This essay analyses optimal voting rules for one form of deliberative democracy. Drawing on public choice analysis, it is argued that (i) the voting rule that best institutionalises deliberative democracy is a type of a supermajority rule. Deliberative democracy is also committed to (ii) the standard neutrality condition according to which if x votes are enough to select alternative A, x votes must be enough to select not-A. Taken together, these imply that deliberative democracy will often be indeterminate. This result shows that deliberative democracy is ill-equipped to provide guidance as to how actual political disputes are to be legitimately resolved.
In this article I argue for a model of Deweyan 'critical pragmatism' as a therapeutic alternative to traditional models of deliberative democracy that have been crippled by their inheritance of the threadbare liberal/communitarian debate. By orienting my discussion here with respect to the most serious radical democratic challenges to deliberative democracy, I hope to show how Deweyan critical pragmatism may help us develop new approaches to the theory and practice of deliberation that are both more attuned to power relations than traditional models and make more inventive use of everyday life to pursue more meaningful deliberative opportunities for citizens.
The Role of the Judiciary in a Deliberative System
Donald Bello Hutt
This article examines systemic approaches in deliberative democracy and, within that context, rejects judicial supremacy, which is the finality with which courts of law authoritatively interpret constitutions. It concludes that, notwithstanding the
Testing the Limits of Deliberative Democracy
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.
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.
Rights, Democracy and Law
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.
A Market-based Approach to Address Garrett W. Brown's 'Deliberative Deficit' within the Global Fund
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.
Maurizio Passerin d'Entrèves
This article examines the question of justice in democratic constitutional states from the standpoint of a theory of deliberative democracy. Its aim is to show that the validity of a conception of justice and the legitimacy of political institutions and public policies based upon it can best be defended on the basis of a normative theory of deliberative democracy. This theory, I shall argue, is superior to the two main normative models of justification that appeal to the ideal of neutrality (Rawls, Larmore, Nagel) or to the ideal of perfectionism (Raz, Galston).
Feminist critiques of deliberative democracy have focused on the abstraction, impartiality and rationality of mainstream accounts of deliberation. This paper explores the claim, common to many of these critiques, that these features are problematic because they are gendered, and that a more women-friendly account of democracy would embrace corporeality, contextuality and the affective. While acknowledging the merit of such a claim, the paper nonetheless suggests that the pursuit of social justice and democratic inclusion actually leads many feminists to embrace a modified account of deliberative democracy, albeit in a modified account form. This can be explained by the dialogical conception of impartiality offered by theories of deliberative democracy. The paper suggests that the embrace of deliberative democracy by feminist theorists is a positive move, to be more widely acknowledged. Moreover, once acknowledged, feminists have much to offer deliberative democrats in terms of considering what the pursuit of dialogic impartiality might entail. If conceived as demanding both a 'lack of bias' and 'inclusivity', attention needs to be focused squarely on the issue of inclusion, and the institutional and material conditions for securing inclusion in deliberation.
The Concept of Secular Philosophical Grounding
Jaan S. Islam
discuss the pluralist-deliberation school of thinking. Inspired in part by Habermas’s discourse ethics and deliberative democracy as well as the need to come to global consensus amongst the infinitely diverse groups of moral, cultural, and legal thinking