Complexity and deliberative democracy

Inquiry 39 (3 & 4):359 – 397 (1996)
Abstract
Communism may be dead, but a quasi?Marxist critique of liberal democracy survives in the writings of a number of thinkers ? most notably, David Miller and John Dryzek ? who deplore the self?centered apathy of their fellow citizens and defend the radical ideal of deliberative democracy. Inspired mainly by Rousseau and Habermas, this emergent school of thought argues for a more participatory system where the public interest takes precedence over private interest, and where rational argument replaces cynical manipulation. The paper questions whether the deliberative model can cope with the incalculable complexity of modern society. Deliberative democracy, it is contended, rests on doubtful metaphysical assumptions, a blinkered approach to empirical evidence, and a common misapprehension about the nature of political argument
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