Ojvind Larsen

Professor of Philosophy and Sociology, Copenhagen Business School

Øjvind Larsen’s topics are first of all ethics, political philosophy and moral sociology. Throughout his career, he has studied ethical problems from many perspectives. He started as a theologian where his main interest was the ethical consequences of Christianity from an existentialist perspective. Influenced by the social and political movements in 1968, his scope changed to a social perspective and here he found it difficult, not to say impossible to sustain this new perspective on the grounds of a theological justification. Strongly influenced by Marx’s theories on politics, economy and history, he went on with studies in sociology and history. In the end, this Marxist perspective became a cul-de-sac and therefore it was a help to study Max Weber’s sociological theory and especially his studies of the protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. This became Larsen’s way to a new perspective because Weber could explain the rationalization and the modernization of society not only as a process of change in the production relations but also as a change in the horizon of understanding of social relations and society. In his dissertation The Right to Dissent – The Critical Principle of Discourse Ethics and Deliberative Democracy, Larsen set about studying Habermas’s theory of communicative action as a critique of Weber’s limited understanding of rationalization, which is a technical-instrumental form of rationalization of European society. Habermas claims that modern society has potential for a more fundamental form of rationalization, which consists of empowering the good argument in dialogue. This potential has a huge impact on the understanding of modern communicative ethics, politics and deliberative democracy.

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