Cultural Rights and Deliberative Democracy

This paper examines the capacities of deliberative democracy as a decision-making mechanism in controversies concerning the cultural rights of minorities. It is claimed that existing views of public deliberation leave unanswered the question how to fit, by deliberative means, the cultural needs of culturally different communities into one and the same regulatory framework. The difficulty is that these needs are articulated in culturally specific frames of reference. Consequently, they are not commensurable in terms of their relative importance for the respective communities, and they cannot be referred to in arguments which would be recognized as valid by all the parties in the deliberation. The proposed solution proceeds from the differentiation between ethical-existential (also ethical-political) and moral questions which has been made by J . Habermas in discourse ethics. I explore the possibility of applying to ethical-existential discussion, which articulates a community's cultural needs, the standards of public deliberation, and of developing a quantitative measure of needs
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DOI 10.5840/wcp2120062115
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