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In Defence of Non-Ideal Political Deference

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 July 2020

Matthias Brinkmann*
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA


Many philosophers have claimed that relying on the testimony of others in normative questions is in some way problematic. In this paper, I consider whether we should be troubled by deference in democratic politics. I argue that (i) deference is less problematic in impure cases of political deference, and (ii) most non-ideal cases of political deference are impure. To establish the second point, I rely on empirical research from political psychology. I also outline two principled reasons why we should expect political deference to be untroubling: political problems are difficult and require a division of epistemic labour; furthermore, there is value in exercising epistemic solidarity with those one shares an identity or interests with.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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