Dewey and Goodin on the value of monological deliberation

Most contemporary deliberative democrats contend that deliberation is the group activity that transforms individual preferences and behavior into mutual understanding, agreement and collective action. A critical mass of political theorists committed to the value of democratic deliberation also claims that John Dewey's writings contain a nascent theory of deliberative democracy. Unfortunately, very few commentators have noted the similarities between Dewey and Robert Goodin's theories of deliberation, as well as the surprising contrast between their modeling of deliberation and the predominant view in the deliberative democracy literature. Both Dewey and Robert Goodin have advanced theories of deliberation which emphasize the value of internal, monological or individual deliberative procedures, rather than external, dialogical and group ones. What distinguishes Goodin and Dewey's conceptions of deliberation is that Dewey's concerns the psychological activity of imagining possible ways to solve moral problems, whereas Goodin's pertains to the process of internal consideration that precedes political dialogue and decision making, or 'deliberation within.' Despite this difference, Dewey's theory of moral deliberation appears to share more in common with Goodin's account of deliberation within than with the dialogical models widely embraced by contemporary deliberative democrats. So, if deliberative theorists truly want to appropriate Dewey's model of moral deliberation, then, I argue, they ought to reconsider Goodin's alternative (monological) account as a pragmatic strategy for sustaining the deliberative turn in democratic theory.
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