Beyond Utopophobia

The newest issue of The Good Society has been released, with a symposium my friend Steven Maloney and I put together on epistemic proceduralism. It features contributions by James Bohman, Corey Brettschneider, Noëlle McAfee, and Robert Talisse and Michael Harbour.  The ‘utopophobia’ in the title comes from David Estlund’s book Democratic Authority, which invokes epistemic grounds in defense of democratic legitimacy: because democratic procedures get things right more often then competing regimes, the decisions they make are legitimate. This puts Estlund in the company of contemporary epistemic liberals like Cheryl Misak and Robert Talisse.  Contrary to Rawlsian liberalism’s distaste for substantive epistemic and normative questions, the epistemic liberals suggest that we ought not to fear public deliberation and contestation about first principles, end-states, and matters of fundamental concern.

Steve and I also contributed a paper, “Foresight, Epistemic Reliability, and the Systematic Underestimation of Risk,” in which we struggle with democracy’s capacity to foresee ‘regime-busting’ cataclysms like war, famine, natural disasters, or economic shocks and either prevent them or prepare for them adequately. As the title suggests, we believe that democratic polities systematically underestimate such risks, at their own peril.

Check it out!

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