8th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Marchettoni

Leonardo Marchettoni

Scorekeeping Semantics as a New Paradigm in Multiculturalist Political Theory

My aim in this paper is to compare traditional multiculturalist political theory as informed by the views of such authors as Rawls and Habermas with a new paradigm in which the usual political strategies for dealing with cultural diversities are replaced by the tools provided by scorekeeping semantics as developed by Robert Brandom. The upshot is the transition from a landscape which is highly demanding with respect to the common assumptions between different views of the world to a dialogical context in which contrasting beliefs can come into light more freely. In our multicultural societies we face the task of harmonizing several different practical codes: for example, as to the thorny issue of female genital mutilations, we have to decide whether apply our ‘western’ rules for which female genital mutilations are only a particular instance of personal injury or take into account traditional prescriptions that exert a normative force over the individuals involved in such kinds of practices. Similar problems arise in relation to some aspects of family law as heritage or divorce. In these cases, it is difficult to imagine how to adjudicate the clash between conflicting values. However, it seems important to provide a reassuring response to these requests without abandoning the universality of political principles. For these reasons cultural differences constitute a relevant problem for political theory and have aroused a vast amount of discussion in the last decades. The plan of this paper is as follows: in the first section I briefly review some common liberal strategies for dealing with cultural diversities and highlight some shortcomings commonly ascribed to this kind of approaches. In the second section I try to introduce some aspects of the deliberative reaction to the failures of liberal politics of cultural differences. In the third section I present some features of Robert Brandom’s inferential semantics. Finally, in the fourth section I attempt to illustrate how embracing the theory developed by Robert Brandom could assuage certain perceived awkward features of the deliberative model.