Den politiska filosofins retoriska natur - En idéskiss rörande en aporía

  • Jan Lionel Sellberg


The rhetorical nature of political philosophy

The aim of this article is to carry out an examination of the linguistic realism in the theoretical construction of three modern classical works in political philoso- phy. Two of the works deal with the social contract, namely John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice (1972) and Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974). The third work is about communicative action as analysed by Jürgen Habermas in his Theorie de kommunikativen Handels (1981).

With the Greek word pistis, i.e. trust, credibility, as a point of departure, in con- junction with an action-oriented view of language as represented by rhetoric, an aporìa is uncovered in these works. The aporìa originates from the very fact that the authors are practicing a linguistic double-norm in their theorizing: they use rhetoric to persuade the reader that the fictitious individuals acting in the state- building process (Rawls, Nozick) or in the ideal dialogue-situation (Habermas) must use a language totally free from rhetoric elements. As a result, the rationality of their work as theoretical constructions is severely undermined. This condition is revealed by a textual analysis on two levels: the intertextual and the intratextual.