concept social interaction comprises as well interactions between action-domains, pertaining to a particular society or to society at large. Against this background scientific work is seen as a specialized form of social interaction within the specific societal domain of science. In the three chapters I-6, I-7, and I-8 published here, I limit myself to a reconstruction of the conceptual framework of Habermas’s general theory of society with regard to the social sciences and their relation with society at large .
Habermas defends the view that defining empirical research-objects in the social sciences presupposes practical common knowledge (a ‘know-how’) about the characteristic structure of social interactions in everyday situations. The object-definition guiding the selective approach 0f research transforms an everyday social problem into a scientific problem. The transformation has two sides: it is an abstracting move with regard to a host of particularities relevant in everyday practices, as well as a selective, discipline-specific approach, commanded (however implicitly) by general assumptions about what is constitutive for social interactions and about what makes them work. In Habermas’s view these assumptions themselves have to be justified. This can only be done through a theoretical reconstruction of the ‘know how’ about what constitutes social interaction and about how it works, always implied in every non-arbitrary definition of a scientific object. Of course, a theoretical reconstruction of this kind has to apply as well to the interactions involved in the empirical-scientific transformation of societal problems and to the interactions involved in theoretical reconstruction itself. Thus, the two main forms of scientific interactions within the domain of science, the empirical and the reconstuctive, have to be measured against the (reconstructed) structural features of that presupposed practical common knowledge or know-how (‘Vorverständnis’ in German).
According to Habermas, it is a fundamental precondition for social relevance to safeguard the interconnection of the two forms of theory formation with everyday social interactions and with each other. As will be shown in chapter I-8 , it is possible to fulfill this requirement in terms of conformity of the conceptual structure of the three to be differentiated contexts of social interaction, each of which, as we will see in chapter I-7, requires its own language. My interpretation and elaboration of Habermas’s concept leads to the following schema (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Interdependent contexts of social interaction
Figure 1 offers an overview of three contexts of social interaction relevant for the domain of social science. They result from the distinction of scientific interaction from and against everyday interaction in the first place, and from the further distinction, with regard to the scientific interaction-domain itself, of the two existing main contexts of scientific research: empirical research and reconstructive research. I share Habermas’s conviction that differentiation in theory-formation goes astray without complementary efforts at integration. In the scheme this conviction is expressed by the introduction of two perspectives of analysis, not only a differentiating perspective, but an integrative perspective as well, regarding respectively each of the two main contexts of scientific interaction. These short notes about the conceptual architecture of Habermas’s approach allow to indicate that the conceptual framework for a general theory of society he has developed, is a form of reconstructive-scientific theorizing and modeling. It is developed from the integration perspective on the highest level of abstraction.
As we will see, the distinctions introduced in the scheme are a matter of primordial importance for the social science of economics. The major setbacks in today’s economic theory-formation and modeling seem to be caused by the muddling of the two forms of scientific interaction at the one hand, and their splitting up at the other. E.g., empirical economics aiming at social relevance and mathematical economics aiming at theoretical rigor and proof are neglecting each other instead of complementing and sustaining each other.
The basic categorical framework of a theory of society
Not only the architecture of Habermas researchprogram has undergone significant changes. This is also the case with the categorical framework. Habermas has been developing for the purpose of his theory of society. What I am after is the reconstruction of what Habermas in his theory of society considers to be the set of basic concepts and their interdependent framework that is necessary and sufficient to understand and explain the constitutive features of a social interaction situation and the performance of social interactions. Habermas is in search of an explanatory model for the social sciences. It should be emphasized in advance that such a model can not refer directly to concrete phenomena of social interaction. It is a reconstruction of the general structural conditions which have to be fulfilled if we want to speak of social interaction. The analyses of these general structural conditions and their modeling in terms of a conceptual framework take place, as already noted, within the context of reconstructive-theoretical research. In several publications Habermas has been working on it. In chapter I-7 I will follow closely the representative parts of Habermas’s early writings on this topic. For now I just mention the set of basic concepts that Habermas has proposed in his first attempts to develop ‘a formal pragmatics’ (1975-a, pp.13 and following; 1975-b, p. 332 and in particular pp.337-3
Figure 2: the general action system
With regard to the structure of the interaction-field of man, Habermas distinguishes four action sectors: (1a) external nature, (2a) internal human nature, (3a) society and (4a) the sector of language. With respect to the action competences in tune with these four action sectors he states that an actor should be able to (1b) act goaldirected, to (2b) self-expression, to (3b) communicative action and to (4b) language use. Concerning the reality relations which interconnect the different action sectors and the different action competences Habermas distinguishes (1c) the relation of objectivity, (2c) the relation of subjectivity, (3c) the relation of normativity and (4c) the relation of intersubjectivity. Finally, taking into account the implicit validity claims that actors mutually bring forward, Habermas distinguishes four claims: (1d) a claim to truth, (2d) a claim to veracity, (3d) a claim to rightness and (4d) a claim to comprehensibility. These intuitively made distinctions are not proposed in terms of acquired insight, but as basic presuppositions which we need, according to Habermas, in order to be able to account for our thinking, acting and speaking. The meaning-, action- and reality-values of those distinctions still have to be made plausible in an empirically controled manner.
