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Discourse Theory

Habermas discourse theory assumes that the specific type of validity claim aims to justify the cognitive goal or topic of argumentation determines the specific argumentative practices appropriate for such justification. Discourse theory calls for a pragmatic analysis of argumentation as a social practice. Such analysis aims to reconstruct the normative presuppositions that structure the discourse of competent arguers. To get at these presuppositions one cannot simply describe argumentation as it empirically occurs. Habermas assumes one cannot fully articulate these normative presuppositions solely in terms of the logical properties of arguments. Rather he distinguishes three aspects of argument making practices, argument as product, as procedure and as process which he loosely aligns with the traditional perspectives on argument evaluation of logic, dialectic and rhetoric pragmatically each of these perspectives functions as a level of presupposition involved in the assessment of the cogency the goodness or strength of arguments.

Habermas discourse theory also has implications for international modes of deliberation hence for the debate about a potential cosmopolitan political order. The current discussion moves along four main axis of political or social, institutional or non-institutional, democratic or non-democratic and transnational or cosmopolitan. Theories are formed by background assumptions about the scope of cosmopolitism whether it is moral to the extent that it is concerned with individuals and their life opportunities social to the extent that it makes associations and institutions central or political to the extent that it focuses on specifically legal and political institutions including citizenship.

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