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Between discourse and practice : constitutional rhetoric and political reality in Philippine society in light of the Habermasian theory of law and democracy

posted on 09.01.2017, 01:06 authored by Hermida, Ranilo
The present study attempts an interfacing between the theory of law and democracy of Jürgen Habermas and the Philippine style of democracy based on the latter’s constitutional vision and the actual political reality in the country. Habermas constructs his philosophy as a critical theory to advance the cause of human freedom. Such pursuit of philosophy as emancipation is what underlies the theory of law and democracy which he articulates in Between Facts and Norms. The first part of the present study elaborates his theory with emphasis on his assertion of the equiprimordial relationship between the private autonomy of individuals and the public autonomy of citizens. The study also highlights his proceduralist paradigm through which Habermas proposes to uphold the normative demands of democracy in the face of the myriad difficulties that confront democratic practice in modern society. The second part of the present study discusses certain provisions of the Philippine constitution. Since it was promulgated immediately after the success of the Filipinos’ struggle to bring down a dictatorship, the said constitution contains provisions expressly intended to restore the democratic institutions and processes that were almost destroyed by decades of Martial Law. These provisions reflect some of the features proposed by Habermas in his proceduralist theory of modern democracy. The analytical framework used to discuss the Philippine constitution is therefore based on the Habermasian template for the rule of democracy. The analysis is further situated within actual political realities in Philippine society at present. By looking at the Philippine constitution through the normative principles of habermasian democratic theory, the present study hopes to generate a keener appreciation of the dynamics of Philippine democratic politics in order to underscore its possibilities as well as its deficiencies. By employing the theoretical assertions of Habermas in examining the actual workings of Philippine democracy, this study seeks some validation of his arguments and proposals, a modification perhaps of some tentative views, and possibly an affirmation of his advocacy of democracy. There have been many studies of Habermasian theory of law and democracy, as there have been countless studies on the Philippine constitutional and democratic experience. There has not been until this study a work that employs the theory of Habermas as a framework to analyze an actually existing democracy, using it both as an exemplar and criterion for critique and evaluation of the democratic potential and practice in a particular country. There has never been a study, moreover, of the Philippine constitutional and political institutions and processes from the viewpoint of Habermas, which is to say, in terms of their commitment to and actualization of the democratic ideals and principles that he advances. The present study stakes a modest claim as a pioneering effort in this regard.


Principal supervisor

Peter Murphy

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

School of English, Communications and Performance Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts