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Fr. 1012

June 3, 2020

Recent new stories warn of the coming era of what might be termed “deepfake democracy”. Independently of such stories, it is important to think of what new advances in synthetic media may presage for democratic justification, i.e. the epistemic ideal regulating the relation between political equals. At the very least, it seems that one may speak of a worsening of the epistemic environment – in relative terms, if not absolutely – as the person’s apprehension of her social world must negotiate increasingly unreliable informational resources. Perhaps what is needed is not so much institutions for justificatory democracy but instead for anti-deepfake democracy.


June 2, 2020

could those be cherry trees you asked
do they bear fruit year in year out
or would they pull back from the axe
like them, you must begin again

Fr. 1011

June 1, 2020

Why is the basic justification demand normative? At its simplest, it seems important to human beings that the major institutions of political society are not merely the product of historical accident, mass delusion or mistaken belief. In other words, they must amount to more than mere ideology if we are to show that there is a good reason for their current or future shape.

Fr. 1010

May 29, 2020

If Jeremy Waldron is right that Rawls towers over political philosophy, but the same cannot be said in democratic theory, it is worth asking why that is the case and whether Rawls’s full weight can be brought to bear in the latter. Just what is meant by democratic theory?

Democratic theory is an established subfield of political theory that is primarily concerned with examining the definition and meaning of the concept of democracy, as well as the moral foundations, obligations, challenges, and overall desirability of democratic governance.

By these lights, Rawls falls short of distinct contributions to democratic theory: he pursues no conceptual analysis of democracy and takes democratic institutions as the point of departure for political liberalism rather than the destination thereof. Still, there may be a way of showing how the justificatory strategy from political liberalism may move us towards justificatory democracy, i.e. institutions designed to promote justification between political equals.


May 28, 2020

He tracks the molds throughout the home. His labors carry him circling the full length of surrounding walls. In time, he lowers himself to the floor to pursue their designs on the undersides of furniture. When he happens upon a dark-hued stretch, he scrapes at the subdued landscape.

Fr. 1009

May 27, 2020

If human beings are fundamentally disagreeing creatures, then it may be desirable to account for that disagreement by seeking institutional forms which allow for the widest range of disagreement and its manifestation in cultural and ethical life. This, it seems to me, is the most compelling way of glossing common liberal arguments for democracy, such as those seen in the work of Rawls and Gaus.

Fr. 1008

May 26, 2020

I have found that one way of better wrapping my head around Rawls’s justificatory points of view is to understand them by analogy to characterization in literature. The representative party may be likened to a flat, two-dimensional character in a plot-driven story. We, along with the author, can determine just what the character needs to do as all her relevant traits have been defined. From the defined conditions, it is possible to work deductively to determine what she will do or retrospectively to determine why she did so.  In contrast, the citizen in a well-ordered society is more similar to a full, three-dimensional character from character-driven stories. Certainly, we may form hypotheses about such characters because we understand them, but they may also act in surprising ways. When they determine their own path in unexpected ways, we must simply accede to the organic interactions of various elements within the more complex psychology, over and beyond what the author has explicitly attributed to them.