Infinite Regresses, Recursions, and Public Reason

  • Fred M. Frohock


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.


Political Process Political Theory Public Reason Deliberative Democracy Comprehensive Doctrine 
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© Fred M. Frohock 2006

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  • Fred M. Frohock

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