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‹ “Getting Duped” • Estlund Reading Group Chapter 4 ›
Remarks on Comments on Chapter 3
Saturday, 2 February 2008 in Posts, Reading Group by David Estlund | No comments
Again, I really appreciate all the excellent and challenging discussion so far. I am glad to have the chance to reply. Sorry this is rather lengthy, and still doesn’t address nearly all the points. I assert and employ what I call a “qualified acceptability requirement” in a schematic form, leaving largely open which views count as qualified (although I fill in bits of it at crucial points). I don’t go deeper into moral philosophy in order to provide a moral argument for it. Many people object to the whole approach, which is very similar to that of Rawls’s political liberalism. What I do by way of defense is to defend it against several lines of objection. Several commentators have wished I gave a “direct” argument for it. To say, however, that the theory “needs” to do so seems to require an awful lot. Is a theory not entitled to any beginning premises? If there are objections to the premises, that’s one thing. I defend against what I take to be the more important ones, and no doubt there are others that would need to be answered. But apart from the evaluation of specific objections, the theory doesn’t seem much damaged by noting that the premises are not themselves supported by deeper argument. What theory could be immune from that objection? Several comments worry that I am committing the very same expert/boss fallacy that I identify and criticize elsewhere. The move of mine that is suspect is my holding that a view is not qualified unless it has the right view of which views are qualified—a kind of “expertise.” As I say in comment 2, QAR empowers no one, so there’s no real issue of bosses. Still, counting some points of view as disqualified because they are mistaken about certain things might seem similar. And so it is a good question whether it is also defeated in a similar way. Despite a certain parallel structure, the two are on very different moral footings. The expert/boss fallacy (as I call it) seeks to empower some over others, and it is thus subject to the QAR. The QAR, since it is a doctrine used in justifications that would empower some over others, is also subject to the QAR (subject to itself). However, since it does not seek to go from expertise to authority (but only to “qualification”) it does not fail in the way the expert/boss fallacy does. The suggestion against me seems to be that, if I am consistent, points of view should not be counted as disqualified on the basis of having false views. On that alternative approach an objection to a political justification stemming from the view that women are animals and not fully human must be counted as qualified and so as sufficient to defeat the proposed justification. Rather than embracing that conclusion (I take it) my critics argue that my own approach cannot coherently avoid it and so my whole approach must be flawed. This objection grants for the sake of argument that QAR is an appropriate constraint on claims to legitimate authority, and asks whether expertise can consistently be blocked at that level but not at the level of determining which points of view count as qualified. So if the question is about consistency we have to see whether I am using a double standard across those two levels. At the first level, where we ask whether knowers have legitimate authority, the standard I use to block that move is to say that their status as knowers is not acceptable to all qualified points of view.
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it is certainly logically possible for there to be qualified disagreement about who is qualified. Do all qualified points of view agree with the proposition (whatever it might be). But it passes. disagreement with which I am using to disqualify points of view? I agree that this sort of consistency is required. is whether the identification of the supposedly correct points of view is itself acceptable to all qualified points of view. having erroneous views about which beings have moral standing at all would be disqualifying. There is no qualified disagreement about that. indeed. The particular proposition that prompted the objection was “C is the class of qualified points of view. No class of the qualified would be available. As I note in the chapter. so far as I can see. to return to the objection. The objector’s worry is that I must grant that there is qualified disagreement about even this. again.” recall. So the question forced on me by consistency is whether all qualified views accept the correct set of qualified points of view. including any respect in which the boundaries are determined by whether the point of view is correct or incorrect on certain matters. They are not themselves 2 of 5 7/1/09 4:46 PM . I claim that objections stemming from those particular erroneous views should not be thought to have a certain kind of moral significance: defeating proposed political justifications. The expert/boss fallacy is blocked by saying there is qualified disagreement about who is expert. erroneous views about another dimension of moral status. it is to assert only a few things about that boundary. It seems perfectly sensible to deprive points of view that are mistaken on that moral matter a veto over proposed justifications.” where C is stipulated by us to be the true boundaries of the qualified set. defend it in a general way. has consistency been respected? I believe I am applying the same test at both levels. qualified disagreement on which points of view are qualified.. So. There is. erroneous views about which points of view are entitled to justifications they can accept —about which points of view are qualified. then the theory should be free to go either way. since none would be acceptable to all qualified points of view. But if there is no real argument for that position. but a moral question as I briefly explain in Comment *** on the discussion of Chapter 1) then the whole project would collapse.Public Reason · Remarks on Comments on Chapter 3 http://publicreason. And if there is such disagreement (which is not an empirical. But I see no reason to think either of them is blocked. my method is not to propose a general theory of the qualified (or the “reasonable”). Readers cannot infer anything about its content from what that word means in ordinary language. and then apply it to cases. As I say in the book. we would want some argument based on an account of the content of “qualified. it should. And since it needs to go the other way. So if an objector wants to argue that there is. nothing implausible about holding that one of the disqualifying characteristics is having a false view of which points of view are qualified. then so would that one. So what happens if I were to consistently use that same test against my own proposal to count those points of view that lack certain correct views as disqualified? The test required by consistency. Some such errors will be disqualifying and some won’t. is a term of art.. Rather. I simply put on the list of disqualifying errors. If my move is blocked by an expert/boss problem. The view that only points of view with the correct (“expert”) view of who is qualified are themselves qualified is put to the very same test. That represents error on a moral matter of special importance. “Qualified.net/2008/02/02/remarks-on-comments-on-ch. To take a different example of a disqualifying moral error. at crucial places in my argument.” I don’t mean that they bear some special burden of proof. not even the true one.
