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Title: Pragmatism, critical theory and democratic inclusion
Authors: Calder, Gideon
Keywords: RortyFraserWalzerdemocracyinclusion
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Gideon Calder, "Pragmatism, critical theory and democratic inclusion", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, XII (2010) 1, pp. 52−67.
Series/Report no.: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
XII (2010) 1
This article explores ideas from Richard Rorty and Nancy Fraser on the justification of
democracy. It considers both as exemplary of what, following Michael Walzer, we can call
philosophizing “in the city” – eschewing any aim to adopt a generalised, metaphysical
perspective on questions of social justice, and seeking instead to locate these, in their
conception and elaboration, in the thick of lived social practice. For such approaches, as for
other treatments of democracy, issues around inclusion will be key: whose voices should
count in the democratic conversation, and how? I address Rorty’s claim that democracy is
“prior” to philosophy, rather than requiring philosophical backup, and Fraser’s notion of
“participatory parity”. Endorsing Kevin Olson’s diagnosis in the latter of a “paradox of
enablement”, I consider the inclusion of the disabled as a way of addressing how this
paradox might work in practice. I conclude in section 4 by suggesting that escaping the
paradox seems to require venturing to a vantage point further from the city than either
Rorty or Fraser would prefer. I suggest that a capabilities-based approach would be one
way of doing this – but that this, indeed, involves deeper “traditional”-style philosophical
commitments than pragmatists will be happy to support.
Type: Article
ISSN: 1825-5167
Appears in Collections:Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2010) XII/1

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