The unforced force of the better argument: Reason and power in Habermas’ political theory

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter focuses on Jurgen Habermas’ most complex, sophisticated, and ambitious attempt to confront the tension between reason and power, an attempt found in his magnum opus of legal and political theory, Between Facts and Norms (BFN). It offers the conceptual framework of BFN, the core of which is the internal tension between facticity and validity, between power and reason. Habermas claims that the tension between facticity and validity is fundamental to the theory of communicative action. The core of Habermas’ distinctive account of power in BFN is his distinction between communicative and administrative power, with positive law functioning as the mediator and translator between the two. Following Max Weber, however, Habermas argues that modern, complex social orders cannot be based solely on this intrapsychic mechanism of internalized norms. The social integration that Habermas views as necessary for stability in complex, postconventional societies depends upon a double repression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHabermas and Law
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781000108910
ISBN (Print)9781472428639
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences

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