Friday, May 13, 2011
Don't worry, I haven't gone wobbly on democracy
For the crew who helped me overcome my anxieties about the strengths of libertarianism over the last couple weeks, I owe you thanks; you can rest assured that your efforts have helped and my current draft on retributive justice and the demands of democratic citizenship has taken a stronger pro-democracy view. Phew. (Needless to say, please don't bother quoting or citing that blog post in anything since I now disavow some of the tentative concerns I raised there.)
Here's an interesting thing emerging from that discussion though. If you look at one of the best accounts of democratic authority out there, Scott Shapiro's essay from his 2002 edited volume with Jules Coleman, there's a footnote in the final version (that's not in the online version on Scott's SSRN page) in which Scott leaves out from the analysis the case of the "internal exile," the person whose private pursuits are not dependent on a pervasive scheme of social cooperation. As I put it, this is a person who goes off the grid. I followed up with Scott and he didn't think his account could necessarily reach that kind of person in terms of obligating him to view the law as having some kind of independent moral force. I'm wondering which accounts of political obligation, if any, y'all think are most successful at reaching that person. Feel free to email me or to provide suggestions or citations in the comments. Thanks.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Don't worry, I haven't gone wobbly on democracy:
Re: "the person whose private pursuits are not dependent on a pervasive scheme of social cooperation."
I confess to not hearing of the "internal exile" example before and would need it to be filled out before attempting a response. It seems on first glance to be an example of a "thought experiment" so abstract or unreal as to be without significance or value for a model of political obligation. In other words, and at least in modern societies, I have a difficult time imagining any person having "private pursuits" that didn't have as a condition at least a modicum of prior dependence on a scheme of social cooperation. The very notion of something being "private," after all, is unintelligible without a converse conception of the contrast class that consists of what is "public." I'm reminded of what Gandhi said (which, in turn, is reminiscent of the argument of the personified Laws in the Crito) when writing against the modern notion of "private property" as sustained by capitalism and legitimated by Liberalism:
"The customs, values, traditions, ways of life and thought, habits, language and educational, political and other institutions constituting a social order were created by the quiet co-operation and the anonymous sacrifices of countless men and women over several generations, none of whom asked for or could ever receive rewards for all their efforts. And their integrity was preserved by every citizen using them in a morally responsible manner. Every social order was thus of necessity a co-operative enterprise created and sustained by the spirit of sharing, mutual concern, self-sacrifice and yajna [sacred sacrifice or spiritual offering in general]. And its moral and cultural capital, available by its very nature to all members of society as freely as the air they breathed, constituted their collective and common heritage to be lovingly cherished and enriched."
Ostensibly "private pursuits" outside the social order are perhaps best thought of those belonging to someone who's literally or figuratively "gone mad."
Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | May 13, 2011 5:56:12 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.