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Discourse, performativity and the Irish marriage equality referendum debate

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This article seeks to explore key aspects of Habermas’s critical social theory through the prism of Ireland’s 2015 Same-Sex Marriage Equality Referendum. Beginning with an exploration of the Kantian and Hegelian basis of Habermas’s theory of modernity, this article traces how Ireland rejected in this instance the inherited tradition and practices of its past when it voted to strike down a constitutional clause prohibiting marriage between same-sex couples. Also discussed are the historical obstacles to this self-generated normativity and the role of performativity in the lead-up to the plebiscite, a topic that leads inevitably to an exploration of the scholarly synergies between Habermas’s thesis and the works of Judith Butler.
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Keywords: discourse; intersubjectivity; marriage equality; performativity; plea for recognition; theory of modernity; universality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University College Cork

Publication date: June 1, 2017

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  • Empedocles aims to provide a publication and discussion platform for those working at the interface of philosophy and the study of communication, in all its aspects. This Journal is published in cooperation with the Section for the Philosophy of Communication of ECREA, the European Communication Reserach and Education Association.
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