- On the need for modelling the structural categories
I have assumed in my dissertation (Van Doorne (1982)) that the set of categories presented in Figure 2 is adequate for the definition of the structural features of social interaction as such. I will argue in favor of this assumption , and I will do so by making use of mathematical means. Given the complexity of Habermas’s concept, it is difficult to get a clear picture of the structural coherence ( if there is one) of the in figure 2 enumerated basic categories. Almost twenty years ago I came across a model used by the mathematical economist Ruys in his inaugural lecture on rational behavior. In discussing it with him I surmised that the characteristic features of the model were interpretable in terms of the coherence of the reality relations at the center of Habermas’s concept. Ever since I have been working together with Ruys to really find out whether the axioms defining the formal interaction model could be interpreted such, that we could match his (tripolar) mathematical model of interaction structures with the conceptual structures of Habermas’s theory of social interaction. With the help of the mathematical tools offered by the model I have been able to identify and to reconstruct, by modeling them, the set of reality relations (objectivity, normativity, subjectivity and intersubjectivity ) as the conceptual core of Habermas’s theory of society. And only by doing so, I could make a reconstruction of the implicit rules according to which Habermas has been defining all the structural components put together in the schema of Figure 2. And I could specify in what way and in what sense (according to his concept) they are contributing to the construction of social reality. In this respect, and in this sense only, my interpretation and reconstruction of Habermas’s theory of society is ‘preconditioned’ by the mathematical model used. I leave the discussion of my reconstruction to chapter I-8.
- Relevance of Habermas’s conceptual framework for economics
In the search of my colleages and myself to make Habermas’s theory of society fruitful for economic science we have become aware of the fact, that indeed there is a strong convergence of our concerns with overall concerns of Habermas’s theory of society. To mention just a few: to get rid of the dilemma of the individualistic versus collectivistic preeminence in social theorizing (including economics); to go beyond the modern subject-centered philosophy with its concept of autonomous man, underlying much of contemporary social science and promoted strongly by the concepts of ‘social choice’ and ‘game theory’; to find new ways of interrelating conceptually the ever more drifting apart domains of social science; the search for post-metaphysical concept-formation, that is, of defining concepts not in terms of reference to preexisting ontological entities, but in terms of their mutually defining, linguistically articulated, interrelations and the pragmatic role they play, laying emphasis upon intersubjective interaction as source of worldmaking.
Against this background, I will give in this last section a couple of reasons for adapting the view that research designs in line with Habermas’s design of the conceptual architecture of social scientific research, can help to overcome problems endemic in economics . And how the use of his conceptual framework may help to broaden the range of basic concepts economists are using .
Conceptual architecture in economics is deficient
There are problems regarding the scientific status and texture of economic science which, at least partly, are due to a lack of a clear articulation of the architecture of economic science. In argumentative exchanges among economists concerning the object, goal and function of economic science either conflation occurs of the two contexts of scientific interaction, or a splitting up in two not any more related theoretical approaches. In many cases it is not at all clear whether the basic concepts of economic science are empirically or analytically styled concepts. As will be argued, the relationship between theoretical concepts of the two kinds and of each of those kinds with concepts operative in everyday interactions, is at the heart of disagreements.
