Ideal Theory, Real Rationality: Habermas Versus Foucault and Nietzsche

Paper for the Political Studies Association’s 50th Annual Conference, The Challenges for Democracy in the 21st Century, London School of Economics and Political Science, 10-13 April 2000

20 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2013

See all articles by Bent Flyvbjerg

Bent Flyvbjerg

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Date Written: April 1, 2000

Abstract

Understanding rationality and power are key to understanding actual political and administrative behavior. Political and administrative theory that ignores this fact stand in danger of being at best irrelevant or, at worst, part of the problem it wishes to solve. The paper presents Jürgen Habermas as an example of a political philosopher who fails to recognize that actual political and administrative rationality largely disrupts the relevance of his ideal prescriptions. Michel Foucault is proposed as an antidote to Habermas in a comparative study of the two. Machiavellian verita effettuale (effective truth) and Nietzschean wirkliche Historie (real history) are seen as more effective means to understand and limit rationalization and power than Habermasian Diskursetik (discourse ethics).

Suggested Citation

Flyvbjerg, Bent, Ideal Theory, Real Rationality: Habermas Versus Foucault and Nietzsche (April 1, 2000). Paper for the Political Studies Association’s 50th Annual Conference, The Challenges for Democracy in the 21st Century, London School of Economics and Political Science, 10-13 April 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2278421 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2278421

Bent Flyvbjerg (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

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