Dispute between John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas: about proceduralism and substantialism within the deliberative democracy model


  • Maria Zakharchenko КНУ імені Тараса Шевченка


deliberative democracy, public sphere, substantialism, proceduralism, democratic legitimacy, principle of justice


The author compares Jürgen Habermas’ and John Rawls’ theories on the ground of their views concerning deliberative democracy. Habermas’ point may be distinguished as procedural theory meanwhile Rawls’ works can be analyzed as an example of substantialism. Rawls in his “Theory of justice” analyzes substantive elements of nowadays society, naming justice as the basic one, whereas Habermas stresses on the importance of procedural aspect of fair decision. To clarify the main differences between Habermas’ and Rawls’ theories the author discovers their views on the concept of public sphere. Admitting the importance of unofficial elements in public sphere, Habermas is convinced in their importance for civic society. Unlike Habermas, Rawls excludes these elements from democratic procedures. The article also presents Habermas’ critic on the Rawls’ concept “veil of ignorance”. The main thesis which is put forward in the article is that differences between Rawls’ and Habermas’ positions are due to different understanding of the concept of justice. A key idea is that Habermas understands justice as the space of normativity, as something entirely relating to legitimacy.

Author Biography

Maria Zakharchenko, КНУ імені Тараса Шевченка

аспірантка кафедри філософії


Розанвалон П. Демократична легітимність. Безсторонність, рефлексивність, наближеність : пер. с фр. / П'єр Розанвалон; пер. Є.Т. Марічев ; ред., передмова Валентина Омельянчика . — Київ : ВД «Києво-Могилянська академія», 2009.

Ролз Дж. Теорія справедливості / Д. Ролз ; пер. О. Мокровольський. — К. : Видавництво Соломії Павличко «Основи», 2001.

Habermas J. Faktizität und Geltung. — Frankfurt am Main, 1992.

Habermas J. Reconciliation through the public use of Reason: Remarks on John Rawls’ political liberalism // The Journal of philosophy. — 1995 (Mar.). — Vol. 92, №3. — P. 109–131.

McCarthy Th. Kantian constructivism and reconstructivism: Rawls and Habermas in dialogue // Ethics. — 1994 (Oct.). — Vol. 105, № 1. — P. 44–63.

Mouffe C. ‘Deliberative Democracy or Agonistic Pluralism?’ // Social Research. — 1999. — Vol. 66, № 3. — P. 745–758.

Rawls J. Political liberalism: reply to Habermas // The Journal of philosophy. — 1995 (Mar.). — Vol. 92, № 3. — P. 132–180.


Abstract views: 268



How to Cite

Zakharchenko, M. (2017). Dispute between John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas: about proceduralism and substantialism within the deliberative democracy model. Filosofska Dumka, (5), 123–129. Retrieved from https://dumka.philosophy.ua/index.php/fd/article/view/138



Download data is not yet available.