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Philosophy, Politics, Democracy

Philosophy, Politics, Democracy

Selected Essays

Joshua Cohen

ISBN 9780674034488

Publication date: 10/01/2009

Over the past twenty years, Joshua Cohen has explored the most controversial issues facing the American public: campaign finance and political equality, privacy rights and robust public debate, hate speech and pornography, and the capacity of democracies to address important practical problems. In this highly anticipated volume, Cohen draws on his work in these diverse topics to develop an argument about what he calls, following John Rawls, “democracy’s public reason.” He rejects the conventional idea that democratic politics is simply a contest for power, and that philosophical argument is disconnected from life. Political philosophy, he insists, is part of politics, and its job is to contribute to the public reasoning about what we ought to do.
At the heart of Cohen’s normative vision for our political life is an ideal of democracy in which citizens and their representatives deliberate about the requirements of justice and the common good. It is an idealistic picture, but also firmly grounded in the debates and struggles in which Cohen has been engaged over nearly three decades. Philosophy, Politics, Democracy explores these debates and considers their implications for the practice of democratic politics.


  • For good reason, Joshua Cohen is widely regarded as among the leading political philosophers of his generation. Nearly all of these essays are highly original approaches to the topics discussed. Many of them are widely recognized by philosophers and political theorists as major and sometimes defining papers in their fields. Taken together, the collection develops an extremely impressive and intricate account of an ideal of democracy and democratic justice.

    —Samuel Freeman, University of Pennsylvania


  • Joshua Cohen is Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society at Stanford University and coeditor of Boston Review.

Book Details

  • 408 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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