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Deliberative perfectionism: why we can and should talk about the good

Bonotti, Matteo 2015. Deliberative perfectionism: why we can and should talk about the good. Philosophy and Social Criticism 41 (7) , pp. 637-653. 10.1177/0191453715568920

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In contemporary political theory, perfectionists believe that the state should promote substantive conceptions of the good through its legislation. Supporters of neutrality, instead, claim that the state should refrain from doing so. In this article I analyse perfectionism in relation to Jürgen Habermas’ theory of discourse and deliberative politics (1996) and critique Habermas’ distinction between ‘ethical’ and ‘moral’ discourses (1984, 1990). By relating Habermas’ theory to George Sher’s account of perfectionism (1997), I argue that we can establish the meta-ethical grounds for a model of deliberation encompassing ethical matters (that is, questions concerning the good life) not confined to the limits of specific communities. I conclude by arguing that ethical deliberation is not only feasible but also desirable. Given the fact of ethical pluralism, and in order to show respect towards their fellow citizens, political perfectionists ought to be ready to show how their ethical claims (which they want to see translated into state policy) relate to deeper meta-ethical human goals on which we can ideally find a consensus through deliberation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0191-4537
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2019 02:14

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