Deliberative Agonism and Agonistic Deliberation in Hannah Arendt

in Theoria
Giuseppe Ballacci Research Fellow, University of Minho, Portugal

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In the literature there are two well-established but opposite readings of Arendt: as an agonistic theorist and as a deliberative one. In between these two positions a smaller number of scholars have argued that in Arendt these two dimensions can to a large extent be reconciled. This paper follows this third path but tries to bring it one step further. In particular, it defends the idea that those scholars who have proposed this third reading of Arendt have fallen short of revealing the degree to which deliberation and agonism are, for her, interwoven. Through an original reading of Arendt's views on judgment, persuasion, distinction and Eichmann's banality, the paper clarifies why, for her, agonism and deliberation are not only compatible but actually mutually dependent. In other words, it clarifies why she believes that there can be no deliberation without agonism and no agonism without deliberation.

Contributor Notes

Giuseppe Ballacci is a research fellow at the Centre for Ethics, Politics and Society at the University of Minho. He holds a PhD in political theory from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and has been a visiting scholar at the Humboldt University of Berlin and University of Chicago, associate researcher of the Centre de Théorie Politique, at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and adjunct professor at the IE University (Madrid) and Vesalius College (Brussels). His areas of interest are contemporary political theory, history of political thought, democratic theory, political representation and rhetoric. Among his recent publications: Political Theory between Philosophy and Rhetoric: Politics as Transcendence and Contingency (Palgrave MacMillan 2018); ‘Representing Judgment – Judging Representation: Rhetoric, Judgment and Ethos in Democratic Representation’, Contemporary Political Theory (2018); ‘Richard Rorty's Unfulfilled Humanism and the Public/Private Divide’, Review of Politics (2017). E-mail:

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