This paper revisits a well-known rebuttal of Peter van Inwagen’s consequence argument. This CS-rebuttal, as I shall call it, focuses on the counterfactual structure of alternative possibilities. It shows that the ability to do otherwise is such that if the agent had exercised it, the distant past and/or the laws of nature would have been different. On the counterfactual scenario, there is, therefore, no need for the agent to exercise an ability to change the past or the laws of nature. (...) I first present van Inwagen’s original version of the consequence argument. After exposing some difficulties with Lewis’ famous version of the CS-rebuttal, I proceed by explaining and defending an older and, in my view, superior version. I subsequently discuss a traditional incompatibilist rejoinder, which insists that the past and the laws of nature are fixed. Although this rejoinder delivers a valid argument against the existence of alternative possibilities, it relies on premises the compatibilist explicitly rejects. The outcome of the debate is therefore properly characterized as a genuine dialectical stalemate between compatibilists and incompatibilists. In the final sections of the paper, I demonstrate that attempts by Fischer, Holliday and Fischer and Pendergraft to move beyond the stalemate in favor of the incompatibilist position all fail. I thereby show that the debate is marred by a misunderstanding of the semantics underlying the backtracking conditionals sometimes associated with the compatibilist position. In view of my arguments, the dialectical stalemate between compatibilists and incompatibilists regarding the counterfactual structure of the ability to do otherwise remains fully intact. (shrink)
In this chapter we deal with the challenge to the existence of free will and moral responsibility that is raised by the threat of determinism from a Wittgensteinian perspective. Our argument starts by briefly recapitulating Wittgenstein’s analysis of the practice of doubt in On Certainty. We subsequently turn to the problem of free will. We argue that the existence of free will is a basic certainty and that the thesis of determinism fails to cast doubt on it. We thereby make (...) use of – but also try to go beyond – Wittgenstein’s own remarks in his “Lectures on Freedom of the Will”. In the final section we focus more explicitly on moral responsibility. Inspired by P.F. Strawson’s work on free will and moral responsibility, which we take to be deeply Wittgensteinian, we argue that our practices of holding each other responsible manifest basic human certainties which cannot be meaningfully challenged by invoking the thesis of determinism. (shrink)
The inference from determinism to predictability, though intuitively plausible, needs to be qualified in an important respect. We need to distinguish between two different kinds of predictability. On the one hand, determinism implies external predictability , that is, the possibility for an external observer, not part of the universe, to predict, in principle, all future states of the universe. Yet, on the other hand, embedded predictability as the possibility for an embedded subsystem in the universe to make such predictions, does (...) not obtain in a deterministic universe. By revitalizing an older result—the paradox of predictability —we demonstrate that, even in a deterministic universe, there are fundamental, non-epistemic limitations on the ability of one subsystem embedded in the universe to predict the future behaviour of other subsystems embedded in the same universe. As an explanation, we put forward the hypothesis that these limitations arise because the predictions themselves are physical events which are part of the law-like causal chain of events in the deterministic universe. While the limitations on embedded predictability cannot in any direct way show evidence of free human agency, we conjecture that, even in a deterministic universe, human agents have a take-it-or-leave-it control over revealed predictions of their future behaviour. (shrink)
In this article I confront Jürgen Habermas' deliberative model of democracy with Claude Lefort's analysis of democracy as a regime in which the locus of power remains an empty place. This confrontation reveals several structural similarities between the two authors and explains how the proceduralization of popular sovereignty provides a discourse-theoretical interpretation of the empty place of power. At the same time, Lefort's insistence on the open-ended nature of the democratic struggle also points towards an unresolved tension at the core (...) of Habermas' model between the cognitive nature of deliberation on the one hand and the freedom of moral and political agents on the other. A proper solution of this tension requires a full appreciation of the ineliminable gap between actual and ideal deliberation. Because actual deliberation can never result in an ideal consensus, the actual exercise of democratic power should be understood as an unavoidable interruption of deliberation. Key Words: consensus deliberation democracy empty place of power Jürgen Habermas Claude Lefort. (shrink)
