Democracy after Liberalism: Pragmatism and Deliberative Politics

Democracy after Liberalism: Pragmatism and Deliberative Politics

Democracy after Liberalism: Pragmatism and Deliberative Politics

Democracy after Liberalism: Pragmatism and Deliberative Politics

Synopsis

In this book, Talisse critically evaluates liberalism, the dominant attempt in the tradition of political philosophy to provide a philosophical foundation for democracy. Combining recent work on deliberative democracy with C.S. Peirce's pragmatism, Talisse argues that there is a need for a 'post-liberal' account of democracy. Although the resulting view is not liberal, it eschews the problems confronting communitarianism by insisting that the formative role of the state is epistemological rather than moral.

Excerpt

It is not uncommon today to hear liberalism identified with the political commitments characteristic of the Democratic party in the United States. The liberal, in this sense of the term, is one who favors social principles that emphasize the need for federal intervention to establish and maintain a just distribution of wealth, healthcare, education, and other social goods. The liberal is opposed to the conservative, who is in turn often associated with the political programs characteristic of the Republican party in the United States. Conservatism is marked by a trust in the principles of free-market economics-competition among providers of goods, individual initiative, nonintervention at the federal level, and decentralization-as sufficient means to social justice.

The conservative thus sees the liberal political program as excessive. According to the conservative, the governmental agencies and institutional apparatus necessary to secure the envisioned distribution of social goods pose a threat to freedom. Hence, Robert Nozick, an extreme conservative, has argued that the scheme of taxation necessary to fund liberal social programs is “on a par with forced labor” (1974, 169), as it “seize[s] some of a man's leisure (forced labor) for the purposes of serving the needy” (1974, 170). Nozick argues that mandatory taxation is intrusive, an unjust interference with individual liberty.

Liberals, by contrast, argue that individual liberty can be secured only under certain social conditions. For any reasonable set of individual liberties,

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