Democracy and the Limits of Reason: Why a sustained defense of liberal commitments is necessary to counter democracy’s disinformation and xenophobia

Lawrence Torcello
Rochester Institute of Technology, United States | lgtghs@rit.edu

Received: 31-May-2019 | Accepted: 31-October-2019 | Published Online: 24-November-2019
Disputatio [Dec. 2019], Vol. 9, No. 13, pp. 00-00 | DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3567173
Article | [EN/SP] | Full Text | Statistics | Copyright Notice [sp] | Vol. 9 No. 13

How to cite this article:
Torcello, Lawrence (2020). «Democracy and the Limits of Reason: Why a sustained defense of liberal commitments is necessary to counter democracy’s disinformation and xenophobia / La democracia y los límites de la razón: por qué es necesaria una defensa continuada de los compromisos liberales para contrarrestar la desinformación y la xenofobia». Disputatio. Philosophical Research Bulletin 9, no. 13: pp. 00–00.


Abstract | Democracy is often used as shorthand for liberal democracy. Despite such casual conflation, the two concepts remain importantly distinct. I argue that democracy unfettered by the constraints of liberal institutions and commitments gives rise to the proliferation of disinformation and to xenophobic populism. I draw upon Plato and the democracy of ancient Athens to illustrate the history of association between disinformation and democracy. Moving on to our more contemporary treatments of liberalism, specifically to the ideal theory of John Rawls, I show that in order to address disinformation and the reactionary politics in which it thrives, we must attend to a robust defense of liberalism against non-liberal and illiberal democracy.
Keywords |
John Rawls · Plato · Disinformation · Climate Denial · Liberal Democracy.

La democracia y los límites de la razón: por qué es necesaria una defensa continuada de los compromisos liberales para contrarrestar la desinformación y la xenofobia

Resumen | “Democracia” a menudo se usa como abreviación para “democracia liberal”. A pesar de su uso indiferenciado, ambos conceptos tienen importantes diferencias. Sostengo que la democracia libre de las restricciones impuestas por las instituciones y los compromisos liberales da lugar a la proliferación de la desinformación y al populismo xenófobo. Me baso en Platón y en la democracia de la antigua Atenas para ilustrar la historia de la asociación entre desinformación y democracia. Posteriormente, paso a tratamientos más contemporáneos del liberalismo, específicamente a la teoría ideal de John Rawls. Con ello, argumento que para hacer frente a la política reaccionaria en la que prospera la desinformación debemos sostener una defensa firme del liberalismo.
Palabras Clave | John Rawls · Platón · Desinformación · Negacionismo del cambio climático · Democracia liberal.


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