Lindsey J. Schwartz, a doctoral candidate in the philosophy department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, will present “Social Equity and Reasonable Pluralism: Some Thoughts About Democratic Values and Fidelitous Representation.” Social equity and reasonable pluralism are both vague terms. They are increasingly cast as competing aims of good policy work, pitted against each other as conceptually incompatible, and characterized as key players in a pro- vs. anti-democratic struggle. Pluralism cannot account for fine-grained differences in the life experiences and resulting public interests of different groups of people the way that social equity does. Accounting for the difference between social equity and pluralism is vital to good representation and positive social outcomes. A focus on the value of social equity is preferable to a focus on the value of pluralism. Advocates argue that policy work that centers on the aims of social equity tends to make society more democratic than does policy work that centers on the value of pluralism.
In this talk, Schwartz pushes back on this narrative. She aims to offer some clarity on the concepts at issue, including social equity, reasonable pluralism, and democracy, and to offer some insight into what it means to represent all people with fidelity without undercutting, subverting, or eroding democratic principles.
Schwartz's research addresses questions of ethics and policy in criminal justice, education, and law. Her interests include thinking about how society is and ought to be disposed toward its members who have less than full agency as a matter of natural or social circumstance.