The Autopoietic Turn in Habermas’ Legal Philosophy

17 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2018  

Kevin W. Gray

Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: July 22, 2018


Since the publication of Between Facts and Norms, it appears to have gone largely unremarked by critical theorists that Habermas has wholly abandoned the neo‐Parsonian systems‐theoretic account of social systems developed in his middle period. In this paper, I argue not only that Habermas has developed a new vocabulary and theoretical structure for dealing with social systems such as law, but also that this new approach to social systems is incompatible with the neo‐Parsonianism of social systems developed in that early work. This is not to say that Habermas’ work in Between Facts and Norms should be set aside, but rather that the Parsonianism of The Theory of Communicative Action must be abandoned if Habermas’ jurisprudential project is to go ahead.

Keywords: critical theory, Frankfurt School, Habermas, autopoiesis

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Gray, Kevin W., The Autopoietic Turn in Habermas’ Legal Philosophy (July 22, 2018). Available at SSRN:

Kevin W. Gray (Contact Author)

Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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