Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-2pzkn Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-17T10:21:35.569Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Pure Epistemic Proceduralism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 January 2012


In this paper I defend a pure proceduralist conception of legitimacy that applies to epistemic democracy. This conception, which I call pure epistemic proceduralism, does not depend on procedure-independent standards for good outcomes and relies on a proceduralist epistemology. It identifies a democratic decision as legitimate if it is the outcome of a process that satisfies certain conditions of political and epistemic fairness. My argument starts with a rejection of instrumentalism–the view that political equality is only instrumentally valuable. I reject instrumentalism on two grounds: (i) because it fails to respect reasonable value pluralism and to recognize the constitutive role of democratic procedures for legitimacy in pluralist societies, and (ii) because it neglects the constructive function of democratic decision-making. I then consider two alternatives to pure epistemic proceduralism: David Estlund's version of epistemic proceduralism and a Deweyan account of epistemic democracy. I argue that only pure epistemic proceduralism can make good on both shortcomings of instrumentalism, whereas each of the other two approaches only makes good on one and neglects the other.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Anderson, Elizabeth. 2006. “The Epistemology of Democracy.” Episteme, A Journal of Social Epistemology 3(1–2): 923.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Arneson, Richard. 2003. “Debate: Defending the Purely Instrumental Account of Democratic Legitimacy.” Journal of Political Philosophy 11(1): 122–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Arrow, Kenneth. 1963. Social Choice and Individual Values. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Beitz, Charles R. 1989. Political Equality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Christiano, Thomas. 1996. The Rule of the Many. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
Christiano, Thomas. 2004. “The Authority of Democracy.” Journal of Political Philosophy 12(3): 266–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cohen, Joshua. 1989. “Deliberation and Democratic Legitimacy.” In Hamlin, A. and Pettit, P. (eds.), The Good Polity, pp. 1734. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Cohen, Joshua. 1997. “Procedure and Substance in Deliberative Democracy.” In Bohman, J. and Rehg, W. (eds.), Deliberative Democracy, pp. 407–37. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dewey, John. 1927. The Public and its Problems. Athens, OH: Swallow Press.Google Scholar
Dewey, John. 1939. “Creative Democracy.” Retrieved February 24, 2008, from Scholar
Estlund, David. 1993. “Making Truth Safe for Democracy.” In Copp, D., Hampton, J., and Roemer, J. E. (eds.), The Idea of Democracy, pp. 71100. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Estlund, David. 1997. “Beyond Fairness and Deliberation: The Epistemic Dimension of Democratic Authority.” In Bohman, J. and Rehg, W. (eds.), Deliberative Democracy: Essays on Reason and Politics, pp. 173204. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Estlund, David. 2000. “Political Quality.” In Paul, E. F., Miller, F. D., and Paul, J. (eds.), Democracy, pp. 127–60. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Estlund, David. 2008. Democratic Authority: A Philosophical Framework. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Goldman, Alvin I. 1999. Knowledge in a Social World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goodin, Robert. 2003. Reflective Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Habermas, Juergen. 1996. Between Facts and Norms. Rehg, W. (trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harding, Sandra. 1991. Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women's Lives. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Harding, Sandra. 1998. Is Science Multicultural? Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
Kitcher, Philip. 1993. The Advancement of Science. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Kitcher, Philip. 2001. Science, Truth, and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Korsgaard, Christine. 1983. “Two Distinctions in Goodness.” Philosophical Review 92(2): 169–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Korsgaard, Christine. 1997. “Taking the Law into Our Own Hands: Kant on the Right to Revolution.” In Reath, A., Herman, B., and Korsgaard, C. (eds.), Reclaiming the History of Ethics: Essays for John Rawls, pp. 297328. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
List, Christian and Goodin, Robert. 2001. “Epistemic Democracy: Generalizing the Condorcet Jury Theorem.” Journal of Political Philosophy 9(3): 277306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Longino, Helen. 1987. Science as Social Knowledge. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Longino, Helen. 2002a. The Fate of Knowledge. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Longino, Helen. 2002b. “Reply to Philip Kitcher.” Philosophy of Science 69: 573–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Peter, Fabienne. 2007a. “Democratic Legitimacy and Proceduralist Social Epistemology.” Politics, Philosophy, and Economics 6(3): 329–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Peter, Fabienne. 2007b. “Rawls' Idea of Public Reason and Democratic Legitimacy.” Politics and Ethics Review 3(1): 129–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Putnam, Hilary. 1990. “A Reconsideration of Deweyan Democracy.” Southern California Law Review 63: 1671–97.Google Scholar
Rawls, John. 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rawls, John. 1993. Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Rouse, Joseph. 1996. Engaging Science: How to Understand Its Practices Philosophically. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sen, Amartya. 1985. “Well-Being, Agency and Freedom.” Journal of Philosophy 82: 169221.Google Scholar
Sen, Amartya. 1999. “Democracy and Social Justice.” Paper presented at the Seoul Conference on Democracy, Market Economy and Development, February 26–27, 1999.Google Scholar
Talisse, Robert and Aikin, Scott. 2005. “Why Pragmatists Cannot be Pluralists.” Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 41: 101–18.Google Scholar
Wall, Steven. 2007. “Democracy and Equality.” Political Quarterly 57: 416–38.Google Scholar