Spiteri, Anthony - University of Malta, Department of Philosophy, Msida, Malta.

According to Habermas' Theory of Communicative Action, the normative claims of equality, reciprocity, and solidarity are implied in the very structure of communication aimed at mutual understanding. For Habermas, these three claims are constitutive of self-identity which are inextricable from the various modes of life involved in social interaction. Yet according to Habermas' universal pragmatics, the status and content of these claims remain at the purely procedural level of counterfactual suppositions and, considering the character of modernity today, this runs the risk of foreshortening the historical memory and utopian thought that is the mark of an authentic sense of the subject in an age when consciousness above all is at stake.

Following H. Peukert, I shall argue that, for a genuine critical theory of society to include a true emancipatory philosophy of history, we require a way of grounding the concept of solidarity in the context of past generations and hence of referring the notion of solidarity to its ultimate theological context. Consequently, solidarity is not just a regulative or procedural category embedded within language but ultimately refers to the notion of the ongoing presence of previous generations in our midst, and thus demonstrates its necessary theological coordinates.