Richard Posner's democratic pragmatism and the problem of ignorance

Critical Review 16 (1):1-22 (2004)
Abstract
Abstract Richard Posner's Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy urges that political and legal decision makers should be guided by what he calls ?everyday pragmatism,? rather than by ?abstract? moral theory. He links his conception of pragmatic government to Sclmmpeter's unromantic view of democracy. Posner argues that judicial review should be based on a combination of pragmatism and adherence to this limited conception of democracy, rather than sticking closely to ?formalist? theories of adjudication, which demand strict adherence to traditional legal norms. However, Posner's consequentialist pragmatism fails to provide an adequate guide to judicial decision making, because it does not give us any criterion for deciding which consequences are desirable. His Schumpeterian theory of democracy, too, is problematic because it does not sufficiently consider the shortcomings exposed in recent scholarship in political science and economics.
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