Modeling Public Reason: Political Liberalism and Realpolitik

  • Fred M. Frohock


The fine tunings, the nuances of political languages drawn from political engagements and the recursive functions of complex systems, receive a blunter assessment when these languages are turned into the models that might serve public reason. The one model that presents the highest pragmatic hopes for the management of radical disputes is political liberalism. It is, after all, a program that modestly and realistically celebrates liberal values in the domains of the political rather than the larger society. As a result it appears to carry minimal conceptual baggage in managing disputes in the divisive pluralism sometimes found in democratic arrangements.1 To see how dispute management in political liberalism is to work at its best levels, imagine an extreme: a society in which communities disagree all the way down, to whatever one can imagine as fundamentals, and even beyond that. Say that all of the community-oriented devices that might reconcile the parties are exhausted, or futile from the beginning. Imagine now that the disagreement has become a dispute without a resolution, and perhaps without even a settlement method. Add to the stakes the proposition that the dispute is important and must be managed for the political society to continue functioning. What is the answer to this kind of problem?


Liberal Democracy Liberal Theory Public Reason Political Liberalism Political Reasoning 
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© Fred M. Frohock 2006

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  • Fred M. Frohock

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