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Infinite Regresses, Recursions, and Public Reason

  • Fred M. Frohock

Abstract

One of the main conclusions of all of the arguments developed and presented here is that influential approaches to church and state in liberal democratic theory are wrong in most important respects. One source of the liberal error is in supposing that there is always a shared or common set of reasons that can be used for governing both religious and secular communities if only people are rational and reasonable. There can be a shared framework (not reasons) crafted by the universality of recursive systems, meaning that both religious and political practices are or can be forms of complex systems. But the differences between religion and politics can be substantial enough to divide and subdivide the languages in current versions of public reason and deliberative democracy into partisan portions, reducing all efforts at impartial or fair treatment to the very factions that the state is trying to manage. The secondary conclusion following the dismissal of a quest for reasons is that a form of governing must be found for religion and politics that depends not on the consensus seemingly required in the integrated democratic state, but on arrangements that fulfill more modest goals. It should be no surprise then that theorists might rationally choose avoidance paths away from the intellectual divisiveness that any deep heterogeneity in thought introduces to dispute management.

Keywords

Political Process Political Theory Public Reason Deliberative Democracy Comprehensive Doctrine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 3.
    Amir D. Aczel, The Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2000).Google Scholar
  2. Rudy Rucker, Infinity and the Mind (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995)Google Scholar
  3. David Wallace, Everything and More: A Compact History of ∞ (New York: Norton, 2003).Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Aristotle’s essences were famously revived by Saul Kripke in nominal but still strongly retentive form, in Naming and Necessity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1980).Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    I take this point from Charles Larmore, “Pluralism and Reasonable Disagreement,” Social Philosophy and Policy 11, No. 1 (1994), pp. 61–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 11.
    Overviews in A. Clark, Being There: Putting Brain, Body and World Together Again (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999)Google Scholar
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    Elaine Pagels, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (New York: Random House, 2003).Google Scholar
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    Ernest Gellner, Postmodernism, Reason and Religion (New York: Routledge, 1992).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Read again, for example, the influential arguments of Richard Rorty, nicely delineated as a response to discussants in Robert B. Brandom, ed., Rorty And His Critics (New York: Blackwell, 2000).Google Scholar
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    Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962).Google Scholar
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    Probably the best overview of theories of complex systems is the work of Niklas Luhmann, for example in Social Systems, trans. John Bednarz (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995)Google Scholar
  14. 23.
    These and other themes are developed by N. Luhmann in Political Theory in the Welfare State (NY: Walter de Gruyterm, 1990).Google Scholar
  15. 24.
    Michael Walzer, Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality (New York: Basic Books, 1983).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Fred M. Frohock 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred M. Frohock

There are no affiliations available

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