Deweyan Democracy, Robert Talisse, and the Fact of Reasonable Pluralism: A Rawlsian Response

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Over the last decade, Robert Talisse has developed a devastating argument against reviving John Dewey’s democratic ideal. In his book, A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy, and in other essays, Talisse has argued that Deweyan democracy fails to accommodate Rawls’ conception of “the fact of reasonable pluralism” because it is committed to a perfectionist conception of the good. In response, this article offers a Rawlsian rebuttal to Talisse by drawing on Rawls’ own characterisation of perfectionism to show that Dewey’s conception of the good is not perfectionist on Rawls’ account and thus can reasonably accommodate the fact of reasonable pluralism. is article thus begins by exposing and explaining Talisse’s argument, before articulating Shane Ralston’s rejection of the Berlinian and Rawlsian fillters presupposed by Talisse’s argument. Then, it develops its central argument by showing that, even if we accept the Rawlsian filter, Deweyan democracy does not fail to accommodate the fact of reasonable pluralism, because it only relies on a thin (not a full) theory of the good, before considering some foreseeable Talissean objections. Ultimately, the article concludes by showing that these objections fail because Deweyan democracy does not rely on a ‘full’ theory of the good.
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Archival date: 2021-11-24
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