Précis of democracy after liberalism

Abstract

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.

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Robert B. Talisse
Vanderbilt University

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