Normative Grounds of Social Criticism, The

Kant, Rawls, and Habermas

By Kenneth Baynes

Paperback : 9780791408681, 256 pages, December 1991
Hardcover : 9780791408674, 256 pages, December 1991

Table of contents

List of Abbreviations


1. Kant's Theory of Justice


I. Introduction
II. Justice and Morality on Kant
III. Property Rights and the Social Contract
IV. Conclusion: Problems and Prospects


2. Justice as Fairness: Rawls's Kantian Interpretation


I. Introduction
II. The Original Position as a "Prodecural Representation" of the Categorical Imperative
III. Other Kantian Aspects of Rawls's Theory of Justice
IV. Reflective Equilibrium and the Problem of Justification


3. Communicative Action and Formal Pragmatics: Habermas's Defense of a Discourse Ethics


I. Introduction
II. Communicative Action and Moral Theory
III. Theories of Meaning and Formal Pragmatics
IV. The Idea and Jusitification of a Discourse Ethics


4. The Concept of the Person, Moral Autonomy, and Generalizable Interests


I. Introduction
II. Rawls's Model-Conception of the Person
III. Moral Sutonomy as Communicative Competence
IV. Primary Goods and Generalizable Interests


5. From Distributive Justice to Normative Social Criticism


I. Rawls's Two Principles of Justice
II. The Basic Structure and Normative Social Criticism
III. Justice, Democratic Participation, and the Public Sphere
IV. Habermas's Concept of the Public Sphere




This book is a comparative study of Kant, Rawls, and Habermas and a critical survey of recent theories of justice. It defends the thesis that the normative ground or basis of social criticism is found in a concept of the person as a free and equal moral being.

Kenneth Baynes is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at State University of New York, Stony Brook.


"This is an outstanding contribution to the theory of justice. In addition to well-researched, lucid, and insightful accounts of its three principals, it offers far and away the best discussion available of the relative strengths and weaknesses of Rawls and Habermas. Baynes has provided us with an instructive example of how the usual, but often artificial divide between Continental and Anglo-American political theory can be successfully bridged, if only one brings sufficient wit and energy to the task. "— Thomas McCarthy, Northwestern University