Interviews with business economists (see Van Doorne and Vromen 1989) make visible a highly ambivalent picture of business economics as a scientific (sub)discipline. At the one hand, in the different subdisciplines of business economics there appears to be little or no room for the practical experiences and interactions of everyday life, given the fact that they do appear in the economic discourse from its start only in as far as they already have been theoretically transformed into ‘empirical data’, fitting the ordering schemata of the conceptual framework of (mainly neoclassical) economics. At the other hand, when asked explicitly about the scientific status and texture of what they are doing, a good number among the scholars interviewed distinguish between the object of their (sub)discipline as experienced and observed in everyday life (the experiential and the observational), and the theoretical object of it. Although they have learned to make this distinction, it certainly is not common practice to work with it. Roughly speaking, one can say that the scholars (practitioners in the different subdiciplines of business economics) fall into two groups: those who opt for safeguarding the social relevance of the scientific work they are involved in, and those who are almost exclusively concerned with maintaining high standards for the justification of scientific constructions with supposedly explanatory power.
The first group wants to prevent the experiential object as it is known to us through everyday practices, from disappearing out of view in the scientific approach and object definition. From this perspective, it is unacceptable that the price one has to pay for scientific theory formation should be the loss of the social recognizability of the problem definition. The question is whether this group is succeeding in making it plausible to colleagues with the other preference, that the preeminence given to the relevance issue does not, or at least not necessarily, operate at the expense of the other side of the scientific task: the theoretical justification of the approach chosen.
The second group attaches great importance to the correctness, rigor, and consistency of scientific explanatory strategies. This group is quite sensitive to the prestige that a scholar may gain within today’s ‘mainstream’ economics by building, on a high level of abstraction, explanatory constructions. They seem prepared to pay the price that the theoretical constructions developed do not relate in any systematic way to the relevant problems encountered in business practices.
In terms of a theory of science the viewpoint of the first group can be articulated by conceptually distinguishing and relating the experiential/observational object and the empirical-scientific object respectively. However, the empirical-scientific concepts are not appropriate for the understanding and articulation of the viewpoint taken by the second group. For the theoretical justification of (partial) theories in business economics, theory formation that only goes back and forth between the experiential and empirical object falls short. The empirical-scientific object definition, being tied up to the experiences and observations of concrete business practices, is not suited for the kind of general and formal propositions which have to be made in the framework of theoretical explanation.
The concepts the second group uses are best called analytical. This is precisely why the first group is reluctant to accept the kind of theory formation proposed by the second group. The analytical concepts developed by this group are considered to be inadequate for the theoretical articulation of what really is at stake in economic interaction. According to the partisans of the first view, these concepts do not do justice to the material definition of the empirical object of economics.
In terms of the existing architectural ideas in economic science there seems to be a deadlock. A conception allowing to interconnect systematically the two kinds of theoretical registers and the two different concerns of relevance and theoretical strength, is not available. It is in view of this ambivalent and embarrassing situation that I am pleading for a new look at the architectural problems of economic science. What can be in this respect the contribution of Habermas’s conception ?
Economics as a science of society ?
Muysken (1985) has characterized this unresolved dilemma (business) economists are facing, as the aftermath of a clash between what he calls a Marshallian and a Hicksian paradigm of science (see note 10). According to Muysken, what is at issue here is the nature of the relationship of axiomatically generated presuppositions with everyday experiential and observational reality. In the Hicksian view, it does not matter whether the theoretical presuppositions relate in any recognizable way to the experiential and observational characteristics of day to day practices. In the Marshallian paradigm, on the contrary, it is a prerequisite for scientific acceptability.
As to this specific question there is a noteworthy address by March (1978) to the general assembly of the American Economic Association, that is certainly not outdated. In his overview of the developments in choice and decision theory in the sixties and seventies, he makes an inventory of the problems that, in his opinion, require an expansion of the narrow dominant concept of rationality. Further on I will come back to that. His main argument is based upon the presence in everyday choice behavior of aspects of intelligence for which there is no place in the context of scientific theory-formation. He believes that a scientific theory that does not allow serious consideration of such aspects should be challenged. The presence of intelligence in the everyday behavior of people has to be accepted as a constraint on the constructive freedom of scientific investigators.
