Sincerity is a key notion within theories of deliberative democracy and a crucial feature of those approaches to public reason that give deliberation a prominent role for the functioning of a just and legitimate democratic society. Indeed, among political theorists sympathetic to the deliberative project, sincerity has been defended in various manners: as a fundamental criterion of validity to identify shared social and political understandings (Habermas 1984); as a means to achieve the practical benefit of promoting free discussions and open debates (Freeman 2000, 383); as an expression of respect among citizens stating their equal membership in the sovereign political body (Cohen 1997, 416); as necessary to sustain the value of civic friendship (Rawls 1997); as an antidote to rhetoric and manipulation (Quong 2010, 265); as a tool to secure relations of trust among citizens and to generate shared commitments (Goodin 2008, 263). Despite such common appraisal of sincere behaviour in democratic deliberation, few theorists have put forward a clear and definite account for it. It seems that norms of sincerity are at most stipulated to solve problems linked with the moral integrity of citizens (Greenawalt 1988; Murphy 1998; Eberle 2002) or strategic actions (Cohen 1989). Two interesting and recent attempts to provide a distinct argument for sincerity in deliberation are Schwartzman’s Principle of sincerity in public justification (SPJ) (2011) and Gaus’s defence of convergence in public reason as a way to ensure sincerity in public discourse (2011, 288-292). In this paper, I question and reject both accounts and propose a substitute for principles of sincerity in general. First, I tackle Schwartzman’s proposal and argue that both his conceptual and his instrumental arguments fail. Drawing from a consensus model of public justification, Schwartzman defends an idea of public reasons as shared, in the sense of drawn from a common set of liberal political values. Accordingly, he proposes a principle of sincerity requiring citizens to offer public reasons they sincerely think are sufficient to justify their preferred norms. In this way, citizens can have other convictions and even express such beliefs in public deliberations, as long as they also provide reasons they believe are public and with an adequate justificatory force. To defend such a view, Schwartzman argues that SPJ is simply an instantiation of the principle of respect: if one is to respect her fellow citizens, she ought to conform to the principle of sincerity. However, the problem is that, conceptualized in this way, SPJ is in tension with the wide view of public reason and the related idea of reasoning by conjecture (Rawls 1997) Schwartzman explicitly claims to adhere to (2012). Indeed, the wide view of public reason and the principle of sincerity cannot be both implied by the principle of respect because if reasoning from conjecture is pursuable, it is not true that the principle of respect always require conforming to SPJ. The second argument Schwartzman advances for SPJ is instrumental in kind and it relies on the idea that the principle of sincerity is justified because of the benefits it brings to deliberation. Schwartzman thinks that actual knowledge of the reasons presented in public justification is necessary to deliberate correctly because it permits to uncover mistakes in reasoning and to discover potentially defeating counterarguments to one’s position. However, the link between sincerity and the epistemic enhancement of deliberation cannot help to be controversial for, although it seems reasonable to think that deliberation improves citizens’ decisions, would not it be better to have open access to all sort of reasons? The point is that if what is important of deliberation is to evaluate and verify the correctness of political positions and their justifications, then all reasons should be, in principle, admissible for all reasons could help improving the understanding of political principles and decisions. Turning to Gaus’s argument, I argue that convergence in public justification is incompatible with sincere deliberation because, although some sort of philosophical relativism about reasons might support it, it is nevertheless over-demanding and unrealistic in the actual context of deliberation. Convergence approaches to public justification rely on the idea that for reasons to be public there is no need to enjoy some property of shareability (Vallier 2011), but simply to be intelligible (Gaus 2011). In this sense, public reasons are those reasons that others can recognize as belonging and consistent to one’s sound, and logically coherent, set of beliefs. On this account, when citizens deliberate, they need not to find reasons sharable by all members of the citizenry. Rather, they need to offer each other reasons consistent with their respective sets of beliefs and deep convictions. Although it might seem that convergence in public justification may well be suited to secure sincerity in deliberation, it is not clear whether it can admit of sincerity at all. The problem lies in the actual possibility of being sincere in believing a fellow citizen justified when one does not share her set of beliefs and considers it wrong. To rebut this objection, a convergent theorist can endorse some version of moral relativism, but this move is nevertheless highly problematic. Indeed, it would be incoherent for a political theorist like Gaus, who intends to avoid metaphysical problems and ontological debates (2011, 14, 233), to embrace such a controversial account of the nature of moral reasons. Moreover, the relativist strategy has a problem of practice when it comes to sincere convergence: even if relativism was true, it is not possible to expect all people to endorse it. Accepting a relativist framework of understanding is not only controversial at the philosophical level, but also incredibly demanding of citizens for it would require them to consider the normative status of their beliefs the same as that of others. In discussing both Schwartzman and Gaus’s proposals, I argue that sincerity, as a general notion, is not only controversial, but also practically irrelevant when it comes to the political domain. Indeed, in being linked with citizens’ intentions and inner mental states, which are impossible to ascertain, sincerity ends up being unworkable. As a substitute, I propose a principle of reliability in deliberation (PRD) apt to achieve those political goods theorists have associated with sincerity. Indeed, it is undeniable that manipulation in deliberation is undesirable, given that it constitutes a problem for the relation of trust among citizens and the possibility of deliberation itself. If citizens knew others were to deceive and manipulate them, it would be reasonable for them to refrain from discussion. So, drawing from Audi’s idea of reliability as a virtue (2008), I specify some normative features that citizens need to display in order to secure the possibility of deliberation and shelter mutual trust by excluding the possibility of tricking others. In particular, PRD requires citizens to be stable in their commitment to reach the best justification they can for their claims, and to engage in deliberation after careful reasoning and judgment; to be predictable in their behaviour when they engage in deliberation, in their reactions to other people’s arguments, challenges, and the possibility of disagreement. Finally, it requires them to be correct most of the times, by not advocating for ideas clearly in opposition to general normative understanding, and by not lying about the factual content of the reasons they propose. PDR does not require citizens to offer the best reasons they have, or the ones they find most convincing in defending those laws they want to enact, maintain, or remove. Rather, citizens need to have justifications for their proposals and can offer different reasons to convince their fellow citizens to agree with them, provided that they are not based on false evidence or in opposition with general normative understandings. PRD neither demands nor prohibits citizens to be sincere about their reasons, but it bans cheating. In the end, the reasons why we care about sincerity in deliberation concern the need to prevent manipulation and cheating among citizens. To achieve that, it is sufficient to use a less controversial and more parsimonious concept than that of sincerity, as the notion of reliability is.
Sincerità o Affidabilità? Ripensare la deliberazione / G. Bistagnino. ((Intervento presentato al convegno Mercoledì Filosofici del Maino tenutosi a Pavia nel 2014.
|Titolo:||Sincerità o Affidabilità? Ripensare la deliberazione|
BISTAGNINO, GIULIA (Primo)
|Data di pubblicazione:||14-mag-2014|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore SPS/01 - Filosofia Politica|
|Citazione:||Sincerità o Affidabilità? Ripensare la deliberazione / G. Bistagnino. ((Intervento presentato al convegno Mercoledì Filosofici del Maino tenutosi a Pavia nel 2014.|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||14 - Intervento a convegno non pubblicato|