On Settling

Princeton University Press
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In a culture that worships ceaseless striving, "settling" seems like giving up. But is it? On Settling defends the positive value of settling, explaining why this disdained practice is not only more realistic but more useful than an excessive ideal of striving. In fact, the book makes the case that we'd all be lost without settling--and that even to strive, one must first settle.

We may admire strivers and love the ideal of striving, but who of us could get through a day without settling? Real people, confronted with a complex problem, simply make do, settling for some resolution that, while almost certainly not the best that one could find by devoting limitless time and attention to the problem, is nonetheless good enough. Robert Goodin explores the dynamics of this process. These involve taking as fixed, for now, things that we reserve the right to reopen later (nothing is fixed for good, although events might always overtake us). We settle on some things in order to concentrate better on others. At the same time we realize we may need to come back later and reconsider those decisions. From settling on and settling for, to settling down and settling in, On Settling explains why settling is useful for planning, creating trust, and strengthening the social fabric--and why settling is different from compromise and resignation.

So, the next time you're faced with a thorny problem, just settle. It's no failure.

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About the author

Robert E. Goodin is professor of government at the University of Essex and distinguished professor of philosophy and social and political theory at Australian National University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Sep 16, 2012
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Pages
128
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ISBN
9781400845316
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / General
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / Social
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Robert E. Goodin
In recent years democratic theory has taken a deliberative turn. Instead of merely casting the occasional ballot, deliberative democrats want citizens to reason together. They embrace 'talk as a decision procedure'. But of course thousands or millions of people cannot realistically talk to one another all at once. When putting their theories into practice, deliberative democrats therefore tend to focus on 'mini-publics', usually of a couple dozen to a couple hundred people. The central question then is how to connect micro-deliberations in mini-publics to the political decision-making processes of the larger society. In Innovating Democracy, Robert Goodin surveys these new deliberative mechanisms, asking how they work and what we can properly expect of them. Much though they have to offer, they cannot deliver all that deliberative democrats hope. Talk, Goodin concludes, is good as discovery procedure but not as a decision procedure. His slogan is, 'First talk, then vote'. Micro-deliberative mechanisms should supplement, not supplant, representative democracy. Goodin goes on to show how to adapt our thinking about those familiar institutions to take full advantage of deliberative inputs. That involves rethinking who should get a say, how we hold people accountable, how we sequence deliberative moments and what the roles of parties and legislatures can be in that. Revisioning macro-democratic processes in light of the processes and promise of micro-deliberation, Innovating Democracy provides an integrated perspective on democratic theory and practice after the deliberative turn.
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