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Jeremy Fortier
City College of New York (New York, NY 10016-4309)
How Rational Does Democracy Need to Be?

Writing two to three chapters of a book about the kind of reasoning necessary for citizens in a liberal democracy.

This book manuscript deals with the following puzzle: Enlightenment and contemporary liberal thought generally share in common the notion that liberal democracy is a “rational” regime, where political decision-making is shaped by processes of reasoning and reason-giving. However, the rationalist justification of democracy is questioned by two major sources: first, by influential voices in late modern Continental political philosophy; second, by recent research in the field of American political science. On both fronts, a similar claim is made: namely, that liberal democratic political theory has failed to recognize that human beings are primarily “rationalizing” beings, rather than “reasoning” beings. I believe that political theorists need to take this claim seriously, so that we can consider with fresh eyes the question: to what extent are genuinely “rational” citizens required in order to have a properly functioning liberal democracy?

Project fields:
American Government; History of Philosophy; Political Theory

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2020 – 7/31/2020