The author develops a "folk" epistemology and shows that the theoretical commitments underlying our everyday practices of assertaion, belief, and challenge provide a justification of democratic politics that transcends deep divisions at the level of citizens' moral and religious comprehensive doctrines.
Pluralism frustrates liberalism's conception of legitimacy. The attempts by Rawls and Galston to preserve liberal legitimacy in light of pluralism are critically engaged, and found lacking. The paper closes with a sketch of an "agonistic" liberalism.
No one wishing to possess a concise yet conceptually comprehensive account of the questions bedeviling liberalism—all topics are tracked with a fine bibliography—will be disappointed with Robert B. Talisse’s Democracy After Liberalism. While special attention is given to liberalism’s theoretical and practical relations with democracy and citizenship, widely documented troubles within historically democratic cultures motivate and contextualize the analysis. Since we need “a deliberative account of democracy that is not precommitted to liberal or antiliberal goals” (p. 95), Talisse aims to (...) realize his “pragmatic deliberativism” after liberalism. (shrink)
In a recent article, Iris Marion Young raises several challenges to deliberative democracy on behalf of political activists. In this paper, the author defends a version of deliberative democracy against the activist challenges raised by Young and devises challenges to activism on behalf of the deliberative democrat.
Democracy After Liberalism (Routledge, 2005) argues for a non-liberal interpretation of democratic politics. The argument of the book moves in two stages. First, a case is made against liberalism, the dominant interpretation of democratic politics. I argue that liberalism suffers an internal tension between its conception of legitimacy and its neutralist stance towards the good; this internal tension manifests in palpable external social ills that liberalism cannot sufficiently remedy. Second, an alternative, “post liberal” view is developed according to which democracy (...) combines a civic republican conception of freedom with a deliberativist view of democratic practice. Democratic deliberation is in turn understood on a pragmatic-epistemic model. According to this view, democratic deliberation is aimed at truth and requires a virtue-theoretic account of deliberative processes. As a civic republican view, liberal neutrality is rejected and a version of perfectionism is endorsed; however, the homogenizing tendencies of communitarian proposals are avoided insofar as the formative role of the state is taken to be epistemic and not moral. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
In his _Democracy and Tradition_, Jeffrey Stout confronts the problem of religious reasons in public deliberation. He finds Rawlsian "public reason" proposals unsatisfactory, and attempts to devise a better account. The authors argue that Stout's view does not avoid the problems attenindg the Rawlsian position.
The revival of pragmatism has brought renewed enthusiasm for John Dewey's conception of democracy. Drawing upon Rawlsian concerns regarding the fact of reasonable pluralism, the author argues that Deweyan democracy is unworthy of resurrection. A modified version of Deweyan democracy recently proposed by Elizabeth Anderson is then taken up and also found to be lacking. Then the author proposes a model of democracy that draws upon Peirce's social epistemology. The result is a non-Deweyan but nonetheless pragmatist option in democratic theory.
The author builds upon recent work by Allen Buchanan and develops a comprehensive version of liberalism based in a partially comprehensive social epistemic doctrine. The author then argues that this version of liberalism is sufficiently accommodating of the fact of reasonable pluralism. The conclusion is that the founding premise of political liberalism admits of a counterexample; there is a version of comprehensive liberalism that is sufficiently pluralistic.
Why democracy? Most often this question is met with an appeal to some decidedly moral value, such as equality, liberty, dignity, or even peace. But in contemporary democratic societies, there is deep disagreement and conflict about the precise nature and relative worth of these values. And when democracy votes, some of those who lose will see the prevailing outcome as not merely disappointing, but morally intolerable. How should citizens react when confronted with a democratic result that they regard as intolerable? (...) Should they revolt, or instead pursue democratic means of social change? In this book, Robert Talisse argues that each of us has reasons to uphold democracy - even when it makes serious moral errors - and that these reasons are rooted in our most fundamental epistemic commitments. His original and compelling study will be of interest to a wide range of readers in political philosophy and political theory. (shrink)
In this brief essay, we clarify Cohen’s ‘Facts and Principles’ argument, and then argue that the objections posed by two recent critiques of Cohen—Robert Jubb (Res Publica 15:337–353, 2009) and Edward Hall (Res Publica 19:173–181, 2013)—look especially vulnerable to the charge of being self-defeating. It may still be that Cohen’s view concerning facts and principles is false. Our aim here is merely to show that two recent attempts to demonstrate its falsity are unlikely to succeed.
