This essay is the first of a two part analysis that focuses on Siebren Miedema's application of Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action to critical pedagogy and action research. Part One clarifies the distinctive elements of critical theory and method, identifies the central debates over Habermas's universal pragmatics and discourse ethics and sets the stage for a theoretical and methodological critique in Part Two. Siebren Miedema's formulation of Habermas's theory of communicative action demonstrates one particular strategy for the theoretical appropriation of critical theory. The author argues that Miedema's conception of a separate mode of action, called pedagogical action, exemplifies an inadequate understanding of the modes of action distinguished by Habermas. Although the author sympathizes with Miedema's call to apply Habermas's insights to the pedagogical realm, he concludes that Miedema's approach would drastically limit the theory's critical potential and he calls for pedagogical elaborations to be consistent with Habermas's critical theory and method.