Political Pluralism, Disagreement and Justice: The Case for Polycentric Democracy, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Political Pluralism, Disagreement and Justice

The Case for Polycentric Democracy, 1st Edition

By Julian F. Müller


230 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138228962
pub: 2019-07-01
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This book poses the question, how can we organize the society in such a way that our disagreement about facts and norms works to the benefit of everyone? In response, it makes the argument for polycentric democracy, a political arrangement consisting of various political units that enjoy different degrees of independence.

It is argued that to progress towards justice, we first need to change our attitude towards reasonable disagreement. Theorists have always viewed reasonable disagreement as nuisance, if not as a threat. However, this work puts forward that the diversity of perspectives which underlie reasonable disagreement, should be viewed as a resource to be harvested rather than a threat to be tamed. Resting on two key arguments, the author proposes the idea of polycentric democracy as the most capable method of making pluralism productive. The book explores what such a political order might look like and concludes that only an institutional system which is capable of profiting from diversity, such as polycentric democracy, might reasonably be expected to generate an overlapping consensus.

Continuing in the tradition of Karl Popper and Friedrich A. Hayek, this book lies at the intersection of philosophy, political economy and political theory. It will be of great interest to academics and scholars working in philosophy, politics and economics.


"This book brings together problems from political theory with tools from epistemology and economics to provide a very astute tour de horizon of a great deal of scholarship whose individual elements often remain out of touch with one another. One of the themes of the work is that diversity of judgment is a tool and not merely a problem. Müller shows how bringing together a diversity of ideas and approaches can help us understand problems about diversity itself." Fred D’Agostino, The University of Queensland

Table of Contents

List of Figures


Part I Escaping Modus Vivendi

1. The Model: Debating Friends

2. Rawls: Property Owning Democracy

3. Gutmann & Thompson: Deliberative Democracy

4. Buchanan: The Neoliberal State

5. Escaping Modus Vivendi: Summary

Part II How to Make Use of Diversity?

6. Diversity: Nuisance or Asset?

7. Deliberation and the Gains of Diversity

8. Polycentric Paradigm

Part III Polycentric Democracy

9. A Polycentric Political Order

10. The Argument for Polycentric Democracy

11. Concluding Remarks


About the Author

Julian F. Müller is a Research Associate at the University of Hamburg, Germany. He works at the intersection between political philosophy, social epistemology and political economy and his research into political disagreement has won several research awards.

About the Series

Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy

In recent years, there has been widespread criticism of mainstream economics. This has taken many forms, from methodological critiques of its excessive formalism, to concern about its failure to connect with many of the most pressing social issues. This series provides a forum for research which is developing alternative forms of economic analysis. Reclaiming the traditional 'political economy' title, it refrains from emphasising any single school of thought, but instead attempts to foster greater diversity within economics.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / Theory
PHILOSOPHY / Political