An analysis of the epistemological structure of democratic deliberation as a procedure in which legal norms are constructed reveals that deliberation combines procedural and substantive aspects in a unique and inextricable manner. The co-original recognition of the private and public autonomy of all citizens provides the substantive critical standard against which the justice of norms is measured. At the same time, such recognition requires that the particular needs and values of all people concerned be taken into account. Given the privileged (...) epistemic access people have to their own particular perspective, this requirement implies the ineliminability of actual deliberative procedures. The open-ended nature of these constructive procedures is partly due to the fact that the rules of the procedure are counterfactual and themselves subject to interpretation. More importantly, it also reflects the historical nature of our human world and the freedom of moral persons to shape and reshape their preferences. (shrink)
This paper critically compares a deliberative system based on parliamentary elections (an electoral system) and a deliberative system based on sortition (a lottocratic system). Both systems are analyzed in three dimensions. The epistemic dimension concerns the rational quality of the democratic process. The power dimension concerns the distribution of power and the extent to which citizens genuinely control all decisions. The motivational dimension, finally, concerns citizens’ identification with the decision-making process and their willingness to abide by its outcomes. We argue (...) that an electoral system is, in all three dimensions, normatively superior to a sortition-based system. Most prominently, we claim that electoral mechanisms provide visibility to the decision-making process. This enables a form of interactive representation in which citizens and their representatives engage in a joint process of opinion and will formation. Sortition, in contrast, is characterized by a democratically much poorer form of descriptive representation. The selected citizens are a representative sample of the wider citizenry, but they deliberate in a forum that remains mostly disconnected from that wider citizenry and therefore cannot shoulder the process of collective self-government. (shrink)
Populisme. Sinds extreem rechts recent een bepaald soort salonfähigkeit heeft weten te verwerven in het democratische bestel wordt de term door zelfverklaarde democraten te pas en te onpas gehanteerd om bijvoorkeur ‘rechtse’, maar bij uitbreiding ook alle andere tegenstanders te desavoueren die uit zijn op al te gemakkelijk politiek succes. Vanuit dat perspectief veroorzaakt de term ‘populisme’ geen enkel probleem: het is een dankbare politieke diskwalificatie die iedereen graag gebruikt, maar die niemand graag krijgt toebedeeld.
In juni 2011 lanceerde een aantal Belgische prominenten en academici, onder aanvoering van auteur David Van Reybrouck, het G1000-project . Dit initiatief heeft tot doel om in november 2011 duizend willekeurig gekozen Belgische burgers van beide kanten van de taalgrens bijeen te brengen in Brussel om een hele dag samen te discussiëren over de toekomst van België. Vervolgens zal een kleinere groep van geselecteerde burgers meer concreet uitwerken hoe de prioriteiten die uit deze discussie of 'deliberatie' naar voor komen het (...) best gerealiseerd kunnen worden. Onder het motto 'als de politici er niet uitgeraken, laat de burgers dan beraadslagen' probeert het initiatief een bijdrage te leveren aan het doorbreken van de huidige impasse in de Belgische politiek, waarbij de verkozen politici er nu al meer dan een jaar lang niet in slagen om een regering te vormen of om een akkoord te sluiten over een nieuwe fase in de staatshervorming. (shrink)
This paper argues that Neil Walker’s analysis of the complementary relationship between democracy and constitutionalism remains one-sided. It focuses only on the incompleteness of democracy and the democracy-realizing function of constitutionalism rather than also taking into account the reverse complementary and constitution-realizing function of democracy. In this paper, I defend a fuller account that takes into account this mutual complementarity between democracy and constitutionalism. Such an alternative approach is consequential for Walker’s argument in two respects. In terms of the general (...) analysis of the relationship between democracy and constitutionalism, my adjusted approach leads to a defence of the Habermasian thesis of the co-originality of constitutionalism and democracy which is too quickly dismissed by Walker himself. A fuller appreciation of this co-originality suggests that the relationship between constitutionalism and democracy is perhaps, after all, more singularly complementary than Walker recognizes. In terms of the more specific analysis of the impact of globalization, this adjusted approach tilts the argument in favour of the critics of current practices of postnational constitutionalism. Without complementary postnational democratic structures, this constitutionalism remains problematic and potentially oppressive. (shrink)
