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Fr. 607

March 26, 2015

Certain may worry from the preceding presentation of the centrality of individual and identity to Stout’s project that this same project might get bogged down in precisely the sort of navel-gazing identity politics. Given the importance of concrete identity formation to understanding justification, this worry is to be understood as a natural outgrowth of the tendency toward the particular. Yet this tendency should not be construed as a generalized policy to be pursued at the expense of all other concerns. If Stout advocates for more attention to historical detail and sociological analysis, this is not in itself a call to arms for the sort of overly sensitive introspection and calling out to which “bad” identity politics is given. Instead, we should read Stout as agitating for a greater sensibility to the relevance of identity to political discussion, that is, a “good” identity politics in which the attention lent to the individual’s identity is proportional to the relevance of that identity’s apprehension to the overcoming of the disagreement in question. Rather than pursue a radical identity politics, this extension of Stout’s views may more reasonably be seen as a pragmatic approach to identity in function of the notion’s utility to a given set of circumstances.

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