Category Archives: Podcast

PPPS: On Gutmann and Thompson’s Arguments that Deliberative Democrats Shouldn’t be Pure Proceduralists

This paper concerns the prospects of pure proceduralist deliberative democratic theories. Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson give what seems to be the most prominent set of arguments against such pure proceduralisms in their “Deliberative Democracy Beyond Process”.* Briefly put, they argue that deliberative democrats must not be pure proceduralists because pure proceduralisms cannot seriously endorse a principle that all deliberative democrats aim to seriously endorse: the principle of reciprocity. I argue that their arguments are unsuccessful. If my arguments work they also have the positive value of indicating where debates over the prospects of pure proceduralist deliberative democratic theory should head.


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PPPS: Freedom: Morality and Folk Intuitions

Broadly, this paper is concerned with the folk concept of freedom. In the paper, I consider non-philosophical intuitions about freedom by examining what ordinary people think about several interesting cases in which an agent’s freedom is restricted. I also compare the role which value is given in the folk theory to two other well known theories of freedom, one promoted by T.H. Green and the other by Isaiah Berlin. The result is not only philosophically interesting, but informative about how ordinary philosophical conceptions function.

I was originally led to write this paper by a combined interest in the concept of freedom and the influence of morality on intuitions.


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Spring 2009 Political Philosophy Podcast Symposium

We’ll be starting this semester’s podcast symposium this Friday. We have five papers this semester. The first paper is available for download for people who are interested in reading it prior to this Friday’s presentation:

“Positive and negative theories of liberty hold drastically different accounts of the role for value judgments in regard to freedom. This paper discusses the implications of one special type: moral judgments, and considers how moral judgments may affect ordinary intuitions about freedom in particular. This ‘ordinary’ concept of freedom contrasts both positive and negative theories of liberty and has some interesting implications of its own.”

The remaining papers are:

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PPPS: “Making Space for Rosa Parks: Democratic Authorship as Political Autonomy”

Hi.  I’m Paul Gowder, a Ph.D. candidate in Stanford’s Political Science department.  This paper arose out of another paper that I have in progress.  The other paper, a critique of Rawls’s idea of public reason and an attempt to develop a broadly proceduralist alternative that can meet the stability and justification concerns driving the original idea without constraining democratic debate, was foundering on the rocks of my inability to articulate a normative principle to ground the fundamental objection to that kind of constraint.  This paper is my first, preliminary, attempt to make some sense of the intuition behind that objection — the idea of the value of citizen moral advocacy, qua citizen moral advocacy, in a democracy.


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PPPS: “Unhappy Families: Three Ways of Thinking About Imperfect Political Regimes”

I got the idea for this paper while teaching a course on dictatorships and revolutions. The course had little political philosophy content (by design), but we did talk about whether democratic regimes are always to be preferred to non-democratic regimes, and I had a section on “transitional justice” at the end of the trimester. Teaching the course  crystallized a certain dissatisfaction with the emphasis of much recent political theory on questions about the justification of constitutional democracy. The problem was not that I had any objections to the justification of constitutional democracy, but that such discussions seemed to be of little help in evaluating the many kinds of political regimes that actually exist in the world today, and which can be imperfect in a bewildering variety of ways. As a native of Venezuela, I also wondered whether the emphasis of recent political theory on democracy obscured more than it illuminated the ways in which political regimes promote or fail to promote certain values and interests.


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PPPS: “Toward a Pragmatic Moral Theory of State Sovereignty”

This paper was motivated by a dissatisfaction with the move to justify armed humanitarian intervention to deal with widespread and systematic human rights violations. I’m skeptical of arguments that defend a right or duty of armed intervention for a few reasons, but prominent among these is their failure to engage adequately with the empirical literature to determine whether armed intervention is an effective means to bringing about long-term progress on human rights performance. Some recent studies suggest that it’s not.

Although this paper was motivated by this worry, I don’t actually talk about humanitarian intervention here. Rather, I simply assume that we should look for alternatives to addressing human rights atrocities and proceed to consider how we might go about reforming the institution of sovereignty to deal with this problem. I don’t actually articulate any positive reform proposals here; I’m not in a position to do that yet. So this paper begins to lay the groundwork for a positive proposal.


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