Thursday, November 8, 2012

Words of wisdom from Grant McDermott

This is in an exchange on the demographics of Gary Johnson supporters.

Our first instinct, as Western liberals, is to bristle at the notion that this is wisdom. Color-blindness, etc. etc.

But then we remember our Habermas, our Rorty, and our Rawls. We remember that liberal politics is pluralist politics, that we are in dialogue and constructing arrangements among very different sorts of people who see the world in very different ways from each other. Deliberation is our path, not deduction.

In such an environment, I find it very reassuring that people very different from me seem to agree with me on a lot of things. That's not always true, of course. It's never always true. And there ought to be special introspection on the things where the only people who agree with you seem to be a lot like you.

If you look around and all the people nodding their heads when you talk remind you of you, something might be wrong.


  1. "Deliberation is our path, not deduction."

    Rawls was not a pure proceduralist. He believed he articulated the correct (or the "most reasonable" or "best" or whatever) theory of justice, justice as fairness, but came to recognize that the burdens of judgment and freedom of thought will lead people to embrace different but reasonable conceptions of justice (a tension in ATJ that he spent almost the rest of his life trying to work out). There's also a cosmopolitan tension in what you are praising (people do not remind you of yourself) and your approach to morality, both political and general (institutionalist, associative).

    1. I'm not qualified all that extensively on Rawls of course. I imagine the extent to which one feels this as a tension depends on how they think about "best". You could easily think of "best" as coming from a logical case that convinces a lot of people and seems in practice to produce good results. But use, if you have a more foundationalist sense of "best" that could introduce a lot of tension.

      I'll have to think about the cosmopolitan tension you mention. I'm not sure I understand that.

  2. Why the hell do I care what you three young white guys think about my views?

    1. I would have thought our youth and hair would put you in diverse company.

      Not enough? :)


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