Epistemic Democracy and the Truth Connection

Public Reason (forthcoming)
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Abstract
If political decision-making aims at getting a particular result, like identifying just laws or policies that truly promote the common good, then political institutions can also be evaluated in terms of how often they achieve these results. Epistemic defenses of democracy argue that democracies have the upper hand when it comes to truth, identifying the laws and policies that are truly just or conducive to the common good. A number of epistemic democrats claim that democracies have this beneficial connection to truth because of the type of deliberative environment created by democratic political institutions. Democratic political cultures make it easier to exchange and give reasons, ultimately improving the justification that citizens have for their political beliefs. With this improved justification comes a better chance at truth, or so the story goes. In this paper, I show that attempts to forge a connection between justification and truth in epistemology have encountered numerous difficulties, making the case that this causes trouble for deliberative epistemic defenses of democracy as well. If there is no well-defined connection between truth and justification, then increasing the justification that citizens have for their beliefs may not also increase the likelihood that those beliefs are true, revealing a serious flaw in charting a connection between political justification and political truth.
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Archival date: 2021-08-28
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