From a Culture of Civility to Deliberative Reconciliation in Deeply Divided Societies

Journal of Social Philosophy 49 (2):229-251 (2018)
Authors
Valentina Gentile
Luiss Guido Carli
Abstract
In deeply divided societies (DDS) – those having experienced episodes of ethnic or religious mass violence – thousands of survivors must confront the challenge of reconstructing their public identity, split between their tragic human experience as victims and their political obligations as citizens. They are required to cooperate precisely with those who are, in their eyes, responsible for the crimes perpetrated against them. Is liberal democratic theory able to respond to such deep divisions? Is democracy, even, compatible with the reconciliation that in these societies is a priority? Building on the idea that certain cultural conditions are important for securing the stability of liberal democracy, this paper presents an account of deliberative reconciliation appropriate to the context of DDS and which provides guidance in such circumstances of unmitigated pluralism. Deliberative reconciliation works with those elements of background culture that disclose some forms of civility within society. This is the culture of civility: a deliberative consensus, which enables former enemies to become part of a community of equals and to reciprocate on the basis of some shared political values, thus displaying support for liberal democratic institutions.
Keywords moral stability  deliberative politics  normative consensus  reconciliation  liberal democratic theory
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DOI 10.1111/josp.12237
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