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Georgia Warnke (University of California, Riverside)

Philosophy Colloquium Series

March 8, 2013 3:30 pm Philosophy Conference Room

"Deliberation and Interpretation"


Deliberative democratic theory takes up the question of how the citizens of diverse and pluralistic democracies, citizens who by definition possess different interests, values and conceptions of the good, can nonetheless reach decisions, enact laws, and determine policies that they can all find legitimate and binding. The answer the theory gives looks to non-coercive deliberations among free and equal citizens who justify their claims and proposals by appealing to public reasons and considerations, on in other words, to reasons and considerations that can be persuasive to all those affected. Yet is it clear that in diverse and pluralistic democracies what stymies democratic justification is the failure to offer or accept public reasons or considerations? Might it not be that what stymies justification is our failure to acknowledge that we can agree on public reasons and considerations while understanding them in different but equally compelling ways? This paper explores these questions and investigates a hermeneutic alternative to deliberative theory. We ought not only acknowledge but also value differences in the ways we can plausibly understand our public reasons and considerations.


Georgia Warnke is Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center of Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside. She is the author of numerous articles and five books: Gadamer: Hermeneutics, Tradition and Reason (1987); Justice and Interpretation (1992); Legitimate Differences (1999); After Identity (2007) and Debating Sex and Gender (2010).