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John S. Dryzek on Deliberative Democracy - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 144
Deliberative democracy/Dryzek: Though democracy comes in many varieties, the dominant current in democratic theory is now a deliberative one. Indeed, it is accurate to say that around 1990 the theory of democracy took a deliberative turn. Thus different accounts of democracy can be appraised in terms of the content, strength, and significance of their relation to the deliberative turn - whether in support, opposition, capture, or qualification.
With the deliberative turn, the core of democratic legitimacy became instead the right or ability of
those subject to a public decision to participate in genuine deliberation (see Manin, 1987(1); Cohen, 1989(2); the term 'deliberative democracy' was first used by Bessette, 1980(3)).
Gaus I 145
The deliberative turn in democratic theory occurred in the early 1990s. However, it does have antecedents, reaching back to Aristotle and the Athenian polis, and encompassing conservatives such as Edmund Burke (for whom deliberation connoted mature reflection as opposed to hasty action), as well as liberals such as John Stuart Mill and John Dewey (for a good history, see the introduction to Bohman and Rehg, 1997(4)). There are also continuities in emphasis with participatory democrats such as Carole Pateman (1970)(5) who were dissatisfied with the lack
of opportunity for deep democratic experience in contemporary liberal democracies. >Participation/Pateman, >Democratic theory/Pateman.
Benjamin Barber's (1984)(6) 'strong democracy' can be seen in retrospect as a bridge between participatory and deliberative democracy, given his emphasis on 'strong democratic talk'. >Participation/Barber, >Democratic theory/Barber.
Authenticity: deliberation). The reflective aspect means that preferences, judgements and views that are taken as fixed in aggregative models are treated as amenable to change in deliberation. Authenticity is therefore a central concern: democratic control should ideally be substantive not symbolic, involving uncoerced communication among competent participants (...). The importance of the deliberative turn was confirmed in the 1990s by the announcements of the most important liberal theorist John Rawls, and critical theorist Jürgen Habermas, that they were deliberative democrats (Rawls, 1993(7); 1997(8): 771-2; Habermas, 1996(9)).
Given the sheer number of democratic theorists who now sail under the deliberative flag, as well as the historically different schools of thought from which they come (conservatism, liberalism, and
critical theory), there really ought to be substantial variety among deliberative democrats. But what is now striking is less the variety than the uniformity. The assimilation happened in three ways (see Dryzek, 2000(10): 10—17). First, a commitment to deliberative principles can be used to justify some (but not all) of the rights long cherished by liberals.
Other theorists emphasize deliberation in courts rather than legislatures (for example, Rawls, 1993(7): 231).
Gaus I 146
Liberalism/democracy: [e.g, in later Habermas] there is no recognition of any need to democratize the economy, the administrative state, or the legal system, all of which receive easy legitimacy. >Deliberative democracy/Habermas.
Dryzek: However invigorating this assimilation of deliberative democracy might be for liberalism, it may be bad news for democracy. Some deliberative liberals are not especially democratic. Notably, Rawls in the end wants to entrust deliberation to experts in public reason such as Supreme Court justices, who only need to deliberate in the personal as opposed to the interactive sense of the word (see Goodin, 2000(11), for an explicit defence of personal as opposed to interactive deliberation). >Deliberative democracy/Rawls.
VsDeliberative democracy: see >Democracy/Schumpeter.


1. Manin, Bernard (1987) 'On legitimacy and political deliberation'. Political Theory, 15: 338—68.
2. Cohen, Joshua (1989) 'Deliberation and democratic legitimacy'. In Alan Hamlin and Philip Pettit, eds, The Good Polity: Normative Analysis of the State. Oxford: Blackwell.
3. Bessette, Joseph M. (1980) 'Deliberative democracy: the majoritarian principle in republican government'. In Robert A. Goldwin and William A. Shambra, eds, How Democratic is the Constitution? Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute.
4. Bohman, James and William Rehg (1997) Deliberative Democracy: Essays on Reason and Politics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
5. Pateman, Carole (1970) Participation and Democratic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
6. Barber, Benjamin (1984) Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
7. Rawls, John (1993) Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.
8. Rawls, John (1997) 'The idea of public reason revisited'. University ofChicago Law Review, 94: 765-807.
9. Habermas, Jürgen (1996) Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
10. Dryzek, John S. (2000) Deliberative Democracy and Beyond: Liberals, Critics, Contestations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
11. Goodin, Robert E. (2000) 'Democratic deliberation within'. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 29: 81—109.

Dryzek, John S. 2004. „Democratic Political Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Dryzek, John S.
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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