[lit-ideas] Re: Reason and Politics

  • From: Phil Enns <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2006 14:34:03 -0300

Walter Okshevsky quotes me:

"What makes this such an ideal defence of liberal democracy is the manner in
which [it]orients reason within the political realm.  In a liberal
democracy, reason has its proper end and it is that end that guides the
proper use of reason."

and then replies:

"I believe the Sage of K. would insist (rightly) that no particular end is
able to itself determine the autonomous use of practical reason. Ends,
conceived as goods, are of moral worth only as cases of universalizable
maxims or policies. Democracy, considered as such an end, is but an
institutional version of rational/universalizable speech and thought; the
former is consequent upon the latter, not its original or guiding source.
Without practical reason, we would lack an understanding of autonomy,
illegitimate self-exemption, persons as ends-in-themselves and a Republic of

The proper end of reason that I refer to above is not liberal democracy but
peaceful social relations, a claim I made earlier in the same post.  I agree
that no particular end is able to itself determine the autonomous use of
practical reason, but the autonomous use of practical reason requires the
condition of freedom.  Further, since ideal conditions of freedom do not
exist, the use of practical reason aims towards expanding the degree of
freedom as found in particular social arrangements.  The advance of
enlightenment resulting from practical reason, the understanding of
autonomy, illegitimacy of self-exemption, persons as end-in-themselves and a
Republic of Ends, is an advance towards an ideal of peaceful social


Phil Enns
Glen Haven, NS
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