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Defending Deweyan Democracy from “Peircean” Pragmatism

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Robert Talisse has sought to supplant Deweyan approaches to democracy with a narrowly epistemic form of perfectionism inspired by Charles Sanders Peirce. Recently, Talisse has offered a new foundation for his view—a “folk epistemology” he claims everyone implicitly accepts, thereby accommodating what John Rawls terms “the fact of reasonable pluralism” while sidestepping debates about fundamental values. Deweyan democracy, by contrast, rests on an ideal of “growth” and therefore, argues Talisse, constitutes a reasonably rejectable form of moral perfectionism which doesn’t respect reasonable pluralism. This paper defends Deweyan democracy against Talisse’s critique. Deweyan democracy, I hope to show, not only accommodates but thrives under conditions of pluralism. Further, I argue that Talisse’s folk epistemology is too demanding and thus is itself reasonably rejectable. Finally, I demonstrate that, unlike Deweyan democracy, Peircean epistemology offers too thin a glue to unite us behind the task of achieving a thriving democracy.

Author(s):

Wesley Dempster    
Bowling Green State University
United States

 

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