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On § 5: dealing with issues of practical philosophy
In virtue of ethical pragmatics: part 2 of 6

  March 19, 2014 gary e. davis  

Habermas’s favorable discussion of Putnam here subtlely sets up his approach to critique of Putnam’s continuum between fact and value, but reproduces occlusion of lifeworld context that may be implicit to Putnam’s view. I don’t know about Putnam. But I can see that JH occludes lifeworld context that is integral to understanding the contiuum. 

You’ll recall how I gave importance to lifeworld context in the beginning of my discussion, in terms of Putnam, as represented by Habermas. Then I showed how JH was occluding the lifeworld context that is integral to the continuum. This continues in his § 5, gradually.

The “complex undertaking” of formal inquiry “embodies none other than the very type of intelligence that determines our ordinary practices and everyday communication” (222). Thus, it’s the developmental background of inquirial capability that is expressed. “There is an internal connection between the practice of inquiry and the contexts of the lifeworld in which it is rooted.”

But when the discussion gets to Kant, Habermas shifts attention that occludes the developmental dimension. Recall that it’s the developmental background that provides the value sphericality of overt judgment for Putnam (evidently). And above, the locus of capability is developmental. 

Quoting Putnam, “As Kant saw, what the universe of physics leaves out is the very thing that makes that universe possible for us, or that makes it possible for us to construct that universe from our ‘sensory stimulations’—the intentional, valuational referential work of ‘synthesis.’ I claim, in short, that without values we would not have a world” (222-3). JH notes that “Putnam appropriates the distinction between understanding and reason that Kant uses in the Critique of Pure Reason.” The lifeworld developmental background of capability is the Kantian domain of understanding, which for Putnam is the basis of there being a world. 

But action-orienting value—related to interests of self-actualization, managing one’s life fruitfully, etc.—are a different sort of value from what’s involved in normatively constrained interaction. Inasmuch as Kant’s practical reason is about morally-relevant action (and Habermas socializes practical reason as intrinsically intersubjective), it’s not about the domain of understanding that pertains to development of capabilities, life-centered interests of action, and value-based lifeworld activity. JH sets up the reader to confuse the difference by presuming his Kantian concern for formal practical reason: “The point here is that a philosophical clarification of the epistemic activities of the understanding in itself calls for the practical justification of value orientations.”

No. Putnam’s point (I presume) is about the background of value-oriented action, not the justification to others of value-oriented inquiry in formalized interaction. “Without ethics,” writes JH, “epistemology is incomplete because reason as such is practical. Naturally the practice of inquiry is directed toward truth and objectivity...” (223). Habermas now details his understanding of a “normatively structured enterprise” of scientific inquiry. 

So, Putnam’s lifeworld-oriented point is just lifted into the context of formalized inquiry, which involves interactive normativity, not lifeworld-based action orientations. I anticipate that this allows JH to later criticize Putnam for not being able to explicate a continuum between discourse on factuality and discourse on value, because Habermas has broken a relation between lifeworld-based action and formalized interaction by occluding (even suppressing) the former. (What happens, though, is that the issue of continuum disappears in dispute about discrete difference—Habermas’s stance—between the stature of value and/or truth.)

From a lifeworld perspective, Putnam’s next-quoted point makes good sense: “There are ‘ought-implying facts’ in the realm of belief fixation; that is an excellent reason not to accept the view that there cannot be ‘ought-implying facts’ anywhere” (223). But if one reads that through a frame attending to normativity of formalized inquiry, the point seems suspicious. Says Habermas: “This formulation already indicates the argumentative strategy Putnam uses to transplant realism from its home turf in epistemology to ethics.” True, if one keeps in mind that the basis of continuum is twofold: from [a] developmental background to [b] formal inquiry; and from [i] an embodied realm of selective factuality and factical value to [ii] a methodological venue. But Habermas may have a more abstracted (occlusive?) kind of focus in mind. 

NEXT: part 3 here, re: § 6 of the essay –|– main page of “In virtue... / Introduction

Also: This discussion is associated with the “good thinking” area of

Be fair. © 2017, g. e. davis.