Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1384-6639
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9692
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One of the central ideas of both Critical Theory social theory and of pragmatist theories of knowledge is that epistemic and normative claims are embedded in some practical context. This “practical turn” of epistemology is especially relevant to the social sciences, whose main practical contribution, according to pragmatism, is to supply methods for identifying and solving problems. The problem of realizing the democratic ideal under modern social conditions is not only an instance of pragmatist inspired social science, pragmatists would also argue that it is the political context for practical inquiry today, now all the more pressing with the political problems of globalization. Despite weaknesses in the pragmatist idea of social science as the reflexive practical knowledge of praxis, a pragmatic interpretation of critical social inquiry is the best way to develop such practical knowledge in a distinctly critical or democratic manner. That is, the accent shifts from the epistemic superiority of the social scientist as expert to something based on the wider social distribution of relevant practical knowledge; the missing term for such a practical synthesis is what I call “multiperspectival theory.” As an example of this sort of practical inquiry, I discuss democratic experiments involving “minipublics” and argue that they can help us think about democracy in new, transnational contexts.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): critical theory; democracy; globalization; pragmatism; public sphere
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