|Abstract||As Joshua Cohen observes, “[t]he notion of a deliberative democracy is rooted in the intuitive idea of a democratic association in which the justification of the terms and conditions of association proceeds through public argument and reasoning among citizens” (1989: 21). Deliberative democrats insist that this deliberation must be public in a radical sense: only reasons that can be embraced by all of us are truly public, and hence justificatory. As Gerald Postema has put it, a public reason must be a shared reason (1995b: 70). Postema, and most deliberative democrats, insist that this idea of public, shared reasoning, is not simply a theoretical commitment, but a regulative aim of practical politics: “[a]greement among members of the community is set as the openended task or project of ...[the] exercise of practical reason and judgment”(Postema, 1995a: 356). Thus “[t]he aim of the regulative idea is agreement of conviction on the basis of public reasons uttered as assessed in public discourse...” (Postema, 1995a: 356). Of course advocates of deliberative democracy are well aware that complete actual consensus is not a reasonable aim “even under ideal conditions” (Postema, 1995a: 356). The deliberations of citizens may not yield a consensus, and so we may have to cut the discussion off by taking a vote (Postema, 1995a: 356). Habermas’ view is more complex. His “two-track” conception of deliberative politics conceives of an interplay between democratic procedures and deliberative collective will formation: the procedures do not..|
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