Philosophy and Social Criticism 47 (1):22-25 (2020)

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In Democracy without Shortcuts, Cristina Lafont identifies proceduralist or ‘deep pluralist’ conceptions of democracy alongside epistemic and lottocratic approaches as shortcuts that avoid the more challenging but, in her view, preferable path of engaging with and attempting to sway competing views, values and beliefs of fellow citizens. I argue that with the wholesale dismissal of proceduralist accounts of democracy Lafont herself takes two shortcuts: The first concerns the characterization of deep pluralism as unable to explain substantive disagreement after a decision is settled, and the second undervalues proceduralism’s ability to evaluate and criticize the substance of the political decision-making process. While her critique is fitting for minimalist conceptions of proceduralism, a theory of normative proceduralism shares many objectives with Lafont’s vision of a participatory deliberative democracy. Integrating those approaches instead of dismissing proceduralism outright would render her project appealing to theorists who would not otherwise consider themselves deliberative democrats.
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DOI 10.1177/0191453720974732
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