Political Philosophy for a Democratic Society

Political Philosophy for a Democratic Society
But maybe political philosophy need not be able to provide arguments that can
actually be used in the public discussion by the participants? Maybe the loss that
will be faced if feasibility arguments become more common is not that serious?
In my view, it is important that political philosophers provide arguments that
are actually usable in public debates. I also think that the loss we will face will be
serious if feasibility arguments become too common in political philosophy. A
tempting and plausible way to understand most of the arguments provided by
political philosophy is to see them as contributions to public debate [37]. Without
any intention of contributing to the discussion of what is the task of political
philosophy, it seems quite clear to me that one of the key functions of political
philosophy is to contribute to the democratic processes by participating in the
political discussion or, more likely, by providing potential arguments that the
parties (and not merely observers) who do participate in the political discussion
can actually employ in defending their claims [38]. When the arguments are
presented by the participants, they are offered to one’s opponents and to the
public, and their function is to guide our political thinking rather than high-level
political decision-making. If the plans of political philosophers contradict the will
of the people, the philosophers do not say that, when possible, the plans should be
implemented anyway; instead, they say that people should change their minds,
since there are good reasons for doing so [39]. Adam Swift and Stuart White share
this view when they argue that
no contemporary political theorist that we know of believes that their
expertise puts them in a position legitimately to put their ex hypothesi
correct principles into practice, bypassing the democratic decision-
making process. On the contrary, their own theorizing – not now about
what decisions should be made, but about how they should be made –
tells them that there is a crucial distinction between correctness and
legitimacy. Their theories are resources, offered as contributions to a
democratic debate about how authority should be exercised, not
alternatives to it [40].
When the role of political philosophy in a democratic society is understood in
this way, it seems strange to consider the citizens’ resistance as a reason to change
one’s argument (as is done in a feasibility-oriented approach), since the argument
may have been presented specifically in order to break the resistance that seems to

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