Current democratic theory is dominated by the deliberative idea that in order to produce legitimate collective decisions, democratuc voting procedures must be accompanied by opportunities for public political deliberation. It is difficult to make sense of the idea of public deliberation without incorporating epistemic notions. Consequently, current democratic theories tend to be to some degree epistemic. But the very idea of epistemic democracy seems troubled, calling to mind the anti-democratic idea that only wisdom confers political legitimacy. This paper explores the problem of locating the epistemic dimension of political legitimacy, proposing the view that our first-personal epistemic aims provide individuals distinctive and powerful reasons to embrace democracy.
Robert Talisse is Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair at Vanderbilt University. He specializes in political philosophy; current research is focused on the intersection of democratic theory and social epistemology.