) to count as disqualified any point of view (or objection stemming from such a point of view) that meets with reasonable objection. whatever it may be. But Rawls counts the objection as reasonable…because there is reasonable disagreement 3 of 5 7/1/09 4:46 PM .Public Reason · Remarks on Comments on Chapter 3 http://publicreason. (Here Bill actually switches from “points of view” to “objections. Bill says that because it’s controversial which views get qualified by being true. I will return to this specific point about epistemic superiority at the end of my comments. meets the QAR. That would qualify lots of views that reject all kinds of things I regard as crucial to qualification. The interesting question would be whether there is some reason to think I am not entitled to them. “Let me suggest one POV [point of view] that an epistemic-proceduralism-friendly QAR would –wrongly– have to exclude. I’m puzzled. but what reason is there to think so? Turning to another matter: Bill Edmundson writes. at least if it is to be of any use to epistemic proceduralism. which in turn draws the objections to Rawls that Micah refers to. Qualified points of view disagree about which is the true point of view. because he says this seems to be the route Rawls takes. I agree that granting that all “expertise-claiming” views as qualified would be fatal. So. so I may have it all wrong. but that is never an interesting objection to a claim. Bill says is b.) He says that this counts too many views as qualified for epistemic proceduralism’s purposes. He argues. of course. as Estlund has explained). but let me try. That would mean disqualifying a theistically based objection to an atheistic political justification.” Let’s call this the view that all true views are qualified. including basic moral equality of human beings. What I don’t see is how this leads to a problem or a dilemma. look at what we could do with democratic theory. holding the view that true views are qualified requires one to choose between two choices. it will be controversial which ones get so qualified. The problem with responding to POVx by taking route a) of course is that not all POVs now qualified will rank democracy above truth. but as saying that if they were genuine implications of the correct view of the qualified.” I find this difficult to understand. Of course it is logically possible that they are not correct. If you prefer. which I’m sure it does. Even apart from that.. etc. he worries that it qualifies points of view that deny democracy’s epistemic superiority. But I would not count that larger class as qualified. but I take Estlund to tend rather to option a). Therefore.net/2008/02/02/remarks-on-comments-on-ch. Rawls seems to take route b) in Political Liberalism. that the qualified acceptability requirement must deny that all true points of view are qualified. it is far from certain that democracy rates higher epistemically that all other expertise-claiming POVs (this in fact is the central problem. to accept POVx will mean either a) to allow as qualified all expertise-claiming objections. which holds that “Any true POV. Let this be POVx. or b) to disqualify all expertise-claiming objections that do not command unanimity within the circle of qualified POVs.. then. all those that claim to be true). you can see me not as asserting those things.” but I’ll take him to mean objections based on expertise-seeking points of view. defended to any great extent. on the ground that there is reasonable disagreement about theism.” Of course. Moreover. The QAR will not do the winnowing it needs to do unless it responds to POVx along line b). it will be controversial which is the true POV. if one accepted that true points of view must be qualified. a) Count as qualified some different and less controversial class of views (for example. I take it that his argument for this claim is in the following passage: “Let me call POVs that aim at truth and employ generally accepted modes of reasoning “expertise-claiming. In particular. The only other option. But Rawls does not say that a point of view or an objection stemming from a point of view is disqualified just because there is reasonable disagreement about it.
