ROUNDTABLE ON EPISTEMIC DEMOCRACY AND ITS CRITICS
Jeffrey Checkel, Jeffrey Friedman, Matthias Matthijs & Rogers Smith
ABSTRACT: On September 4, 2015, the Political Epistemology/Ideas, Knowledge, and Politics section of the American Political Science Association sponsored a roundtable on ideational turns in the four subdisciplines of political science as part of its annual meetings. Chairing the roundtable was Jeffrey Friedman, Department of Government, University of Texas, Austin. The other participants were Jeffrey Checkel, Department of Political Science, Simon Fraser University; Matthias Matthijs, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; and Rogers Smith, Department of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania. We thank the participants for permission to republish their remarks, which they were offered the opportunity to edit after the fact. PIKETTY AND POLITICAL EPISTEMOLOGY
ABSTRACT: Although Thomas Piketty is largely known for his recent empirical contributions to the study of inequality, his work on epistemology has been substantial. It remains relatively unreferenced in the political epistemology literature both because it has been overshadowed by his work on inequality and because it was written for an audience of economists rather than political scientists. Piketty’s work on these themes can be divided into analyses of political belief formation and analyses of the epistemic properties of democratic institutions. Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Piketty’s recent book, also reflects his long-standing interest in epistemological questions. The major epistemic claim of that book is that political knowledge is an endogenous phenomenon: policy generates new knowledge over the course of its administration. One of the benefits of the primary policy proposal of Capital, the global wealth tax, is that it will generate new knowledge about wealth inequality. AN EPISTEMIC JUSTIFICATION FOR THE OBLIGATION TO VOTE
ABSTRACT: Received wisdom in most democracies is that voting should be seen as a political freedom that citizens have a right to exercise at their discretion. But I propose that we have a duty to vote, albeit a duty to vote well: with knowledge and a sense of impartiality. Fulfillment of this obligation would contribute to the epistemic advantages of democracy, and would thereby instantiate the duty to promote and support just institutions. QUESTIONING PARTICIPATION AND SOLIDARITY AS GOALS OF CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION
Piet van der Ploeg & Laurence Guérin
ABSTRACT: According to many governments and educationalists, education should aim to develop dispositions conducive to political participation and solidarity, because democratic citizenship presupposes participation and solidarity. But there are radically different views on the nature of good citizenship. We examine the implications of this dissensus for citizenship education. Education, we contend, should involve and develop autonomy and open-mindedness. We argue that this requires a more critical approach than is possible when political participation and solidarity are conceived of as goals of education.