It is not immediately clear though, that, in his view, this should have consequences for the conceptual architecture of economic science, in the sense for example, of the here proposed differentiation of three different contexts of interaction. However, looking closer at his critique, this is what is needed. Let me explain why.
We are back again at the issue of the ‘nature’ of the relationship between axiomatically generated presuppositions and the experiential/observational reality of everyday life. And we are back also at the opposition of a Marshallian and a Hicksian approach. Both approaches suffer from the lack of conceptual means for an elaboration of the two kinds of scientific activity such that their difference as well as their interdependence, in relation with the reality of everyday life, are maintained and supported with arguments.
I claim that with the help of Habermas’s conceptual framework a solution can be found for this task in the following manner. In order to achieve along theoretically sound lines the articulation of the formal object of economics as a science of society, it is necessary to assume that there is a non-arbitrary relation between the formal object to be designed and the empirical object at the one hand, and between the empirical object and the experiential/observational object of everyday economic interactions at the other. In support of this view, I take into account the previously mentioned limits upon the freedom of construction of economists which, according to March, are set by the presence of intelligent everyday choice behavior. March does not make use of the distinction I make between the empirical-scientific and the reconstructive-scientific determination of the object. He just contends that the articulation of the formal object of economics should reckon with the material characteristics of the object in everyday social interactions. But March’s address of 1978 has nothing to offer in terms of new conceptual means for assuring the link and for broadening the rationality concept. How can it be done ?
Translated into the Habermasian architecture of social research design, March’s contention can be understood as meaning the following. A direct non-arbitrary relation has to be secured between the experiential/observational object of economics and the empirical-scientific object of this discipline, as well as a direct non-arbitrary relation between the empirical-scientific and the formal (that is, the reconstructive-scientific) object. This does not say, however, that the relation between the formal object of economic science and the experiential object is itself a direct one. I have argued elsewhere that this can be only an indirect relation.
How can this phasing of objects (as I like to call it) be realised ? My (Habermasian) point of departure is, that the three objects of economic science, each of which is tied to one of the three main interaction contexts distinguished in the beginning of this chapter , are irreducible, and, at the same time, interdependent. And, as I will argue in chapter I-8, a non-arbitrary interdependence can only be guaranteed by ensuring the structural conformity of the three different objects and their linguistic, context-sensitive embeddedments . And this structural conformity of the three objects of economic science can only be reached through assigning to reconstructive-scientific theory formation and the formal object definition as its product, a mediating function with regard to the relation of the other two interaction contexts and of their objects. The formal object of economic science is, in this view, a hypothetical non-essentialist re-construction of the structural features of economic interactions in real life situations. It means claiming, that indeed economic interactions of everyday life can be understood and explained with the help of the conceptual framework designed and modeled for that purpose. This is one side of its meaning and function. But there is another side to it. It is also claiming, that the same conceptual framework conditions the relevance of empirical-scientific research in economics ( be it heuristic, hermeneutical or experimental) through serving as its starting point, its integrative perspective and its conceptual resource.
Within a Habermasian perspective things are even more complex. When it is assumed that economics is a social science, that is, a science about social-economic interactions in today’s societal setting, then the basic concepts of economic science should , in the reconstructive-scientific context, be tied to , and in concordance with, the basic categories of a theory of society.
The categorical framework of economics is then considered as an empirically informed specification of the general categorical framework of the theory of society. And, thus, the categorical framework of economics can be articulated in terms of a discipline-specific conceptual model (see Figure 1: the two levels within the reconstructive-scientific context). In as far as economic, that is, domain-specific interactions are concerned, this discipline-specific conceptual framework is laden with the claim to offer a theoretical reconstruction of the structural features that, according to the intuitions of competent economic actors, determine the materiality of economic interactions in real life situations. Their competence expresses itself by distinguishing the domain-specific interactions of economics from other kinds of social interactions and their respective domains. It is the task of empirical-scientific research to probe the plausibility of these claims.
