Integrative Economic Ethics

Concept and critique

Alexander Lorch and Thomas Beschorner

Initially developed by Jürgen Habermas1 and Karl-Otto Apel2, discourse ethics remains one of the most influential critical theories of the twentieth century. Habermas’ book The Theory of Communicative Action (1981) and his later Remarks on Discourse Ethics (1991/1992, 1993)3 describe how his ethical theory does not instruct people “upon what they decide but how they come to these decisions” (our emphasis, Baert 2001: 85) in fair conditions of discourse. This differentiation between “what” and “how” points to two important streams in normative ethics: material ethics on the one hand and formal or process-oriented ethics on the other hand. Material ethics ...

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