The most widely debated conception of democracy in recent years is deliberative democracy--the idea that citizens or their representatives owe each other mutually acceptable reasons for the laws they enact. Two prominent voices in the ongoing discussion are Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson. In Why Deliberative Democracy?, they move the debate forward beyond their influential book, Democracy and Disagreement.What exactly is deliberative democracy? Why is it more defensible than its rivals? By offering clear answers to these timely questions, Gutmann and (...) Thompson illuminate the theory and practice of justifying public policies in contemporary democracies. They not only develop their theory of deliberative democracy in new directions but also apply it to new practical problems. They discuss bioethics, health care, truth commissions, educational policy, and decisions to declare war. In "What Deliberative Democracy Means," which opens this collection of essays, they provide the most accessible exposition of deliberative democracy to date. They show how deliberative democracy should play an important role even in the debates about military intervention abroad.Why Deliberative Democracy? contributes to our understanding of how democratic citizens and their representatives can make justifiable decisions for their society in the face of the fundamental disagreements that are inevitable in diverse societies. Gutmann and Thompson provide a balanced and fair-minded approach that will benefit anyone intent on giving reason and reciprocity a more prominent place in politics than power and special interests. (shrink)
Michael Ignatieff draws on his extensive experience as a writer and commentator on world affairs to present a penetrating account of the successes, failures, and prospects of the human rights revolution. Since the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, this revolution has brought the world moral progress and broken the nation-state's monopoly on the conduct of international affairs. But it has also faced challenges. Ignatieff argues that human rights activists have rightly drawn criticism from Asia, (...) the Islamic world, and within the West itself for being overambitious and unwilling to accept limits. It is now time, he writes, for activists to embrace a more modest agenda and to reestablish the balance between the rights of states and the rights of citizens.Ignatieff begins by examining the politics of human rights, assessing when it is appropriate to use the fact of human rights abuse to justify intervention in other countries. He then explores the ideas that underpin human rights, warning that human rights must not become an idolatry. In the spirit of Isaiah Berlin, he argues that human rights can command universal assent only if they are designed to protect and enhance the capacity of individuals to lead the lives they wish. By embracing this approach and recognizing that state sovereignty is the best guarantee against chaos, Ignatieff concludes, Western nations will have a better chance of extending the real progress of the past fifty years. Throughout, Ignatieff balances idealism with a sure sense of practical reality earned from his years of travel in zones of war and political turmoil around the globe.Based on the Tanner Lectures that Ignatieff delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values in 2000, the book includes two chapters by Ignatieff, an introduction by Amy Gutmann, comments by four leading scholars--K. Anthony Appiah, David A. Hollinger, Thomas W. Laqueur, and Diane F. Orentlicher--and a response by Ignatieff. (shrink)
In America today, the problem of achieving racial justice--whether through "color-blind" policies or through affirmative action--provokes more noisy name-calling than fruitful deliberation. In Color Conscious, K. Anthony Appiah and Amy Gutmann, two eminent moral and political philosophers, seek to clear the ground for a discussion of the place of race in politics and in our moral lives. Provocative and insightful, their essays tackle different aspects of the question of racial justice; together they provide a compelling response to our nation's most (...) vexing problem.Appiah begins by establishing the problematic nature of the idea of race. He draws on the scholarly consensus that "race" has no legitimate biological basis, exploring the history of its invention as a social category and showing how the concept has been used to explain differences among groups of people by mistakenly attributing various "essences" to them. Appiah argues that, while people of color may still need to gather together, in the face of racism, under the banner of race, they need also to balance carefully the calls of race against the many other dimensions of individual identity; and he suggests, finally, what this might mean for our political life.Gutmann examines alternative political responses to racial injustice. She argues that American politics cannot be fair to all citizens by being color blind because American society is not color blind. Fairness, not color blindness, is a fundamental principle of justice. Whether policies should be color-conscious, class conscious, or both in particular situations, depends on an open-minded assessment of their fairness. Exploring timely issues of university admissions, corporate hiring, and political representation, Gutmann develops a moral perspective that supports a commitment to constitutional democracy.Appiah and Gutmann write candidly and carefully, presenting many-faceted interpretations of a host of controversial issues. Rather than supplying simple answers to complex questions, they offer to citizens of every color principled starting points for the ongoing national discussions about race. (shrink)
In modern pluralist societies, political disagreement often reflects moral disagreement, as citizens with conflicting perspectives on fundamental values debate the laws that govern their public life. Any satisfactory theory of democracy must provide a way of dealing with this moral disagreement. A fundamental problem confronting all democratic theorists is to find a morally justifiable way of making binding collective decisions in the face of continuing moral conflict.