Consider some sort of anarcho-capitalist 4 of 5 7/1/09 4:46 PM . If the true point of view includes the view that epistocracy is better. then they have misidentified the class of qualified views. it will not be available to public reason to count any view as qualified because it’s true. Rather. and must rebut the presumption subject to the qualified acceptability requirement. nor do I deny that this produces a qualified objection to claims that democracy is superior to epistocracy. So the danger that the true view might not be counted as qualified is avoided. I’d welcome any clarification. I need it to be beyond qualified disagreement that some democratic arrangement is epistemically better than that. a morally important mistake.net/2008/02/02/remarks-on-comments-on-ch. or else it wouldn’t be the true criterion. suppose we had to grant that true points of view are qualified. Recall. instead. (Rawls at some point conjectures that the true view seems pretty likely to meet the criteria for “reasonable. democracy is an interesting one in this context. I hope): consider the claim that democracy is epistemically better. So democracy does not win on the grounds that it is superior to epistocracy. as I’ve suggested above). So I don’t deny that the true view might include that superiority of epistocracy. So let me bring that point to bear here. Of course. so I’m pretty sure I haven’t gotten his argument right. then mustn’t we grant that this provides a qualified objection to the claim that democracy is better? I argue in my remarks last week that if there is reasonable objection in both directions democracy wins. and counts certain ones as qualified on other grounds (often including commitments to certain truths.Public Reason · Remarks on Comments on Chapter 3 http://publicreason. But here’s an objection to my view (close to Bill’s objection. in the face of qualified dispute in both directions. If the true view is qualified (Bill’s principle). I just don’t see how this upsets the apple cart in any way. but I have to be brief. since that is open to qualified controversy. but on other grounds). It wins that contest by default. And this is relevant to Bill’s objection. In general though. each qualified point of view brackets the question of which is true. as everyone here seems to grant. defended in this chapter. So. about theism. The question of markets vs. because as a proposal of a lesser magnitude of authority it enjoys a presumption which is not overcome. If a true view is not being treated as qualified by the other views then they are mistaken in a morally important way. There will be qualified objections to this claim. My response to the comments on Chapter 2 is relevant here. then the true qualified acceptance criterion will include it (not qua true.. leading to a potential stand-off. I claim that there are qualified objections in both directions.” but there is no guarantee. I want to argue that arrangements that propose greater extents of authority have a presumption against them. What it needs to beat on epistemic grounds would be any arrangement that does not propose a greater magnitude of authority.. Suppose a certain epistocracy is actually epistemically better than democracy (a possibility I readily grant). I regard a democratically authorized market economy as a feature of a democratic arrangement. On my own view. so that’s not the relevant competitor.) A final point about this. we must take the qualified acceptability requirement itself to be true. which is resolved by the presumption against authority. I’m sure Bill agrees with this reading of Rawls. One example would be random choice of policies. On the question of epistemic superiority and qualified disagreement: Several people raise good questions about exactly what is being asserted about the epistemic value of democracy. Now if this way of identifying qualified views happens to leave out a true point of view.
. I think.php?redirect_to=http://publicreason. arrangement. No comments Comments feed for this article You must be registered (http://publicreason. I don’t have a clear enough idea of what the anarcho-capitalist arrangement involves to know whether there really is a well-defined alternative there. Please specify your academic institutional affiliation on the registration form. democratic (which is not yet any argument against it). This is mainly illustrative. I mention this here only to suggest that a random procedure might not be the only one that is on all-fours with democracy with respect to the magnitude of the authority that some are proposed to have over others. that it is epistemically better than deep anarcho-capitalism. 5 of 5 7/1/09 4:46 PM .. This does not obviously propose asymmetrical authority relations in the way epistocracy does. democracy’s case depends on the epistemic comparison. where the market is not authorized or controlled by the state. but is held to be the final arbiter of authority. in a way that is beyond qualified disagreement.net/2008/02/02/remarks-on-comments-on-ch. Public Reason welcomes participation from members of the academic community with an interest in political philosophy and theory. But if there is. So. within public reason. And yet it is not. but I’m not arguing the matter here.php?action=register) and logged in (http://publicreason. at the moment I believe that epistemic proceduralism can only win its case for democracy by arguing. with anarcho-capitalism. and not something that strikes me as a serious threat. Your registration as a participant is subject to approval.net/2008/02/02/remarkson-comments-on-chapter-3/) to post a comment.net/wp-login.net/wp-login.Public Reason · Remarks on Comments on Chapter 3 http://publicreason.
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