A critique of pragmatism and deliberative democracy

Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 45 (1):pp. 50-54 (2009)
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Abstract

This paper offers two potential worries in Robert B. Talisse's A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy. The first worry is that is that the picture of democracy on offer is incomplete. While Talisse correctly argues that democracy is about more than elections, democracy is also about more than deliberation between citizens. Talisse's deliberative democracy is problematic to the degree its view of deliberation fails to account for democracy. The second worry we may have concerns the relationship between Talisse's Peircean pragmatism and deliberative democracy. If this pragmatism is always open to revision and change in light of future evidence, then no pragmatist should adhere to only one particular political system, such as democracy. When we claim that only one system can ever be justified, then we fail to honour our professed openness to revision and change in the future. If my analysis is correct, then I do not aim to demonstrate that Talisse's Peircean pragmatism is incorrect, only incomplete. Thus, the hope of this paper is to help develop this pragmatism further.

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Thom Brooks
Durham University

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