Why Deliberative Democracy is (Still) Untenable

Ahlstrom-Vij, Kristoffer (2012) Why Deliberative Democracy is (Still) Untenable. Public Affairs Quarterly, 26 (3). pp. 199-220. ISSN 0887-0373. (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Abstract

Many political philosophers are attracted to the idea of a deliberative democracy, i.e., the idea that a healthy democracy is one where citizens regularly get together to deliberate. A common objection to deliberative democracy, however, is that available evidence on public ignorance suggests that people aren’t informed enough for social deliberation among the public to yield accurate outputs. In this paper, I reject two recent responses to this objection. The first response is that the correct conclusion to draw from the evidence is simply that we must work harder to ensure that the deliberative process improves the deliberators’ accuracy. The main problem for this response is that there are non-deliberative alternatives available—most prominently information markets, which offer people the opportunity to ‘bet’ on future events, and then generate a prediction in the form of a price signal—that do a better job from the point of view of accuracy than does social deliberation. So why keep bothering with deliberation? The second response attempts to answer this question by arguing that only socially deliberative practices can confer political legitimacy on the resulting policies, where a politically legitimate policy is one that we have reason to obey. In response to this, it is argued that information markets actually carry more promise than does social deliberation when it comes to offering the kinds of justifications that are relevant to legitimacy. That is why deliberative democracy is and remains untenable.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Philosophy
Depositing User: Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2012 14:21
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2014 11:22
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/31061 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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