Making Deliberative Democracy a More Practical Political Ideal

Colin Farrelly
Queen's University
Deliberative democrats conceive of the democratic process as a transformative process, one that requires citizens to participate in authentic deliberation with others rather than engaging in the strategic behaviour characteristic of existing democratic practices. Current practices often pit factions of society against one another in a struggle to win or retain political power. The moralized conception of democracy defended by deliberative democrats is one that emphasizes the importance of being open-minded, reasonable and accommodating. These civic virtues are necessary if we are to treat others as equals when decisions are made concerning the use of political power, power that will influence the life prospects of everyone. Deliberative democrats are thus concerned with the normative legitimacy of a democratic decision; this legitimacy depends ‘on the degree to which those affected by it have been included in the decision-making processes and have had the opportunity to influence the outcomes’
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