Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Communication Studies






This thesis proposes that those aspects of life that arise and are intensified by our current dependency on the automobile (termed 'automobility') is antithetical to the development and maintenance of our capacities for moral reasoning and conversation. Three tendencies of automobility are drawn from the literature: (1) the dispersion and fragmentation of opportunities for discursive interaction; (2) an individualistic conception of social members, which is fostered by heightened isolation; and (3) the privatization of the substantive issues associated with automobility. Habermas and Benhabib's discourse ethics is used as a framework for addressing the following questions: (1) what is important about discursive interaction? (2) how do our conceptions of subjectivity influence our interactions with others? and (3) how does treating issues associated with automobility as those of private concern influence our ability, as a society, to discover the necessary aspects of a morally justified coordination of action (or way of life)? Located in the tradition of critical theory, Habermas' work connects issues of rationality, moral validity, normative legitimacy, and potential for emancipatory social conditions. Benhabib reconceptualizes the definition of the moral point of view that adheres in discourse ethics, and argues that the necessary orientation towards the generalized other in moral-practical discourses does not preclude a simultaneous orientation towards the concrete other. In terms of mobility practices and services, the priorities and justifications of existing policy must be challenged. Prioritizing flexible mobility as a good to be maximized subordinates other forms of social action to that purpose, while systems that minimize mobility reflect a priority of enhancing participatory life, which involves increased communicative action. Automobility is problematic for the very reason that it disrupts communicative action, and the justificatory force of discourse. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 45-01, page: 0178. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 2006.