All this may not make forget that, in the reconstructive-scientific context, all the operative concepts of social interaction, the general as well as the discipline-specific, are analytical, but now in a somewhat different sense then before. By no means they represent ascertained insight. In effect, they are concepts void of any particular reference to concrete actual interaction situations. However, the analytical concepts are not purely analytical, that is, formal only, because their design and their coherence are the expression of the claim that those concepts theoretically reconstruct structural features that, according to the intuitions of competent actors, determine the specific materiality of (different kinds of) social interactions. And it is only in permanent interaction with a broad spectrum of empirical-research projects and learning from what happens in real life situations, that this conception may gain plausibility.
Broadening the range of concepts used
There is an apparent need of, and a continuous demand for, new categories in order to complement the set of basic categories underlying today’s mainstream economics (see -to name a few-Blaug (1997), Etzioni (1988), Hargreaves Heap (1989 and 1998), Kapp (1961), Lekachman (1976), March (1978), Noorderhaven (1997).
In the Habermasian conception of social scientific research as sketched above, it is assumed that the structuring features of social interaction are the same for every social interaction in whatever societal context. And therefor, are relevant for the constructive activities of concept-formation and theory-design in the field of social theories. As indicated before, arguments have to be developed which can make this assumption plausible on the conceptual, methodological and empirical level of argumentation.
One can interpret parts of Habermas’s writings on universal pragmatics as the beginnings of an operationalization of the outlined formal framework. In particular his theses about rationality and about processes of rationalization are of this kind. Linked up with them is his concept of rationality claims (see the schema in Figure 3).
Figure 3: rationality claims
In this schema Habermas presents, from the perspective of interacting actors, the different aspects according to which actors can claim to be rational. What does this mean for the interpretation of the rationality aspects economists usually take into consideration? On the premises of Habermas’ theory one can argue that in current economic theory only rationality aspect 2 (actors claim to have de facto maximized the efficiency of means used for a given end) comes into the picture, and that the other five aspects are left out. And even with this interpretation one may easily disagree, because in today’s economic theory the terminology used suggests to a naive audience an action-theoretical approach, and the words used seem at first sight to refer to everyday experiences and notions of economic behaviour. However, on reflection it becomes evident that the meaning of the economist’s concepts is theory-immanent and refers to the constructions the economic theorist makes from a non-interactive, outsider‑perspective of observable events that do not have any longer specifically social characteristics. The interconnectedness of reasonability and rationality is completely lost out of sight within standard economic theory.
In their (1983) Van Doorne and Vromen have analyzed the rationality concept of the traditional theory of consumer behavior and the rationality concept of the (older) choice- and decision-theory. Both concepts of rationality are resembling each other in that they ascribe rationality to behaviour without taking into account the action perspective and reasons of the actors concerned. It is March’s presidential adress (1978) in which he makes an assesment of the field of choice- and decision theory, that serves them as point of reference. On empirical and theoretical grounds March criticises the basic assumptions of this tradition, and the main thrust of his critic is directed to the missing link between the rationality concept and the concept of reasonableness ( March speaks of intelligence) as it functions in daily life, and to the onesidedness and reductive character of the former concept as it is used in economic science. With regard to this topic, I like to conclude this section with a reference to the very inspiring book of Hargreaves Heap. His ‘Rationality in Economics’ (1989) takes up the challenge to broaden the conceptual framework of standard economics. And an influential source for his work appears to be Habermas’s ‘Theory of Communicative Action’. In a recapitulation Hargreaves Heap formulates the two objectives of his book as follows: ‘One is to reveal the centrality of rationality assumptions to economic analysis: to bring out how they generate different types of explanations and prescriptions in economics. The other is to advance the claim of the often neglected procedural and expressive rationality assumptions: they need to be taken more seriously than is presently the case’. A comparison of the new concepts he is proposing with the conceptual differentiation of rationality claims by Habermas (compare the scheme in Figure 3) shows striking similarities between Hargreaves Heap’s procedural and expressive rationality and Habermas’s rationality aspects of rightness and veracity. Hargreaves Heap continues and states: ‘Procedural and expressive rationality are a testament to our social and historical location, and our self-conscious reflective capacities. They are, quite simply, an indispensable source for the project of explanation and prescription in economics.’
- Given its connotation of structuring activity, I use the term‘architecture’for Habermas’s design of social science as a complex whole of forms and levels of argumentation. Habermas himself is using this term in the same sense, for example (Habermas (1986, p.49 and 200; 1990,p.139 and 145). In his (1997) and (1999) he makes ample use of this term. And I will use the term ‘framework’ for the set of basic concepts.
