Deliberative Democracy and the Politics of Reconciliation

In David Kahane, Melissa Williams & Daniel Weinstock (eds.), Deliberative Democracy in Practice. Vancouver: UBC Press. pp. 115-137 (2010)
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The problem of historical injustice presents a deep challenge to the aspirations of deliberative democrats, especially to those “deliberative activists” who seek to advance deliberation in deeply unjust circumstances (Fung 2005, 399). But the debate over historical injustice can itself benefi t from taking a “democratic turn.” Much of the literature is dominated by arguments over historical entitlement theories of justice or by a legalistic focus on the possibilities for compensation and reparation.1 That much of it is deeply skeptical as well is no surprise given that focus. But what is striking about actual debates over historical injustice in the world today is their intensely political character, and this character needs to be theorized much more explicitly when thinking about the nature and consequences of historical injustice. One crucial aspect of political disagreement, as opposed to moral disagreement, is that it is not just the force of good reasons that is at issue but also the application of force itself, especially by the state. The conclusion of a political deliberation does not necessarily indicate that the other side is..



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Duncan Ivison
University of Sydney

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