A pragmatist philosophy of democracy (review)

Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (4):pp. 631-633 (2009)
Philip Olson
Virginia Tech
In this, his second book, Robert Talisse “attempts to make explicit the pragmatist roots and motivations of the concept of democracy” developed in his 2005 book, Democracy after Liberalism: Pragmatism and Deliberative Politics . Inspired by the work of the classical American pragmatist, Charles Sanders Peirce, Talisse defends a substantive, epistemic conception of democracy, which he calls “epistemic perfectionism.” Pragmatists, political philosophers, and social epistemologists alike will discover in this book a provocative synthesis of their respective inquiries, which Talisse wields in the service of democratic theory.According to Talisse, it is unfortunate that John Dewey’s philosophy has dominated pragmatist discussions of democracy, for Dewey’s theory is “fundamentally misguided and ultimately incoherent when taken as a social ideal for contemporary democratic societies” . Talisse objects to Dewey’s democratic theory because it is premised upon a “comprehensive moral doctrine” that reasonable persons may reject. But he also objects to Deweyan democratic practice, which aims “to coerce people” to live according to the Deweyan democrat’s reasonably rejectable “philosophical commitments” . Talisse argues that a Peircean conception of democracy is superior because it countenances “the fact of reasonable pluralism,” by which Talisse means, “the full and proper exercise of human reason, even
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DOI 10.1353/hph.0.0160
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