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Democracy and Moral Conflict


  • Page extent: 216 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.49 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521513548)

Why democracy? Most often this question is met with an appeal to some decidedly moral value, such as equality, liberty, dignity or even peace. But in contemporary democratic societies, there is deep disagreement and conflict about the precise nature and relative worth of these values. And when democracy votes, some of those who lose will see the prevailing outcome as not merely disappointing, but morally intolerable. How should citizens react when confronted with a democratic result that they regard as intolerable? Should they revolt, or instead pursue democratic means of social change? In this book, Robert Talisse argues that each of us has reasons to uphold democracy - even when it makes serious moral errors - and that these reasons are rooted in our most fundamental epistemic commitments. His original and compelling study will be of interest to a wide range of readers in political philosophy and political theory.

• Engages with contemporary political issues including abortion, same-sex marriage and the 'culture wars' • Examines the state of popular political discourse including commentators such as Al Franken and Ann Coulter • Written in an accessible and conversational style


Introduction; 1. The problem of deep politics; 2. Against the politics of omission; 3. Folk epistemology; 4. Justifying democracy; 5. Epistemic perfectionism; Works cited.


Review of the hardback: 'Talisse sees profound moral and religious conflict in our political life that threatens democracy, and makes impossible effective defenses by appeal to shared values. He advances an important alternative: our common commitment to sound beliefs should lead us all to endorse democratic politics. This is a fine work of public philosophy in the tradition of J. S. Mill and John Dewey.' Gerald Gaus, University of Arizona

Review of the hardback: 'Robert Talisse has provided us with a timely, original, and unapologetic defense of constitutional democracy. It is, he says, the only form of government suited to persons who are already committed in their everyday lives to giving reasons for their beliefs. Artfully blending careful philosophical analysis with contemporary illustrations and accessible prose, Democracy and Moral Conflict makes an authentically democratic and powerfully reasoned case for democracy.' John C. P. Goldberg, Harvard University

Review of the hardback: 'Robert Talisse argues that democracy comes closer than any other political system to instantiating the norms of the folk epistemology which all citizens share. Insofar as we care about the truth, we have a reason to remain committed to democracy, even when the stakes are highest. An engaging read, this book makes an important contribution to the growing discussion of democracy's epistemic virtues.' David A. Reidy, University of Tennessee

'Talisse's brief book is a minor masterpiece of concise argumentation in which he advances a genuinely novel defense of democracy.' Terrence Ball, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

'Democracy and Moral Conflict is a highly accessible work, written in a wonderfully lucid manner with lively examples drawn from contemporary American politics.' Ethics

'Robert B. Talisse's book, Democracy and Moral Conflict, remains one of the most important attempts to solve the problem of democratic legitimacy in the context of the pluralism that characterizes modern society.' Logos & Episteme

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