David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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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.
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References found in this work BETA
Jürgen Habermas (1998). Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. The MIT Press.
Jürgen Habermas (1984). The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 1, 'Reason and the Rationalization of Society'. Polity..
John Rawls (1999). Collected Papers. Harvard University Press.
Richard Rorty (1991). Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth. Cambridge University Press.
Charles Taylor (1995). Philosophical Arguments. Harvard University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Tim Heysse (forthcoming). Power, Norms and Theory. A Meta-Political Inquiry. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-23.
Raf Geenens (2007). The Deliberative Model of Democracy: Two Critical Remarks. Ratio Juris 20 (3):355-377.
Caroline Mullen (2008). Representation or Reason: Consulting the Public on the Ethics of Health Policy. [REVIEW] Health Care Analysis 16 (4):397-409.
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