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Dialogic politics and the civilising process

by Andrew Linklater
Review of International Studies ()
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Recent debates about Habermas's conception of dialogic politics have focused on whether its commitment to ethical universalism has an emancipatory potential or threatens the assimilation of non-liberal forms of life within exclusionary Western cultural frameworks. One way of contributing to this unfinished debate is to ask whether discourse ethics contributes to the modern civilising process, as Norbert Elias defined that term. All societies, according to Elias, have civilising processes or ways of trying to solve the problem of how persons can satisfy basic needs without destroying, frustrating, demeaning or in other ways harming each other time and time again in their search for this satisfaction. This formulation invites the question of whether or not the discourse theory of morality is the best available means of extending the civilising process in global politics. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

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