Non-Instrumental Value of Epistemic Democracy: A Republican Argument
Proponents of epistemic democracy defend democracy’s capacity to harness people’s wisdom and produce better results than its rivals (Cohen 1986; Goodin and Spiekermann 2018; Landemore 2012). Yet contemporary democracies are non-ideal systems, marked by exclusion and epistemic marginalization (Anderson 2006; Fricker 2007; Shklar 1990). By implication, certain groups’ ideas and values might be systematically misunderstood and denied acknowledgment by the political process. In the long run, epistemic injustice might undermine the system’s legitimacy, fostering discontent even against a competent epistemic authority (Estlund 2008). Addressing this problem, this paper outlines a non-instrumental defense of epistemic democracy, as a complement to now-established instrumental accounts. Exploring the relation of what one knows to individuals’ freedom and dignity, the paper draws on the neo-republican conception of liberty and offers a theory of epistemic nondomination. The paper has two aims. First, strengthening the argument for epistemic democracy by focusing on the intrinsic value of knowledge sharing and its value beyond the realm of electoral politics. Second, demonstrating that a neo-republican approach to political epistemology offers better tools to address epistemic injustice and helps pick out institutional remedies.
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