Social Epistemology and the Politics of Omission

Episteme 2 (2):107-118 (2005)
Contemporary liberal democracy employs a conception of legitimacy according to which political decisions and institutions must be at least in principle justifiable to all citizens. This conception of legitimacy is difficult to satisfy when citizens are deeply divided at the level of fundamental moral, religious, and philosophical commitments. Many have followed the later Rawls in holding that where a reasonable pluralism of such commitments persists, political justification must eschew appeal to any controversial moral, religious, or philosophical premises. In this way, the Rawlsian account of public political justification involves a politics of omission, where citizens are expected to bracket off their most fundamental commitments and seek justifications that draw only from uncontroversial premises. This politics of omission is necessary, Rawls argues, for political stability. But there is good social epistemic evidence for the view that the politics of omission encourages insularity among like-minded groups, and that this insularity in turn generates extremism. So omission is likely to lead to instability, not stability
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DOI 10.3366/epi.2005.2.2.107
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References found in this work BETA
John Rawls (1993). Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press.
Amy Gutmann (1996). Democracy and Disagreement. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

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