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Fr. 393

September 16, 2013

While we have thus seen the possible general applications of this divide to democracy and society, it has not yet been specified in which way this structure could enlighten another divide: that between Rawls and Stout. Insofar as both Rawls and Stout are committed democrats, it should be maintained that both subscribe to the idea of a democratic science espousing a certain number of core, practical properties and principles. In other words, both thinkers maintain the existence of a properly democratic praxis, and, thus, its existence is not at the heart of their dispute.

Indeed, their dispute arises from conflicting interpretations of democratic ideologies in that they promote diametrically opposed understandings of the role of ideology. As concerns the case of Rawls, its major difficulty could be said to lie in the ambiguity on his account between science and ideology. If one assimilates Rawls’ comprehensive doctrines, i.e. the various visions of the good promoted by different individuals, groups and communities within society, to democratic ideologies, it would follow that Rawls’ account of the common basis, public reason and justice as fairness positions itself as democratic science rather than an ideology. In short, Rawlsianism would be seen as that body of knowledges and procedures about which various instantiations would come into place as a complementary effect. More simply, whereas everyone of good faith would ascribe to Rawlsianism and place their belief in this science, the particular views that individuals, groups and communities promote would be subject to their own visions of the good and traditions.

It is precisely this science-ideology ambiguity that has made many wary of Rawlsianism, for, in the vocabulary of this exercise, although Rawls advances his account as democratic science, it is in its turn one of many democratic ideologies. Its core properties are not those candidate properties of a democratic science but instead their instantiation and implementation in a particular democratic ideology.

As for Stout, his account can be seen as an attempt to further the instantiations of democratic science in expanding the role and function of ideology or ideologue to every individual participating in democratic discussion. In other words, it is no longer just a society or groups within it who work on fleshing out the content of democratic science. Rather, this task would fall to the individuals themselves making up that society. It is for this reason that Stout’s account could be considered as a translation of ideological theorizing from the macro-level to that of the micro in the aim of diffusing the role of ideologue as widely as possible. This would result in a new depth and breadth of the formation of local ideologies that are brought to bear on democratic science itself.

In the end, Rawls and Stout can be seen as at opposite ends of one and the same divide insofar as Rawls attempts to promote one ideology to the rank of democratic science while Stout attempts to multiply further the number and development of ideologies in society. Nevertheless, whatever their particular differences, they can be seen as being in agreement on the following base principle: to be a democrat is to move forward in view of the core properties of democratic science all the while allowing oneself room to maneuver in that science’s instantiations in different locales.

 

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