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.
Joshua Cohen ranks among the best and most influential political philosophers at work in the United States today. This uncommonly valuable volume will be a required purchase for anybody whose own work is at the boundary of philosophy and politics.
Joshua Cohen is the leading political philosopher of deep democracy of his generation. This book is profound, subtle, and relevant. We need his wise and powerful voice in this age of Obama.
Joshua Cohen's Philosophy, Politics, Democracy is a major contribution to all three. With arguments that have long been at the cutting edge of political philosophy, Cohen develops a distinctive conception of democracy as based upon reason-giving among equals, and he does so in a way that never ignores political reality. Daily political discourse, Cohen argues, contains conceptions of the social world that border on philosophical thought. Good philosophical argument develops those conceptions more rigorously and generally, and then returns to the world of politics to show how the conception might be realized there. All too often, Cohen observes, we respond to political ideals with 'a knowing irony of the intellect and a lassitude of the heart.' Realistic without cynicism, idealistic without naïveté, Cohen's book responds to the real world with rigorous intellectual aspiration and undaunted practical hope.
- 408 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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