Reference : Does self-knowledge advance political justification? The case of public philosophy an...
Scientific congresses, symposiums and conference proceedings : Unpublished conference
Arts & humanities : Philosophy & ethics
Does self-knowledge advance political justification? The case of public philosophy and Stout’s “unconstrained discourse”
Burks, Deven mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Identités, Politiques, Sociétés, Espaces (IPSE) >]
VIII Braga Meetings on Ethics and Political Philosophy
from 08-06-2017 to 09-06-2017
University of Minho
[en] Stout ; Leiter ; public philosophy ; self-knowledge ; justification ; ethics
[en] Can self-knowledge of personal attitudes and belief-formation figure as a requirement on those engaging in political justification? Would this not be asking too much of participants both at the personal and associational level and at the institutional and governmental level? Yet such a requirement seems to follow on Jeffrey Stout’s pragmatist-expressivist account of political discourse and justification as reason-giving or “unconstrained discourse” (Stout, 2004). This self-knowledge requirement comes out in his emphasis on an individual justificatory standpoint, from which the person articulates reasons and beliefs and engages in (self-)storytelling and narration in order to express openly to the audience that person’s motivations and justification for a given political position (Stout, 2010).
If his political epistemology so requires self-knowledge and “public” philosophy serves to guide political justification, the question remains by what means or resources “public” philosophy may advance the kind of self-knowledge required on the behalf of participants. To that end, Leiter (2016) may provide useful contrast as a critique of the notion of “discursive hygiene” in justification (as opposed to “rhetoric”) by elaborating the challenges posed to this notion by the obscurity of belief-formation, emotivism and tribalism. If Stout is seen to advance a view of public philosophy and political justification akin to “discursive hygiene”, Leiter’s critique poses a serious challenge to the former’s political epistemology and pragmatist-expressivist account of political justification. In short, “unconstrained discourse” would provide no meaningful standards for such justification or its participants.
Our first question then is to know whether Stout can overcome both the prima facie obstacles which this epistemological requirement sets participants and Leiter’s naturalistic challenge to “public” philosophy and political justification. Provisionally, we may respond that Stout takes important steps to circumscribe the role of “public” philosophy and political justification within other publicly available modes of acculturation and moral inculcation. Our second question lies in whether Stout and Leiter then concur on the need for “rhetoric” as an argumentative standard for political justification. In the end, we will conclude that Leiter’s “rhetoric” and Stout’s “unconstrained discourse” are closer than they might at first appear.

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