- From a different angle James Johnson (1993) has tried to stimulate productive interaction between game theorists and the research tradition of ‘critical theory’ , exemplified for him by Habermas’s theory of communicative interaction.
- In the case of Habermas’s researchprogram it is appropriate to use the term ‘theory of society’ instead of ‘social theory’ for two reasons. First, Habermas is aiming at the reconstruction of basic concepts of which he claims that they are underlying all specific social theories and anyone of them. This means that his analysis moves on a higher level of abstraction. And second, he claims that the general concepts which are part of his reconstruction, are not only constitutive for the twotheoreticalapproaches he distinguishes, but for all kinds of social interaction and for all societal domains.
- In society the expectation is living that scientific research is able to fulfill this function. In particular, hopes are invested in interdisciplinary cooperation (see Van Doorne and Ruys (1988),p.1-14).
- In this respect, the Habermas of the seventies distances himself from the approach exemplified by his ‘Knowledge and Human Interests’ (Habermas (1971), in German (1969)). He makes convincingly clear, that trying to fulfill this double function in just one and the same context of argumentation leads to vicious circularity ( as was the case in his 1969 book and in his ‘On the Logic of the Social Sciences’ (Habermas (1990), in German (1967)).
- By using the terms empirical-scientific and reconstructive-scientific, I transfer and adapt freely the terminology that Habermas makes use of for distinguishing within the field of philosophy ‘(self)reflection’from ‘(rational) reconstruction’, to all disciplines in the field of social research. Concerning this for Habermas’ work important distinction see Van Doorne (1978 a and 1978 b). As to philosophy I consider, for example, business ethics as a branch of practical, self-reflective philosophy directly aiming at social enlightment and orientation. It is also within the empirical-scientific context, that the competition between ‘streams’ of social theories has to be situated. Among others: the rivalry between ‘critical rationalists’ of Popperian signature and ‘critical theorists’ of ‘Frankfurt-school’ lineage. This context has to be distinguished from the context of the formal reconstructive branches of philosophy. In my understanding of it, Habermas’ formal pragmatics does belong here. Its aim is reconstruction and justification of the basic categories structuring everyday and empirical-scientific interaction-situations alike.
- Stylized, I say, to make clear that the grouping of scientific interactions into two differentiated forms is not an absolute one. It is rather drawing a line on a continuum of scientific approaches. All are compounds in which general/generalizable framing aspects and particular, empirically specified/specifiable aspects come together. The distinction of two main groups follows the emphasis laid upon the first or the second group of aspects, which is taken to be indicative for the priority given to one of the two functions of scientific interaction. Where to draw the line between the two main groups is a context-sensitive matter, dependent, among other things, on institutional and socio-psychological indicators.
- See on this website (Kritische notities en voorstellen bij Habermas’grondslagenonderzoek. De dubbelzinnigheid van het begrip ‘communicatief handelen’ ) with the added introductory note, in which I give arguments for my understanding of the for Habermas’theory of society crucial concept ‘communication’.
- Compare for a good understanding of the German concept ‘Vorverständnis’ my II-7 on this website:Begrippelijk kader voor een analyse van de relatie van economie en recht.
- It is why Habermas calls theorizing and model-design in the context of formal-pragmatic analysisre–construction. This point of view will extensively be documented in chapters I-7 and I-8. Here lies precisely the point where, according to Muysken (1985), the ‘Marshallian’ paradigm of economic science clashes with the ‘Hicksian’ paradigm. I will come back to that in the last section of this chapter.
- Quite often Habermas uses instead of ‘reconstructive’ as equivalent terms ‘universal-pragmatic’ and ‘formal-pragmatic’. As far as philosophy is concerned I have to add, that in Figure 1 only its formal-pragmatic part, aiming at scientific justification, is mentioned. The practical-theoretic part aiming at social relevance (e.g. business ethics) is left out. In my view it is a form of empirical-scientific interaction. In the very interesting introduction of his (1999) Habermas embraces the term ‘reconstructive’ wholeheartedly as fitting quite well the pragmatic and evolutionary perspectives of his work of the foregoing decades.
