Why Deliberative Democracy?

Why Deliberative Democracy?

Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Why Deliberative Democracy?
    Book Description:

    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. InWhy 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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2633-9
    Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. 1 What Deliberative Democracy Means
    (pp. 1-63)

    To go to war is the most consequential decision a nation can make. Yet most nations, even most democracies, have ceded much of the power to make that decision to their chief executives—to their presidents and prime ministers. Legislators are rarely asked or permitted to issue declarations of war. The decision to go to war, it would seem, is unfriendly territory for pursuing the kind of reasoned argument that characterizes political deliberation.

    Yet when President George W. Bush announced that the United States would soon take military action against Saddam Hussein, he and his advisors recognized the need to...

  5. 2 Moral Conflict and Political Consensus
    (pp. 64-94)

    When citizens reasonably disagree about the morality of a public policy, on what principles can they agree to conduct their public life? The hope of liberal political theory, and the basis of the most common solution to the problem of moral conflict in a pluralist society, is that citizens can at least agree on principles that would remove decisions about a policy from the political agenda. Liberals typically invoke higher-order principles (such as neutrality or impartiality) that are intended to transcend disagreement on specific policies. These principles purport to determine which issues are appropriate subjects for public policy and which...

  6. 3 Deliberative Democracy beyond Process
    (pp. 95-124)

    Theories of deliberative democracy incorporate a set of principles that are intended to establish fair terms of political cooperation in a democratic society. Some theorists believe that the principles should inform only the process of making political decisions in government or civil society.¹ The principles of deliberative democracy, they argue, should not prescribe the content of the laws, but only the procedures (such as equal suffrage) by which laws are made and the conditions (such as free political speech) under which the procedures can be made to work fairly. These theorists, whom we call pure proceduralists, insist that democratic theory...

  7. 4 Why Deliberative Democracy Is Different
    (pp. 125-138)

    In modern pluralist societies, political disagreement often reflects moral disagreement, as citizens with conflicting perspectives on fundamental values debate the laws that govern their public life. Any satisfactory theory of democracy must provide ways of dealing with this moral disagreement. A fundamental problem confronting all democratic theorists is to find morally justifiable ways of making binding collective decisions in the face of continuing moral conflict.

    The solutions that most theorists propose make the problem seem more tractable than it is. Because their solutions require the rejection of rival theories, they discount much of the disagreement that gives rise to the...

  8. 5 Just Deliberation about Health Care
    (pp. 139-159)

    What standards should be used to assess the process of making decisions about health-care policy? These decisions are increasingly made not only in governmental institutions such as legislatures, courts, and presidential commissions but also in HMOs, hospitals, ethics committees, review boards, professional associations, and task forces. By focusing on a case study that involves decision-makers in a for-profit HMO, we show how a theory of deliberative democracy can be relevant to institutions that make important decisions concerning health care, even when those institutions are nongovernmental. We propose some generally applicable standards by which such decisions can be evaluated by both...

  9. 6 The Moral Foundations of Truth Commissions
    (pp. 160-188)

    As South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) began its public hearings, the newspaperThe Sowetanwarned, “Reconciliation that is not based on justice can never work.”¹ The paper was expressing not only a widely shared doubt about this particular commission, but also the most commonly voiced objection to truth commissions in general. Whether or not the South African effort at reconciliation will work, this commission, like other such institutions in other countries, carries a heavy moral burden. By the terms of their charters, these commissions sacrifice the pursuit of justice as usually understood for the sake of promoting other...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 189-206)
  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 207-208)
  12. Previous Works Jointly Authored by Amy Gutmann & Dennis Thompson
    (pp. 209-210)
  13. Index
    (pp. 211-217)