Deliberation in Context: Reexamining the Confrontation between the Discourse Ethics and Neo-Aristotelianism

Ryan Holston’s “Deliberation in Context: Reexamining the Confrontation between the Discourse Ethics and Neo-Aristotelianism” appears in Telos 181 (Winter 2017). Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

Deliberative democrats continue to emphasize universal justification as the key criterion for establishing political legitimacy within pluralistic democracies. However, this essay argues that their refusal to acknowledge the limits to mutual appeal posed by the scale of the ethical life (Sittlichkeit) is utopian. Moreover, the cost of such utopianism is the failure to acknowledge the vital role of a sensus communis for meaningful deliberation. Drawing on the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer, this essay aims to combat the abstraction that has characterized much of the recent debate over deliberation.

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On the Dissolution of the Sensus Communis within Chavismo: The Meaning of “Revolución en la Revolución”

The following paper was presented at the Eighth Annual Telos Conference, held on February 15–16, 2014, in New York City.

In the following, I address the question of Venezuelan democracy under the fourteen-year mandate of recently deceased President Hugo Chávez from the philosophical perspective of Karl Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire to Louis Bonaparte. Recent Latin American history of the past twenty years has seen a resurgence of leftist governments sympathetic to Cuba’s Marxist revolutionary ideals of the 1960s, where Venezuela is no exception. Focusing on one particular event in Venezuela’s contemporary history, I wish to accomplish two things. The first is to convince my audience that Nicolás Maduro’s inauguration ceremony of his then newly appointed presidential cabinet in late-April 2013 is the sharpest expression of the current failed state and non-direction of Chavismo in Venezuela, or more precisely, what I call the dissolution of its sensus communis. Second, I wish to advance a philosophical question for discussion among audience members, namely, does replicating a historically prior political ideology ever secure success for democracy within present historical circumstances; more succinctly, in other words, do anachronistic political experiments produce volatile democracies?

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