Rigor or rhetoric: philosopher and public in dialogue

Deven Burks 1
  • 1 University of Luxembourg, , UCLouvain,


charges public philosophy with being “neoliberal”. To understand that charge better, I define, in §1, three versions of public philosophy which might be concerned and two pictures of its practice targeted by Leiter. I also compare two deliberative sites wherein those pictures may play out. In §2, I sketch how Leiter’s two paradoxes for “neoliberal” public philosophy lead to a revised public philosophy. §3 questions the paradoxes’ empirical grounding and scope. Lastly, in §4, I assume Leiter’s picture and illustrate how philosophical dialogue, through appeal to personal self-image and “moral perceptions”, may still influence public discourse. I conclude that Leiter both over- and understates his case and that his conclusions require greater scrutiny.

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