Randomly constituting representative deliberative assemblies: Dewey and Fishkin on the microcosm concept

Abstract
In several of John Dewey's works on education, including Democracy and Education and The School and Society, he models the ideal school after the ideal community, conceiving the former as a microcosm of the latter. More recently, James Fishkin in Democracy and Deliberation and The Voice of the People renders a deliberative poll design with an eye to making its randomly selected deliberators representative of much larger groups, and in this way microcosms of the population-at-large. Thus, the smaller group deliberates as if it were the much larger population assembled together to deliberate in mass-scale citizen assemblies. Although random selection is not widely accepted as a legitimate method for selecting political representatives (as, for instance, it was among the ancient Athenians), it has many desirable features, the most important of which is its ability to constitute bodies that resemble, and in this sense, represent larger populations. This last notion that smaller deliberative bodies can perform as if they are the larger populations represented-which I call the 'microcosm concept'-is not distinctly American, though many commentators trace it back to the musings of John Adams and some of the Anti-Federalists. In this paper, I argue that insights derived from Dewey's model of an educational microcosm can be appropriated and employed as resources to defend Fishkin's model of a deliberative microcosm against contemporary critics, such as Robert Goodin and Cass Sunstein. Besides defending Fishkin's deliberative poll design against its critics, I also argue that a Dewey-Fishkin partnership can help to improve actual deliberative institutions. I show how the Dewey-Fishkin microcosm concept operates in an actual deliberative event: the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, whereby a group of randomly-selected citizens were assembled and charged to deliver recommendations on whether to change the existing electoral system in the Canadian province of Ontario.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 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: 11,371
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

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-02-10

Total downloads

9 ( #159,606 of 1,102,845 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #182,775 of 1,102,845 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


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