- See (Blaug (1997)), and the many references given there.
- My presentation here of Habermas’s conceptual framework is only a concise summary of what I have elaborated at some length in my dissertation (Van Doorne (1982) and in a couple of papers (van Doorne (1984, 1986). I have given there my personal account of these categories, that is, I follow Habermas’ presentation of his concept as close as possible, but where I could not agree I have argued there (and elsewhere) against some decisions Habermas makes concerning the categorical framework. There are ambiguities in his writings on the categorical framework due to the fact, that Habermas himself sometimes ‘conflates’ (as Alexander has called it (1984) the two main contexts of theoretical analysis. I have argued elsewhere (see Van Doorne (1986)) that this is even the case with the for his researchprogram central concept of ‘communication’, respectively ‘communicative’. The meaning of this concept differs dependent upon the context of its use: within the context of formal-pragmatic theorizing about social interaction its meaning is, so I have argued, equivalent with ‘coordinated action’, whereas in the context of empirical theorizing it is the counterpart of the concepts ‘instrumental action’ or ‘strategic action’. Today (2011) I believe that it is more adequate to say that the meaning of the concept communicationas a reconstructive conceptis equivalent with ‘specifically human social interaction’ (see note 8).
- There are several good books in english on the categories constitutive for his conception of society and of social interaction (see Wellmer (1974), McCarthy (1978), Geuss (1981), Ingram (1987), White (1988), Outhwaite (1994) among others.
- I limit myself in this chapter to the categories that are basic for Habermas’s theory of societyafter the shiftthat underwent his categorical framework in the mid-seventies. That is, after what rather loosly, has been called ’the linguistic turn’ in philosophy. I will come back to this shift in chapter I-7. Not everybody has noticed, that, in the case of Habermas, this shift goes together with the quite important introduction of the distinction of two main contexts of theory-formation: the empirical and the formal-pragmatic (see section 1.)
- The terms used in Fgure 2 are not in every instance the same as in Habermas’s Figure in (1975-a, verso of p.8). His own terminology is not always the same and sometimes not free of ambiguity. I have chosen for terms that in my opinion are the most adequate to express what Habermas intends to say. I am more concerned with the internal consistency of Habermas’s position than with exegetic accuracy.
- See Ruys (1981)
- Van Doorne and Vromen (1989), p.105-109, report on a series of interviews they have held with a number of business economists of the Dutch university departments of economics at Rotterdam and Tilburg.
- In Dutch departments of economics the distinction between the ‘experiential and observational’ object , and the theoretical object quite often was introduced by refering to one of the many editions of Bouma’s very influentialLeerboek der Bedrijfseconomie(1982) . According to Bouma, this distinction is linked to the distinction between an inductive and an axiomatic-deductive object approach. He stipulates that both approaches in business economics are irreducible; that they are complementary; and that it is irresponsible in social as well as in scientific terms to be satisfied with an axiomatic-deductive approach alone (compare Kastelein (1987), p. 74-82).
- Using Robbins’ terms (1935, 2nd ed.) one could say, that amaterialobject definition stands in the way of a formal object definition.
- See note 9
- He explicitly includes the conception of ‘bounded rationality’ in his critical analysis .
- See Van Doorne and Vromen (1983).
- Van Doorne and Gielen (1981) have shown that for this architectural construction, implying three distinct forms of interaction, support can be found in W.Kapp (1961).
- See Van Doorne (1986), p. 86-88. The schema of Figure 3 is reproduced from Van Doorne (1985), p.274. Compare Habermas (1976a), p.259. I have left out the speech act functions and I have differentiated the validity claims in what I have called the aspects of design and of realization. For the meaning and the use of these two terms I refer to (Van Doorne, 1986), p. 146 and to chapter I-7.
- In everyday life interactions, reasonableness is a multidimensional quality criterium we use when we judge our own or other people’s behavior. Rationality is mainly spoken of in a research framework for the social sciences. For instance, ‘rational behaviour’ is a key notion in economics as well as in sociology and political science. It is not a quality criterium dependent on interactive judgement, but a one-dimensional, externally applicable criterium concerning the adequacy of behaviour.
- Hargreaves Heap (1989), p.208