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Double symmetry in Niklas Luhmann's moral communication

Ayumi Higuchi (Business Management, Fukuoka University, Fukuoka, Japan)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 5 August 2021

Issue publication date: 29 March 2022




This study aims to review Luhmann's theory of moral communication while focusing on symmetry conditions, in light of Armin Nassehi's criticism, to clarify issues regarding this concept. Then, Luhmann's symmetry condition is reconstructed as a concept containing double meaning via a case study in Japan. Correspondingly, interesting situations and characteristics of moral communication, such as “inflation,” the “polemogene” and ubiquity of moral communication, are interpreted more consistently.


In today's society, moral communication may spiral out of control and even be fatal. By examining Niklas Luhmann's theory, in this paper, the author elaborates on why and how this mechanism occurs.


The author emphasizes that the suspicion pertaining to the asymmetry of communication is stressed in the case of anonymity. When an individual communicates using a moral code, it is impossible to discern whether the implications of self-bindingness are undermined or not through observations or consequences of communication and can only be questioned or confirmed through communication. However, criticizing the outburst of the masses and exchanging blame by isolating only one aspect of such a phenomenon will only be superficial.


This study reveals that the very condition that makes moral communication possible enables people to communicate respectfully or contemptuously with others without any special qualification. Such an analysis can serve as a theoretical underpinning for the analysis of today's phenomena.



This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP20K22141 and Fukuoka University Grant Number 204007.


Higuchi, A. (2022), "Double symmetry in Niklas Luhmann's moral communication", Kybernetes, Vol. 51 No. 5, pp. 1868-1878.



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