Truth, Pragmatism, and Democracy: Another Route to the Liberal Values

Michael Gifford, Scott Scheall

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Cheryl Misak has presented an argument for democracy based on her analysis of the writings of Charles Sanders Peirce: If we care about the truth of our beliefs—as everyone does, according to Misak—then we ought to support democratic norms and democratic political institutions. We argue in the present paper that Misak’s argument does not adequately justify a democratic political system. Her argument does, how-ever, justify a rational commitment to the standard liberal-democratic values of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the like. We demonstrate as well that Misak’s argument for the democratic values withstands well-known objections against her argument for a democratic political system. We also show that weaker premises involving every agent’s commitment to pursuing their own subjective ends can get us to Misak’s conclusions regarding liberal values. These weaker premises avoid objections raised against Misak’s Peircean view and are acceptable even to those who reject Misak’s idea, taken from her reading of Peirce, that truth is a constitutive norm of belief.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)97-113
    Number of pages17
    JournalTransactions of the Charles S Peirce Society
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


    • Charles S. Peirce
    • Cheryl Misak
    • Deliberative Democracy
    • Epistemic Democracy
    • Robert Talisse
    • Truth

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Philosophy


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