Chantal Mouffe herneemt de centrale gedachte van Carl Schmitt dat de antagonistische relatie tussen vriend en vijand constitutief is voor het politieke. Anders dan bij Schmitt leidt die idee bij haar tot een links en radicaal democratisch model voor een pluralistische samenleving. Een juiste appreciatie van de niet te elimineren politieke dimensie van strijd geeft aanleiding tot een kritische evaluatie van het politieke liberalisme van John Rawls en de deliberatieve democratie van Jürgen Habermas. Tegelijkertijd werpt Mouffe daarbij een nieuw licht (...) op enkele recente politieke fenomenen, zoals de opkomst van rechtse populistische partijen in Europa en de internationale ‘oorlog tegen het terrorisme’. (shrink)
The paradox of predictability refers to situations in which, even in a deterministic universe, a correct prediction of a future action is seemingly impossible because the agent whose action is predicted is determined to act counterpredictively. In a recent contribution to this journal, Victor Gijsbers provides an example of the paradox in which the undecidability of the situation plays an essential role and claims, additionally, that this undecidability is at the root of all examples of the paradox. This paper argues, (...) first, that the latter claim is not correct because there are clear examples of the paradox in which the situation remains fully decidable. The paper argues, secondly, that, because of its reliance on rather artificial conditions and in contrast with examples referring to the physical nature of the predictor, the example presented by Gijsbers, though technically correct, has little relevance for our understanding of the role of (counter-)predictability in the context of human interactions. (shrink)
This paper introduces a distinction between three different kinds of religious arguments. On the basis of a deliberative model of democracy, it is argued that autonomy and identity arguments should be acceptable in public debate, whereas authority arguments should be rejected. This deliberative approach is clarified by comparing it with the exclusionist position of John Rawls on the one hand and the inclusionist position of Nicholas Wolterstorff on the other. The paper concludes with some general remarks about the relation between (...) reason and religion that explain the sense in which a postsecular public sphere also remains a secular one. (shrink)
The debate about global distributive justice is characterized by an often stark opposition between universalistic approaches, advocating an egalitarian global redistribution of wealth (Beitz, Pogge, Barry, Tan), and particularistic positions, aiming to justify a restriction of redistribution to the domestic community (D. Miller, R. Miller, Blake, Nagel, Rawls). I argue that an approach starting from the deliberative model of democracy (Habermas) can overcome this opposition. On the one hand, the increasingly global scope of economic interactions implies that the range of (...) individuals concerned with the redistribution of wealth should also be increasingly universal. On the other hand, the need for democratic deliberation refers to the fact that demands of justice should be contextual and should take into account the particular circumstances, needs and values of the people concerned. Both concerns can be realized simultaneously only within a multi-layered democratic system in which redistribution is a concern at the domestic, the international and the global level. (shrink)
This article explores Habermas's thesis on the co-originality of the political and the individual freedom of the citizen. It is argued that individual freedom without political freedom remains arbitrary. Citizens are concrete, uniquely situated subjects. Only their actual participation in deliberative processes of democratic decision-making guarantees an adequate recognition of their particular needs and problems and an adequaterealization of their individual freedom. At the same time, political freedom without individual freedom is meaningless. Political deliberation is an answer to the problem (...) of co-ordinating the actions of citizens with divergent values and conflicting views on the good life. Therefore, political deliberation as a practice already presupposes the individual freedom of the citizen. (shrink)
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