Author Archives: Loren King

Brettschneider Reading Group: Conclusion – Value Democracy at Home and Abroad

I’ve been appallingly remiss in fulfilling my duties this time around. In an effort to make good, I’ve spent several days poring over these excellent commentaries and discussions, as well as reacquainting myself with Corey’s wonderful book, which has taught me much about my own suspicions that the liberal’s paradox really isn’t much of a paradox at all.

The liberal-democratic state (broadly conceived) can take it’s own side in an argument, and we should be clear on when, how, and against whom it may permissibly do so. I share some of Sarah’s concerns about reflective revision; and I wonder, along with Jon and Simone and others, about the distinctiveness of coercion. Still, I think Corey’s careful elaboration of democratic persuasion is a powerful and attractive way to proceed.

Thankfully (for me) my task is less demanding than that executed so well by all of you in the preceding discussions. Corey’s concluding thoughts are appropriately tentative and cursory, inviting us to consider how his approach might fare beyond U.S. shores.

I share Corey’s optimism that democratic persuasion will fare reasonably well in that regard, although I want to introduce some possible complications, several of which have been hinted at, or stated outright, in preceding comments.

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Brettschneider Reading Group, Chapter 4

According to the value theory advanced so far, democracy is best understood in terms of three core values: equality of interests, political autonomy, and reciprocity. These values ground democratic rights of citizens, most obviously rights associated with the rule of law, on the one hand, and familiar freedoms of conscience and expression on the other. These rights, and the values they express, take seriously our status as free citizens who are, in equal measure, the willing authors and subjects of the laws.

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Estlund Reading Group Chapter 12

If your account of democratic authority uses the term “epistemic” then sooner or later you’re going to have to deal with the Jury Theorem. And here is where David takes up the gauntlet.

I’ve made that seem rather dramatic, but by this point in the book the gauntlet isn’t especially heavy! After all, in preceding chapters we’ve seen a model form of deliberation, a distinction between formal and substantive epistemic value, and a careful distinction between a “test” for finding the correct answer to some shared problem (such as majority rule), and a “testing system” (such as a constitutional democracy within which majoritarian decision procedures are embedded). The Jury Theorem, as tantalizing as it may be to some democratic theorists, does not appeal to discussion and argument, relies on claims about voter competence and the substantive correctness of some choices, and it applies in the first instance to specific tests (voting and majority or plurality rule), not to a testing system per se.

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