Etica E Politica 12 (1):235-255 (2010)

Shane J. Ralston
Pennsylvania State University
Most contemporary deliberative democrats contend that deliberation is the group activity that transforms individual preferences and behavior into mutual understanding, agreement and collective action. A critical mass of these deliberative theorists also claims that John Dewey’s writings contain a nascent theory of deliberative democracy. Unfortunately, very few of them have noted the similarities between Dewey and Robert Goodin’s theories of deliberation, as well as the surprising contrast between their modeling of deliberation as a mixed monological-dialogical process and the prevalent view expressed in the deliberative democracy literature, viz., that deliberation is predominantly a dialogical process. Both Dewey and Goodin have advanced theories of deliberation which emphasize the value of internal, monological or individual deliberative procedures, though not to the exclusion of external, dialogical and group deliberation. In this paper I argue that deliberative theorists bent on appropriating Dewey’s theory of moral deliberation for political purposes should first consider Goodin’s account of ‘deliberation within’ as a satisfactory if not superior proxy, an account of deliberation which has the identical virtues of Dewey’s theory— imaginative rehearsal, weighing of alternatives and role-taking—with the addition of one more, namely, that it operates specifically within the domain of the political
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