Liberalism, polarization, and the aggregation problem

Synthese 203 (1):1-21 (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Successful public justification of coercive policy in liberal societies relies on a solution to what I call the aggregation problem. Without a method of weighing and balancing shared reasons that is acceptable to all, no genuine consensus on the acceptability of a political principle or policy is possible. This is a serious problem for theories of liberalism that rely on public justification or public reason that has largely been ignored. I show the seriousness of this problem by using an example from contemporary politics, abortion policy. Within the context of abortion policy, I consider three approaches to the aggregation problem and argue that none of them offers a promising solution. This result, I argue, generalizes beyond abortion policy and poses a problem for the entire project of public reason liberalism. Even in an idealized society where all deliberate from a shared standpoint, it may not always be possible to find a policy all citizens regard as acceptable: not because there is a diversity of reasons, but because there is no uncontroversial method of weighing and aggregating reasons. This doesn’t mean public reason is useless, though. Instead of being a standard for justifying coercive policy, I argue public reason should be seen as a procedural tool for managing and mitigating the inescapable political conflicts that will inevitably arise in a pluralistic democratic society.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,873

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Moral Aggregation.Iwao Hirose - 2014 - New York, US: Oup Usa.
´Kevin Vallier' Trust in a Polarized Age.Chandran Kukathas - 2023 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 26 (4):601-607.
Complexity of Judgment Aggregation.Ulle Endriss, Umberto Grandi & Daniele Porello - 2012 - Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research 45:481--514.
Utilitarianism without Moral Aggregation.Johan E. Gustafsson - 2021 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (4):256-269.
Arrow's theorem in judgment aggregation.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2007 - Social Choice and Welfare 29 (1):19-33.

Analytics

Added to PP
2023-12-19

Downloads
27 (#606,202)

6 months
27 (#113,863)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Adam Gjesdal
Chapman University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references