Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 10, No 2 (2014)

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Making Public Policy Matter: The Hermeneutic Dimension

Paul Healy


The present paper seeks to show how recourse to the hermeneutic dimension is needed to correct for problems that beset Bent Flyvbjerg’s vindication of the “dialogical ideal” in Making Social Science Matter. It achieves this outcome both by elucidating the conditions needed to advance the dialogical ideal and by providing these with the requisite philosophical grounding. More theoretical benefits aside, this is intended to help further the praxically-oriented mission that Flyvbjerg assigns phronetic researchers, namely, to “contribute to establishing the conditions for dialogue where such conditions are not already present.” Moreover, through thus vindicating the merits of the hermeneutic approach as a needed complement to the phronetic, this paper also helps clarify how Gadamerian hermeneutics can contribute to the deliberative democracy debate, with which the present topic has strong affinities, a theme that has so far remained relatively underdeveloped in the literature.

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