Is Experimentalism Possible?
What I really want to highlight is a passage I've just added to the sidebar, in which Geuss raises a difficult problem. He says:
"Politics depends, to a great extent, on judging what is actual relative to what is possible. [. . .] However, we have an inherently weak grasp of what is 'possible' and most societies are not set up so as naturally to improve this, or to make us aware of possibilities we may have ignored or taken with insufficient seriousness."And it is in this context that he advocates that political theorists cultivate an historical sensibility. The point is that history can expose us to possibilities we otherwise might not consider, even at the risk of temping us to implement possibilities whose time has, for various reasons, passed. Of course, there are other sources on which we might rely here - say literature or the arts. But that is not what I want to pursue.
Instead I want to ask whether we might "set up"societies in such a way that they do encourage the exploration of possibilities. Geuss is right, I think, that the institutional arrangements characteristic of most current societies are anemic in that respect. But the question remains as to whether it is possible to encourage experimentalism in social, political and economic arrangements.* Most of my writing and thinking these days presupposes that it is.
* An obvious corollary is how we might devise schemes to indemnify, as it were, those who bear the burnt of failed experiments.