Republicans hold that freedom is non-domination rather than non-interference. This entails that any instance of interference that does not involve domination is not freedom-lessening. The case for thinking of freedom as non-domination proceeds mostly by way of a handful of highly compelling cases in which it seems intuitive to say of some person that he or she is unfree despite being in fact free from interference. In this essay, I call attention to a kind of case which directs attention to (...) what seems to me to be a highly counterintuitive element of the republican conception of freedom. (shrink)
In this book, Robert Talisse critically examines the moral and political implications of pluralism, the view that our best moral thinking is indeterminate and that moral conflict is an inescapable feature of the human condition. Through a careful engagement with the work of William James, Isaiah Berlin, John Rawls, and their contemporary followers, Talisse distinguishes two broad types of moral pluralism: metaphysical and epistemic. After arguing that metaphysical pluralism does not offer a compelling account of value and thus cannot ground (...) a viable conception of liberal politics, Talisse proposes and defends a distinctive variety of epistemic pluralism. According to this view, certain value conflicts are at present undecidable rather than intrinsic. Consequently, epistemic pluralism countenances the possibility that further argumentation, enhanced reflection, or the acquisition of more information could yield rational resolutions to the kinds of value conflicts that metaphysical pluralists deem irresolvable as such. Talisse’s epistemic pluralism hence prescribes a politics in which deep value conflicts are to be addressed by ongoing argumentation and free engagement among citizens; the epistemic pluralist thus sees liberal democracy is the proper political response to ongoing moral disagreement. While developing his view, Talisse engages central issues in contemporary liberal political theory, including toleration, state neutrality, public justification, and the accommodation of illiberal sub-cultures. This book will be of interest to ethicists, political philosophers, and political scientists. (shrink)
In A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy, I launched a pragmatist critique of Deweyan democracy and a pragmatist defense of an alternative view of democracy, one based in C. S. Peirce's social epistemology. In this article, I develop a more precise version of the criticism of Deweyan democracy I proposed in A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy, and provide further details of the Peircean alternative. Along the way, some recent critics are addressed.
Contemporary Neo-Berlinians contend that value pluralism is the best account of the moral universe we inhabit; they also contend that value pluralism provides a powerful case for liberalism. In this paper, I challenge both claims. Specifically, I will examine the arguments offered in support of value pluralism; finding them lacking, I will then offer some reasons for thinking that value pluralism is not an especially promising view of our moral universe.
An intuitive view regarding the epistemic significance of disagreement says that when epistemic peers disagree, they should suspend judgment. This abstemious view seems to embody a kind of detachment appropriate for rational beings; moreover, it seems to promote a kind of conciliatory inclination that makes for irenic and cooperative further discussion. Like many strategies for cooperation, however, the abstemious view creates opportunities for free-riding. In this essay, the authors argue that the believer who suspends judgment in the face of peer (...) disagreement is vulnerable to a kind of manipulation on the part of more tenacious peers. The result is that the abstemious view can have the effect of encouraging dogmatism. (shrink)
In a recent article, Thomas Nagel argues against the court’s decision to strike down the Dover school district’s requirement that biology teachers in Dover public schools inform their students about Intelligent Design. Nagel contends that this ruling relies on questionable demarcation between science and nonscience and consequently misapplies the Establishment Clause of the constitution. Instead, he argues in favor of making room for an open discussion of these issues rather than an outright prohibition against Intelligent Design. We contend that Nagel’s (...) arguments do not succeed. First, we argue that Nagel’s case trades on an ambiguity regarding the content of non-theological views and fails to engage adequately some of the problems of ID. Then we raise concerns about Nagel’s conclusion; specifically, we will point to three incongruities between Nagel’s argument and his conclusion, and then we will raise a more general worry about the likely impact of Nagel’s view. (shrink)
Folk epistemology?the idea that one can't help believing that one's beliefs are true?provides an alternative to political theorists' inadequate defenses of democracy. It implicitly suggests a dialectical, truth-seeking norm for dealing with people who do not share one's own beliefs. Folk epistemology takes us beyond Mill's consequentialist claim for democracy (that the free array of opinions in a deliberative democracy leads us to the truth); instead, the epistemic freedom of the democratic process itself makes citizens confident that evidence for one's (...) beliefs have not been distorted by a corrupt system. Since the starting point of folk epistemology is the meta-conviction that people believe that what they believe is true, it should also serve as a starting point for more rigorous scholarship that seeks to understand why people believe what they believe, instead of dismissing them as ?irrational? if one disagrees with their beliefs. (shrink)
Isaiah Berlin repeatedly attempted to derive liberalism from value pluralism. It is generally agreed that Berlin's arguments fail; however, neo-Berlinians have taken up the project of securing the entailment. This paper begins with an account of why the Berlinian project seems attractive to contemporary theorists. I then examine Berlin's argument. With this background in place, I argue that recent attempts by William Galston and George Crowder to rescue the Berlinian project do not succeed.
This short paper summarizes the main line of argument in my book, *A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy* (Routledge, 2007), which is the subject of a forthcoming symposium issue of the journal *Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society*.
The origins of pragmatism -- Pragmatism and epistemology -- Pragmatism and truth -- Pragmatism and metaphysics -- Pragmatism and ethics -- Pragmatism and politics -- Pragmatism and environmental ethics.
This is a short essay written for the forthcoming *Handbook of American Pragmatism* (Cheryl Misak, ed., Oxford University Press). The author argues that the standard narrative, according to which pragmatism went into eclipse in the years of the Cold War is nonviable.
For well over a decade, much of liberal political theory has accepted the founding premise of Rawls's political liberalism, according to which the fact of reasonable pluralism renders comprehensive versions of liberalism incoherent. However, the founding premise presumes that all comprehensive doctrines are moral doctrines. In this essay, the author builds upon recent work by Allen Buchanan and develops a comprehensive version of liberalism based in a partially comprehensive social epistemic doctrine. The author then argues that this version of liberalism (...) is sufficiently accommodating of the fact of reasonable pluralism. The conclusion is that the founding premise of political liberalism admits of a counterexample; there is a version of comprehensive liberalism that is sufficiently pluralistic. (shrink)