Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780226397986 Published December 2016
Cloth $105.00 ISBN: 9780226397849 Published December 2016
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A Democratic Theory of Judgment

Linda M. G. Zerilli

A Democratic Theory of Judgment

Linda M. G. Zerilli

400 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2016
Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780226397986 Published December 2016
Cloth $105.00 ISBN: 9780226397849 Published December 2016
E-book $35.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226398037 Published December 2016
In this sweeping look at political and philosophical history, Linda M. G. Zerilli unpacks the tightly woven core of Hannah Arendt’s unfinished work on a tenacious modern problem: how to judge critically in the wake of the collapse of inherited criteria of judgment. Engaging a remarkable breadth of thinkers, including Ludwig Wittgenstein, Leo Strauss, Immanuel Kant, Frederick Douglass, John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas, Martha Nussbaum, and many others, Zerilli clears a hopeful path between an untenable universalism and a cultural relativism that forever defers the possibility of judging at all.
           
Zerilli deftly outlines the limitations of existing debates, both those that concern themselves with the impossibility of judging across cultures and those that try to find transcendental, rational values to anchor judgement. Looking at Kant through the lens of Arendt, Zerilli develops the notion of a public conception of truth, and from there she explores relativism, historicism, and universalism as they shape feminist approaches to judgment. Following Arendt even further, Zerilli arrives at a hopeful new pathway—seeing the collapse of philosophical criteria for judgment not as a problem but a way to practice judgment anew as a world-building activity of democratic citizens. The result is an astonishing theoretical argument that travels through—and goes beyond—some of the most important political thought of the modern period.
 
Review Quotes
Jason Stanley, Yale University
“What is democratic political judgment? Does it require a standpoint of neutrality about normative truths? In this monumental work, Zerilli, combining both continental and analytic traditions in philosophy, gives a powerful case for the role of truth and objectivity in democratic political judgment, one attuned to the irreducible plurality of democratic societies. It is a vital contribution to what is arguably the central question of democratic political philosophy: What is democratic reasoning?”
John G. Gunnell, State University of New York at Albany
“Zerilli has presented an original and meticulous scholarly argument about the nature and possibilities of democratic judgment as well as about what might be construed as authentically political judgment in the context of a plural society. Her argument is lucidly and eloquently articulated, and it offers a pointed challenge to some of the dominant contemporary trends in the literature on democratic theory, particularly to the arguments about public reason that have been advanced by individuals such as John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas. Drawing creatively on the work of Kant and Arendt, Zerilli speaks to anyone concerned with the peculiarities of democratic deliberation and action, whether it takes place in formal institutional settings or in other dimensions of social life.”
Nadia Urbinati, Columbia University
“An elegant, beautifully written, and intelligent attempt to answer the fundamental question of fair evaluative judgments in a democratic polity. Zerilli argues that judgment that aims at fairness in a pluralist society does not need to be rendered as a merely procedural guide for adjudication among irreconcilable values. And she also argues that to make judgment a politically creative and reflecting function of evaluation does not necessarily entail falling into the trap of relativism or the identification of rationality with the reasons set forth by the winners in the game of politics. To solve these entrenched problems, Zerilli takes inspiration from Hannah Arendt, whose work guides her through a journey of interpretation and theoretical analysis that is absolutely brilliant.”
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