A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy
Routledge – 2007 – 166 pages
In recent years there has been a renewed interest in American pragmatism. In political philosophy, the revival of pragmatism has led to a new appreciation for the democratic theory of John Dewey.
In this book, Robert B. Talisse advances a series of pragmatic arguments against Deweyan democracy. Particularly, Talisse argues that Deweyan democracy cannot adequately recognize pluralism, the fact that intelligent, sincere, and well-intentioned persons can disagree sharply and reasonably over moral ideals. Drawing upon the epistemology of the founder of pragmatism, Charles S. Peirce, Talisse develops a conception of democracy that is anti-Deweyan but nonetheless pragmatist. Talisse then brings the Peircean view into critical conversation with contemporary developments in democratic theory, including deliberative democracy, Rawlsian political liberalism, and Richard Posner’s democratic realism. The result is a new pragmatist option in democratic theory.
"With clarity and force, Talisse's immensely readable book briskly acquaints readers with the complex theories necessary to grappling with issues worth caring about. While meticulously attentive to pertinent scholarship, Talisse is never pedantic or jargonistic. He educates the reader by reiterating exactly the premises necessary to move his theses ahead. By the end, the reader feels a real stake in the questions and answers posed; I cannot recommend PPD highly enough."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"Talisse’s book is a smart contribution to several different discussions in political theory, and is well worth a serious read."-- Political Theory
1. Pragmatism’s Ambiguous Legacy 2. Can Democracy be a Way of Life? 3. Peirce, Inquiry, and Politics 4. Pluralism and the Peircean View 5. Posner’s Pragmatic Realism 6. The Case of Sidney Hook 7. Epilogue: The Eclipse Narrative Revisited
Robert B. Talisse is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University, USA., and is also author of Democracy After Liberalism.