The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues released its first report, New Directions: The Ethics of Synthetic Biology and Emerging Technologies, on December 16, 2010.1 President Barack Obama had requested this report following the announcement last year that the J. Craig Venter Institute had created the world’s first self-replicating bacterial cell with a completely synthetic genome. The Venter group’s announcement marked a significant scientific milestone in synthetic biology, an emerging field of research that aims to combine the knowledge (...) and methods of biology, engineering, and related disciplines in the design of chemically synthesized DNA to create organisms with novel or enhanced .. (shrink)
Moral disagreement about public policies—issues such as abortion, affirmative action, and health care—is a prominent feature of contemporary American democracy. Yet it is not a central concern of the leading theories of democracy. The two dominant democratic approaches in our time—procedural democracy and constitutional democracy—fail to offer adequate responses to the problem of moral disagreement. Both suggest some elements that are necessary in any adequate response, but neither one alone nor both together are sufficient. We argue here that an adequate (...) conception of democracy must make moral deliberation an essential part of the political process. What we call “deliberative democracy” adds an important dimension to the theory and practice of politics that the leading conceptions of democracy neglect. (shrink)
This book makes a significant contribution to the tradition of liberal political theory: it explores the foundations and limits of the idea of equality within that theory and offers a sustained argument for a persuasive new view of liberalism. Liberal thinking has always displayed a tension between the claims of liberty and those of equality. Professor Gutmann examines the contributions of liberal theorists from Locke to Rawls on the subject of two kinds of equality - equality of opportunity to participate (...) and the equal distribution of economic goods. Valuing both, she shows that, far from being alternatives, the two ideals are compatible to a much greater degree than has previously been thought. Liberal Equality restores egalitarianism to political theory in a way that will forcefully challenge its critics to deeper reflection. (shrink)
Tous les théoriciens de la démocratie ont à confronter le problème fondamental qui consiste à trouver une façon moralement justifiable de prendre des décisions collectives contraignantes face à des désaccords moraux persistants. Une théorie délibérative de la démocratie nous fournit l’approche la mieux défendable de ce problème parce qu’elle laisse ouverte la possibilité que les valeurs morales exprimées par un large éventail de théories puissent être justifiables. Le principe fondamental de notre théorie délibérative est que les citoyens doivent se justifier (...) réciproquement les lois qu’ils s’imposent mutuellement. Les citoyens ou leurs représentants offrent des raisons les uns aux autres dans un processus permanent de justification mutuelle. Les principes qui guident ce processus sont provisoires moralement et politiquement et permettent donc la persistance du désaccord moral à propos de lois, de politiques et d’institutions tout en ouvrant la possibilité de l’accord moral sur les lois, politiques et institutions qui sont mutuellement justifiables.All democratic theorists confront the fundamental problem of finding a morally justifiable way of making binding collective decisions in the face of continuing moral disagreement. A deliberative theory of democracy provides the most defensible approach to this problem because it leaves open the possibility that the moral values expressed by a wide range of theories may be justifiable. The fundamental principle of our deliberative theory is that citizens owe one another justifications for the laws they collectively impose on one another. Citizens or their accountable representatives offer reasons to one another in an ongoing process of mutual justification. The principles that guide this process are morally and politically provisional, and thus allow for the persistence of moral disagreement about laws, policies, and institutions, and at the same time for the possibility of moral agreement about those that are mutually justifiable. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism continues to serve as a rich source of moral and theoretical insight. This collection of articles by top scholars offers fresh interpretations of Mill's ideas about happiness, moral obligation, justice, and rights. Applying contemporary philosophical insights, the articles challenge the conventional readings of Mill, and, in the process, contribute to a deeper understanding of utilitarian theory as well as the complexity of moral life.