Consensus and power in deliberative democracy

Inquiry 49 (3):265 – 289 (2006)
How does public discussion contribute to the reasonableness with which power is exercised in a democracy? Contemporary answers to this question (such as formulated by Rawls or Habermas), are often based upon two interconnected preconceptions. These are, 1. the idea that the value of public discussion lies primarily in the fact that citizens can reach a reasonable consensus through argumentation and discussion and, 2. the belief that the exercise of power is legitimate only if it is determined by a reasonable consensus among citizens. In this sense, 'reasonable consensus among citizens' eliminates, under ideal conditions, the 'autonomy' of the exercise of power. However, these ideals of democracy appear to conflict with certain aspects of democratic society; aspects, moreover, which we tend to value quite highly. I therefore advance an alternative account of the reasonableness of power in democratic societies; one which acknowledges both the characteristically unlimited scope of public discussion in democratic society and the fact that such discussion rarely or perhaps even never ends in a general consensus. In order to elucidate the democratic character of society we must explain the relationship between discussion and power in such a way that we understand both the need for discussion and the necessity of an autonomous exercise of power.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 12,986
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Bruce Ackerman (1989). Why Dialogue? Journal of Philosophy 86 (1):5-22.
James Bohman (1998). Introduction. Modern Schoolman 75 (2):85-86.

View all 35 references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

42 ( #47,485 of 1,410,004 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #46,150 of 1,410,004 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.