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Civil Disobedience and Terrorism

Testing the Limits of Deliberative Democracy

Michael Allen

This article explores the boundaries of the commitment of deliberative democrats to communication and persuasion over threats and intimidation through examining the hard cases of civil disobedience and terrorism. The case of civil disobedience is challenging as deliberative democrats typically support this tactic under certain conditions, yet such a move threatens to blur the Habermasian distinction between instrumental and communicative action that informs many accounts of deliberative democracy. However, noting that civil disobedience is deemed acceptable to many deliberative democrats so long as it remains 'relevantly tied to the objective of communicative action', Allen holds that certain kinds of terrorism cannot be ruled out either. Whilst acknowledging that the deliberative democrat cannot really justify taking life as a tactic to induce deliberation, as 'dead people cannot deliberate', Allen notes that this does not rule out terrorism per se, the object of which is not death so much as generating overwhelming fear. Further, while a permanent condition of fear would set limits on deliberation, limited and temporary physical harm to persons need not. This implies that deliberative democrats must explain why intentionally causing some physical harm to property or persons is always an illegitimate form of communication.

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The Deliberative Potential of Facultative Referendums

Procedure and Substance in Direct Democracy

Alice el-Wakil

“Nothing … could be more antithetical than deliberative democracy and referendums.” John Parkinson, “Beyond ‘Technique’” As the use of popular votes for making political decisions becomes more common around the world, the question of the democratic

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Dethroning Deliberation

A Response to Caspary

Jeff Jackson

also takes a somewhat different view on the relationship of participatory democracy to deliberative democracy (which I present as largely different theories), stating that he seeks “to clarify [participatory democracy’s] continuities with deliberative

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Christopher F. Zurn

This paper argues that, according to a specific conception of the ideals of constitutional democracy - deliberative democratic constitutionalism - the proper function of constitutional review is to ensure that constitutional procedures are protected and followed in the ordinary democratic production of law, since the ultimate warrant for the legitimacy of democratic decisions can only be that they have been produced according to procedures that warrant the expectation of increased rationality and reasonability. It also contends that three desiderata for the institutionalization of the function of constitutional review follow from this conception: structural independence, democratic sensitivity and the maintenance of legal integrity. Finally, evaluating three broadly different ways of institutionalizing constitutional review - solely in appellate courts, in deliberative constitutional juries of ordinary citizens and in a combined system of constitutional courts and civic constitutional amendment fora - it argues that the third arrangement would perform best at collectively fulfilling the sometimes antithetical desiderata.

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Participation without Deliberation

The Crisis of Venezuelan Democracy

Nicole Curato

The legacy of Hugo Chavez is contentious. Some lament the deterioration of Venezuelan democracy from one of Latin America's most stable political systems to a populist authoritarian regime. Others celebrate Chavez's participatory project of institutionalizing structures for community-driven development, redistributing oil wealth through welfare policies, and creating a political party closely linked to mass movements. This article provides an alternative assessment of Venezuela's democratic quality by drawing on deliberative democratic theory. I argue that Chavez's participatory project is incomplete because it fails to create structures for deliberative politics. Without these mechanisms, Venezuela remains vulnerable to crises brought about by “uncivil action,” such as military coups and violent protests, making deliberation an important component in averting crises in democratizing polities.

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The Wrath of Thrasymachus

Value Irrationality and the Failures of Deliberative Democracy

Michael J. Thompson

I present a critique of deliberative democratic theory by arguing that deliberative and discourse-based theories of democracy suffer from what I term 'deliberative failures', which are the result of cognitive distortions of the capacity of individuals to articulate reasonable claims. I call value irrationality that condition where individuals express arguments and receive information biased by certain values and value-orientations that remain untouched by deliberative encounters. Values are irrational when any agent becomes unable to call them into question and when they come to bias the way we process information about the world as well as our own arguments. This results in what I term 'epistemological warping' or the systemic biasing of our epistemic capacities to evaluate information, the arguments of others, inhibiting our knowledge about the world, ourselves and others. I put forward an alternative direction for democratic theorists to move, back to the questions of social structure, forms of socialisation and their ability to shape the value-orientations of individuals.

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Andrea Felicetti

This article analyzes contemporary democracies from a deliberative democratic standpoint and focuses on the connection between public and empowered spaces. The idea of deliberative systems and the concept of “transmission” are introduced to discuss the ways in which the public is able to affect the empowered spaces. While elections perform important democratic functions, alone they cannot provide a good quality means for connecting deliberation in the public to that of actors in the empowered space. The problem with transmission is exacerbated to the extent that alternative forms of participation are neglected. The limited ability of the public to affect the empowered space in deliberative and democratic ways contributes to the crisis of democratic systems. One solution to this problem is to acknowledge the role of citizens' deliberation. The article argues for the systematic introduction of spaces for citizens' deliberation that would parallel existing decision-making.

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Systematizing Democratic Systems Approaches

Seven Conceptual Building Blocks

Rikki Dean, Jonathan Rinne, and Brigitte Geissel

The notion that democracy is a system is ever present in democratic theory. However, what it means to think systemically about democracy (as opposed to what it means for a political system to be democratic) is under-elaborated. This article sets out a meta-level framework for thinking systemically about democracy, built upon seven conceptual building blocks, which we term (1) functions, (2) norms, (3) practices, (4) actors, (5) arenas, (6) levels, and (7) interactions. This enables us to systematically structure the debate on democratic systems, highlighting the commonalities and differences between systems approaches, their omissions, and the key questions that remain to be answered. It also enables us to push the debate forward both by demonstrating how a full consideration of all seven building blocks would address issues with existing approaches and by introducing new conceptual clarifications within those building blocks.

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Tetsuki Tamura and Yasuko H. Kobayashi

This article attempts to view the idea of a “crisis of democracy” through a lens of individualization of the society. As the consequence of the impact of the individualization on existing liberal democracy, new forms of niggling democracy have been emerging. This article maps varieties of such emerging democracies in contemporary Japanese society.

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Deliberative Safeguards and Global Governance

A Market-based Approach to Address Garrett W. Brown's 'Deliberative Deficit' within the Global Fund

Alejandro Agafonow

Garrett W. Brown has argued that donor voting caucuses produce a deliberative deficit between donor and non-donor members in the Global Fund International Board. Although we agree with this assessment, in our research on low-transaction cost alternatives to cope with consistent deliberative conditions (i.e. low-cost arrangements to bring about the exchange among Board members in a certain way) we have found that deliberation and interest-based preference maximisation are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as long as we manage to stop donor members from behaving like monopolists. To this end, we have to open up the Board from its present state of non-transparency, so that new input can be obtained from new constituents. This will also soften the current principal-agent structure that links members to their donors, easing the transition to market-driven governance rules that provide for the replacement of Board members if they do not fulfil the new constituents' expectations.