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James Bohman on Discourse - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 155
Discourse/Bohman: Discourse in political practices and in the public sphere seems to be directed to an implied audience or 'unseen gallery' and thus goes beyond 'sociable' interaction among friends (Gamson, 1992(1): 20).
1) Thus, discourse is communication directed to an indefinite audience, and an extension of face-to-face interaction that is made possible by technologies of writing, mass media or computer assisted communication and by formal political institutions (Thompson, 1995)(2).
Second order coummuncation/reflexion: (...) discourse that has the property of being public is also reflexive or second-order communication; it must at least
Gaus I 156
include the possibility of communication about the mode and assumptions of communication itself, for example, whether it is really public or not (Habermas, 1984)(3). This reflexivity is apparent especially when communication fails, when the assumptions that we make for practical purposes 'until further notice' in Garfinkel's (1969(4): 33) phrase are no longer successful in producing mutual understanding or co-ordination of action. In this case, speakers must make explicit the basis of communication itself by providing reasons and arguments that others might be able to accept. Just how far the demand for justification can be pursued by speakers and institutionalized in practices is subject to dispute among the proponents of various theories of discourse.
Linguistics: For some, the linguistic medium makes reflexivity possible, while for others it imposes
insuperable limits on reflection (Hoy and McCarthy, 1994)(5). >Discourse/Political Theory, >Discourse/Social sciences.


1. Gamson, William (1992) Talking Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2. Thompson, John (1995) The Media and Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
3. Habermas, Jürgen (1984) The Theory of Communicative Action, vol. I. Boston: Beacon.
4. Garfinkel, Harold (1969) Studies in Ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
5. Hoy, David and Thomas, McCarthy (1994) Critical Theory. London: Blackwell.

Bohman, James 2004. „Discourse Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Bohman, James
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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