Habermas Commentary/Books/TCA1/p40

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Heuristic Value of Lower-Level Validity Claims[edit]

The "levels" referred to (TCA p. 40.bot.-5) are the "higher-level validity claims, which are attached not to individual communicative utterances but to cultural objectivations -- to works of art, to moral and legal norms, to theories," where "[I]t is at this [higher level] of culturally stored and objectivated knowledge that we also find technologies and strategies in which theoretical or professional knowledge is organized with a view to specific practical contexts" (p. 40). The "individual communicative utterances" referenced in that quote include a handful of examples from actual practice (e.g., "You ought to make more efforts to recruit woman executives").

The concept, in the first quoted excerpt, is that such individual communicative utterances do contain validity claims -- that, indeed, the set of all possible "higher-level" validity claims is contained in the set of all possible lower-level validity claims. The heuristic value of the latter is, at the least, that examples derived from everyday experience may tend to provide more visceral and/or easily grasped versions of the claims as they would reappear at the higher level.