Problems with critical theory
Habermas sought to address two basic questions which had been raised in the work of earlier theorists: a how can critical theory be connected to political practice, i. Thus, in their examples, they do not analyze the specific business situation and managers' consequent motivations, showing how perverted social arrangements induce managers to behave corruptly. Since the proletariat, Marx's agent of change, did not act as predicted, effecting a radical restructuring of society, critical theorists propose that they themselves and other like-minded intellectuals serve as the agents of change Habermas , pp. In the case of the minivan, for example, no individual or team could ever engage the social and historical totality imbricated with it, the demographic, lifestyle, strategic, design, engineering, and marketing considerations to name just a few of the relevant social and historical factors. Ignored by many in "critical realist" circles, however, is that Kant's immediate impetus for writing his "Critique of Pure Reason" was to address problems raised by David Hume 's skeptical empiricism which, in attacking metaphysics, employed reason and logic to argue against the knowability of the world and common notions of causation. The utopian terminus and standard of truth for Habermas is "rational consensus," allegedly the natural result of a speech situation in which everyone fully understands everyone else. Koenker, Diane P. It seems more plausible to suggest, as Marx , pp. If that is so, how can a researcher step out of this historicity and offer a critique of society by a transcendent rational standard? Hegel, G. Furthermore, this allows professionals the ability to create more specialized campaigns using the knowledge of other areas of study; moreover, it provides them with the ability to comprehend and change social institutions through advocacy. Given that a consensus is not sought or achieved, the consumer researcher has no foundation except personal politics, insights, and values when she or he acts unilaterally to bring about social change.
This is all the more true because consumer researchers are not empowered by an explicit constituency as are politicians, managers, union officials, and even employees of the Consumer Union.
These principles are applicable even if, as we have argued, ahistorical critique and rational consensus are illusions and the critical theoretic research program is unworkable.
Like the philosophers of the Enlightenment, they suggest that it is possible to subject any and all traditions to a critical examination, then, if contradictions arise, to imagine a better social order and replace the old with the new.
A theoretical framework establishes a perspective in which to view, interpret, and solve a problem. Though admirable in some respects, this speech situation is hardly ideal, for while the advisory board might achieve consensus on occasion, it does so by being ideologically homogeneous to begin with.
As an approximate example of the ideal speech situation, they offer the Calvert Social Investment Fund CSIFa mutual fund which specializes in socially responsible investing.
It calls into question the normative foundation proposed by Murray and Ozanne, and it argues that in their paper, critical theory fails the test of praxis. But it is unrealistic, Fay says, for "those enthralled by the Enlightenment spirit which animates critical social science.
This is why the notion of scrutinizing any and all of one's inheritance is literally nonsense.
Although we recognize the problem, we choose to align with Habermas and his notion of an ideal speech situation.
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