Rescuing the Gorgias from Latour

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 36 (4):395-422 (2006)
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Abstract

Bruno Latour has been attempting to transform his sociological account of science into an ambitious theory of democracy. In a key early moment in this project, Latour alleges that Plato’s Gorgias introduces an impossibly ratio-nalistic and deeply anti-democratic philosophy which continues to this day to distort our understandings of science and democracy. Latour reckons that if he can successfully refute the Gorgias , then he will have opened up a space in which to authorize his own theory of democracy. I argue that Latour’s refutation of the Gorgias is a failure. Hence, his political theory is, by his own standards, horribly underdetermined. I present another reading of the Gorgias , and consider the dialogue’s possible relevance for current theories of deliberative democracy. Key Words: Latour • Gorgias • Socrates • rhetoric • elenchus • deliberative democracy.

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Jeff Kochan
Universität Konstanz

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