Habermas on Ethics, Morality and European Identity

Russell Keat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines Habermas’s theoretical account of ethical (as distinct from moral) reasoning in politics, presented in Between facts and norms, and considers its possible application to his later discussion of European identity and the need for political union to address the impact of globalisation and the threat posed by neoliberalism. It argues that this practical application of the theory point to serious defects in it: a failure to show that ethics differs from morality in being inseparable from identity, and an inability to explain how a genuinely rational debate about the specifically ethical dimensions of political issues can be conducted. It concludes by considering the relationship between Habermas’s view of the place of ethics in political reasoning and debates about neutrality and perfectionism in liberal theory, including Dobson’s recent argument in Supranational citizenship that different principles should operate at different levels of governance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-557
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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