Understanding liberal democracy essays in political philosophy

About the author Understanding Liberal Democracy presents notable work by Nicholas Wolterstorff at the intersection between political philosophy and religion. Alongside his influential earlier essays, it includes nine new essays in which Wolterstorff develops original lines of argument and stakes out novel positions regarding the nature of liberal democracy, human rights, and political authority.

Understanding liberal democracy essays in political philosophy

Mises Review 18, No. Most contemporary political philosophers, unfortunately, are not libertarians. Nicholas Wolterstorff, best known as a founder of "reformed epistemology" but a philosopher of extraordinary range, is no libertarian either — far from it.

In the present collection of essays, though, he assails a vastly influential school of thought in a way that libertarians will find useful. Ever since John Rawls published Political Liberalism inpolitical philosophers have focused on "public reason.

In contemporary democracies, people disagree radically about what should be done politically. They operate from different philosophies, from what Rawls calls "comprehensive doctrines"; they have different "conceptions of the good.

Some people think the state should mold people's characters to promote virtue; others say this is none of the state's business. Faced with conflicts like this, what should be done? One alternative is that the supporters of a particular comprehensive doctrine should attempt to secure a majority for its views.

Once they do that, they can ram through their program, regardless of the objections that come from those with other comprehensive doctrines. If you can convince most people that abortion is wrong, then you are free to pass laws that ban it.

Understanding liberal democracy essays in political philosophy

Rawls and other supporters of public reason like Robert Audi disagree. They say that to act in the way just described is coercive and fails to show respect for those who hold different conceptions of the good. Most if not all exclusivists [advocates of public reason] … say something to the effect that respect for one's fellow citizens as free and equal requires that, before supporting a piece of proposed legislation, one offer or make available, to those one believes do not already have them, reasons for the legislation that they will or would regard as good ones … [an] alternative focuses on coercion.

It is the coerciveness of legislation that makes reasons of the sort indicated required. A condition of a citizen's properly supporting a piece of coercive legislation is … [that] one must offer or make available, to those one believes do not already have them, reasons that they do or would regard as justifying the coercive legislation.

Instead, you should confine yourself to arguments that others can accept as reasons. For example, if you oppose easy divorce because you think this practice contravenes what the Bible teaches about marriage, you should not rely on this view in debates about public legislation.

Understanding Liberal Democracy: Essays in Political Philosophy | Oxford University Press

People who reject belief in God will not regard the Bible's claims as a reason for action at all. If you appeal exclusively to the Bible, you will be manifesting lack of respect for them and endeavoring to coerce them.

As already suggested, religious views have no place in public reason, though they are not the only sort of excluded views. This cannot sit well with Wolterstorff, who is a devout Christian and thinks that his religion is very much relevant to politics.

He accordingly launches a counterattack: His powerful arguments should interest libertarians because they weaken the appeal of one of libertarianism's main rivals in political philosophy.

Wolterstorff notes that defenders of public reason do not in fact show respect for everyone's comprehensive doctrine.Of interest to philosophers, political theorists, and theologians, the book should engage a wide audience of those interested in how best to understand the nature of liberal democracy and its relation to religion.

Understanding Liberal Democracy presents notable work by Nicholas Wolterstorff at the intersection between political philosophy and religion. Alongside his influential earlier essays, it includes nine new essays in which Wolterstorff develops original lines of argument and stakes out novel positions regarding the nature of liberal democracy, human rights, and political tranceformingnlp.com: Nicholas Wolterstorff.

Understanding Liberal Democracy presents notable work by Nicholas Wolterstorff at the intersection between political philosophy and religion.

Alongside his influential earlier essays, it includes nine new essays in which Wolterstorff develops original lines of argument and stakes out novel positions regarding the nature of liberal democracy, human rights, and political authority. This book collects Nicholas Wolterstorff's papers in political philosophy.

While this collection includes some of Wolterstorff's earlier and influential work on the intersection between liberal democracy and religion, it also contains nine new essays in which Wolterstorff stakes out novel positions regarding the nature of liberal democracy, .

Nicholas Wolterstorff argues that public reason liberalism is a dead end, and defends instead what he takes to be a more defensible form of liberalism ("equal political voice liberalism").

His book is fresh and compelling, and an important contribution to political philosophy. This is a collection of mostly new essays: nine appear for the first time. understanding liberal democracy: essays in political philosophy By Nicholas Wolterstorff • Edited by Terence Cuneo Oxford University Press, , xii+ pgs.

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