Deliberative Freedom: Deliberative Democracy as Critical Theory

SUNY Press
Free sample

In Deliberative Freedom, Christian F. Rostbøll accepts the common belief that democracy and freedom are intimately related, but he sees this relationship in a new and challenging way. Rostbøll argues that deliberative democracy is normatively committed to multiple dimensions of freedom, and that this, in turn, makes it a distinct model of democracy. He presents a new version of deliberative democracy that rejects the prevailing synthesis of Habermasian critical theory and Rawlsian political liberalism, and contends that this synthesis obscures and neglects important concerns in terms of freedom and emancipation. In addition, Rostbøll explores how the many dimensions of freedom supply a new and fruitful way to address issues such as paternalism, elitism, rationalism, and neutrality.
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About the author

Christian F. Rostbøll is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Jun 13, 2008
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Pages
322
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ISBN
9780791478226
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Political
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Democracy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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All over the world democratic reforms have brought power to the people-but under conditions where the people have little opportunity to think about the power that they exercise. Do we want a democracy inspired by Madison or by Madison Avenue? A democracy animated by deliberation or by manipulation? This book examines each of the principal democratic theories and makes the case for a democracy in which the people offer informed judgments about politics or policy. It then goes on to show how this form of democracy can be made a reality. When the People Speak describes deliberative democracy projects conducted by the author with various collaborators in the US, China, Britain, Denmark, Australia, Italy, Bulgaria, Northern Ireland, and in the entire European Union. These projects have resulted in the massive expansion of wind power in Texas, the building of sewage treatment plants to China, the crafting of budget solutions in a region in Italy, and greater mutual understanding between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. The book is accompanied by a DVD of "Europe in One Room" by Emmy Award documentary makers Paladin Invision in London. The film recounts one of the most challenging deliberative democracy efforts with a scientific sample from 27 countries speaking 21 languages. Critics of deliberative democracy say that it will privilege the more educated or that the public is incompetent when it comes to understanding policy issues, and should not be consulted. Others argue that it will increase polarization. Fishkin offers rebuttals for each of these arguments. Combining theory and practice he shows how a more deliberative politics is both practical and compelling.
The most widely debated conception of democracy in recent years is deliberative democracy--the idea that citizens or their representatives owe each other mutually acceptable reasons for the laws they enact. Two prominent voices in the ongoing discussion are Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson. In Why Deliberative Democracy?, they move the debate forward beyond their influential book, Democracy and Disagreement.

What exactly is deliberative democracy? Why is it more defensible than its rivals? By offering clear answers to these timely questions, Gutmann and Thompson illuminate the theory and practice of justifying public policies in contemporary democracies. They not only develop their theory of deliberative democracy in new directions but also apply it to new practical problems. They discuss bioethics, health care, truth commissions, educational policy, and decisions to declare war. In "What Deliberative Democracy Means," which opens this collection of essays, they provide the most accessible exposition of deliberative democracy to date. They show how deliberative democracy should play an important role even in the debates about military intervention abroad.



Why Deliberative Democracy? contributes to our understanding of how democratic citizens and their representatives can make justifiable decisions for their society in the face of the fundamental disagreements that are inevitable in diverse societies. Gutmann and Thompson provide a balanced and fair-minded approach that will benefit anyone intent on giving reason and reciprocity a more prominent place in politics than power and special interests.

Democratic equality entails a principle that everyone whose basic interests are affected by policies should be included in the process of making them. Yet individuals and groups often claim that decision making processes are dominated by only some of the interests and perspectives in the society. What are the ideals of inclusion through which such criticisms should be made, and which might guide more inclusive political practice? This book considers that question from the point of view of norms of democratic communication, processes of representation and association, and how wide the scope of political jurisdictions should be. Democratic theorists have not sufficiently attended to the ways processes of debate and decision making often marginalize individuals and groups because the norms of political discussion are biased against some forms of expression. Inclusion and Democracy broadens our understanding of democratic communication by reflecting on the positive political functions of narrative, rhetorically situated appeals, and public protest. It reconstructs concepts of civil society and public sphere as enacting such plural forms of communication among debating citizens in large-scale societies. The book considers issues of the scope of the polity at two levels: global and local. The scope of a polity should extend as wide as the scope of social and economic interactions that raise issues of justice. Today this implies the need for global democratic institutions. At a more local level, processes of residential segregation and the design of municipal jurisdictions often result in the ability for actions in one locale to affect those in other locales without those making the decisions having to include some of those affected in the decision making process. Metropolitan governments which preserve significant local autonomy may therefore be necessary to promote political equality.
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