This book describes a new method of consulting the public that has been tried successfully around the world. The book combines the theory of democracy with actual practice. Fishkin lays out a theory of "deliberative democracy" and shows with practical examples, how it can be realized.
Majority cycling and related social choice paradoxes are often thought to threaten the meaningfulness of democracy. But deliberation can prevent majority cycles – not by inducing unanimity, which is unrealistic, but by bringing preferences closer to single-peakedness. We present the first empirical test of this hypothesis, using data from Deliberative Polls. Comparing preferences before and after deliberation, we find increases in proximity to single-peakedness. The increases are greater for lower versus higher salience issues and for individuals who seem to have (...) deliberated more versus less effectively. They are not merely a byproduct of increased substantive agreement . Our results both refine and support the idea that deliberation, by increasing proximity to single-peakedness, provides an escape from the problem of majority cycling. (shrink)
Using data from a randomized field experiment within a Deliberative Poll, this paper examines deliberation’s effects on both policy attitudes and the extent to which ordinal rankings of policy options approach single-peakedness (a help in avoiding cyclical majorities). The setting was New Haven, Connecticut, and its surrounding towns; the issues were airport expansion and revenue sharing – the former highly salient, the latter not at all. Half the participants deliberated revenue sharing, then the airport; the other half the reverse. This (...) split-half design helps distinguish the effects of the formal on-site deliberations from those of other aspects of the treatment. As expected, the highly salient airport issue saw only a slight effect, while much less salient revenue-sharing issue saw a much larger one. (shrink)
This paper examines the potential role of deliberative democracy in constitutional processes of higher law-making, either for the founding of constitutions or for constitutional change. It defines deliberative democracy as the combination of political equality and deliberation and situates this form of democracy in contrast to a range of alternatives. It then considers two contrasting processes—elite deliberation and plebiscitary mass democracy as approaches to higher law-making that employ deliberation without political equality or political equality without deliberation. It finally turns to (...) some institutional designs that might achieve both fundamental values at the same time, or in the process of realizing a sequence of choices. (shrink)
Liberalism has often been viewed as a continuing dialogue about the relative priorities between liberty and equality. When the version of equality under discussion requires equalization of outcomes, it is easy to see how the two ideals might conflict. But when the version of equality requires only equalization of opportunities, the conflict has been treated as greatly muted since the principle of equality seems so meager in its implications. However, when one looks carefully at various versions of equal opportunity and (...) various versions of liberty, the conflict between them is, in fact, both dramatic and inescapable. Each version of the conflict poses hard choices which defy any systematic pattern granting priority to one of these basic values over the other. In this essay, I will flesh out and argue for this picture of fundamental conflict, and then turn to some more general issues about the kinds of answers we should expect to the basic questions of liberal theory. (shrink)
People around the world are agitating for democracy and individual rights, but there is no consensus on a theory of liberal democracy that might guide them. What are the first principles of a just society? What political theory should shape public policy in such a society? In this book, James S. Fishkin offers a new basis for answering these questions by proposing the ideal of a "self-reflective society"—a political culture in which citizens are able to decide their own fate through (...) unconstrained dialogue. Fishkin offers a comprehensive critique of liberal political theories that do not satisfy the requirements for a self-reflective society. He then explains his own theory of liberalism, showing that the freely self-examining society he advocates can provide the key to issues of political legitimacy and social justice. Fishkin proposes practical applications of his theory that would lead to more participatory democracy. Among these are deliberative opinion polls that would allow ordinary citizens to explore issues directly with candidates before elections, and vouchers that would allow them to organize representation for their interests. Fishkin examines a broad range of topics from the fresh perspective of a self-reflective society: utility and its limits, justice between generations, conflicting ideals of democracy, equal opportunity, the connections between theory and public policy, the notion of moral progress, and the bases for political obligation. His book makes a new contribution to central debates in moral, political, and legal philosophy. (shrink)
Converse's seminal 1964 article explored three crucial limitations of public opinion as it is revealed in conventional polls: information levels, belief systems, and nonattitudes. These limitations are significant from the standpoint of democratic theory, but it is possible to design forms of public consultation and of social?science research that will reveal what public opinion might be like if these limitations were somehow overcome. Deliberative Polling is an effort to explore the contours of such a counterfactual public opinion?one that is more (...) informed and engaged than is the mass public. Doing so requires going beyond ?polling alone.? (shrink)
Part I of this essay will be devoted to Gauthier's principle of minimax relative concession. Part II will focus, more generally, on the variety of possible strategies available to liberal theory. In Part I, I will argue that the principle of minimax relative concession does not define “essential justice” as Gauthier claims. In Part II, I will argue that the difficulties facing Gauthier's strategy are common to other strategies of die same general kind. I will close by suggesting what I (...) think may prove to be a more promising approach. (shrink)
This comment responds to Shapiro?s State of Democratic Theory. First, it argues that the map of democratic possibilities in the book, dividing forms of democracy into aggregative and deliberative, conflates and obscures important democratic alternatives. Second, I argue that one of the possibilities this map obscures, deliberation with aggregation, avoids the critique Shapiro directs at deliberative democracy. While some of his criticisms are appropriate to other categories, they do not apply to this one. Third, I argue that the empirical work (...) conducted under this category undermines Shapiro?s claims about how democracy can be expected to lead to violations of transitivity in actual practice. Fourth, I argue that there are other lines of defense for deliberative democracy in response to the combination of arguments that Shapiro offers in critique of deliberative democracy. (shrink)
Rather than respond to Gibbard, point by point, I will comment on what I take to be the general spirit of his argument. The old consensus on some form or another of utilitarianism, a consensus that dominated discussions in moral and political theory only a few years ago, has now largely evaporated before the heat of distributional objections founded on justice, the “separateness of persons,” and other concerns for the severe sacrifices that utilitarianism might require of some for the sake (...) of greater gains to others. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Contrary to Laurel Gleason 's assertions, Deliberative Polling among random samples is not a process that is dominated by?experts? or by certain categories of deliberator; it produces genuine gains among the participants in knowledge of information that has been verified as true and relevant; it does not cause ideological polarization; and it is not intended as a substitute for, rather than a supplement to, deliberation on the part of the general public.
Contrary to Laurel Gleason's assertions, Deliberative Polling among random samples is not a process that is dominated by “experts” or by certain categories of deliberator; it produces genuine gains among the participants in knowledge of information that has been verified as true and relevant; it does not cause ideological polarization; and it is not intended as a substitute for, rather than a supplement to, deliberation on the part of the general public.