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Richard Rorty’s idealization of public dialogue pits literature and narrative against objectivity and ethics, thus leaving non-intellectual practitioners in the lurch. The evolutionary arc of Rorty’s oeuvre merits an assessment of the historiography he uses to prevent figures like Michel Foucault and Cornel West from being full participants in public dialogue. Miranda Fricker’s account of the collective explains confidence and transparency in an ironized ethical tradition that mediates irony and objectivity. Fricker’s mediation positions West’s use of Foucault’s to re-narrate pragmatism as a way to embrace the process of rendering ethical experience universalizable. Ironized post-philosophical cultures can be explained responsibly by ironists within critically reflective ethical traditions. Confidence in pragmatism occurs when publics admit critical self-reflective inquiry from non-intellectuals.

In: Contemporary Pragmatism
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This article examines metaphysics as a method for religious thinking in public. Such a method invites criticism because 1) no one institution or population group can determine how well others use reason and 2) religious justifications for optimal reason-sharing emanate from privileged institutions. Reason is worth using and sharing when traditions share limit-questions. On what basis had the determination – that some use and share reason better than others – seemed plausible? Some scholars base their determination on appeals to metaphysics. The first part of this article introduces public theology’s origins in American civil religious discourse. The second part examines a foundational method for public reason. These parts establish a relationship between a description of public theology and an examination of its use of reason in David Tracy’s methodological justification of metaphysics. The third part shows how Afro-protestant thought mediates public and emancipatory reason by asking whose inquiry liberates and why.

In: International Journal of Public Theology
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Aggrieved religious practitioners often speak to God in public. Their demands of God elicit critical examination not least because they are irreverent and apathetic. The first part of this article explains the importance of hip hop culture to a democratic society through an analysis of Cornel West’s “danceable education”. The second part describes such an education as pious and playful. The next two parts examine how public prayers from a hip hop (part three) and gospel (part four) artist show how questioning God is a socially valuable way to come-of-age. Artists whose vocation is an act of protest against God-forsakenness and poor governance are exemplified in the invocations of those for whom respectability and redemption remain essential. The vocation of invocations in public stress the social value of loss and negation for reasons—maturation and playing—that make public God-talk good for groups that stubbornly need or actively ignore religious practices.

In: Journal of Black Religious Thought