Masthead CMC Magazine / January 1, 1996

* A Plea for Understanding--Beyond False Dilemmas on the Net, by Charles Ess

The Rules of Reason and the Requirement for Justice

For Habermas, the rules of reason immediately articulate a requirement of justice: if we as a community agree to abide by rules which emerge from open discussion--justice requires that this discussion be one in which all who are affected by its outcomes are free to speak (cf. rule 1). That is, a limited group of speakers cannot justly determine rules which will apply to a larger group, if members of the larger group are excluded from the discussion.

Finally, Habermas points out that such discourse is not simply a matter of logic and reason as we consider arguments; in addition, democratic discussion requires solidarity. Such solidarity involves concern for the well-being of both our fellow human beings and of the community at large: it manifests itself in part as we empathically take the perspective of "the Other," in the effort to more fully understand the impact of discussion and proposed actions on --the Other.

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