Ideals of democratic participation and rational self-government have long informed modern political theory. As a recent elaboration of these ideals, the concept of deliberative democracy is based on the principle that legitimate democracy issues from the public deliberation of citizens. This remarkably fruitful concept has spawned investigations along a number of lines. Areas of inquiry include the nature and value of deliberation, the feasibility and desirability of consensus on contentious issues, the implications of institutional complexity and cultural diversity for democratic decision making, and the significance of voting and majority rule in deliberative arrangements.
The anthology opens with four key essays—by Jon Elster, Jürgen Habermas, Joshua Cohen, and John Rawls—that helped establish the current inquiry into deliberative models of democracy. The nine essays that follow represent the latest efforts of leading democratic theorists to tackle various problems of deliberative democracy. All the contributions address tensions that arise between reason and politics in a democracy inspired by the ideal of achieving reasoned agreement among free and equal citizens. Although the authors approach the topic of deliberation from different perspectives, they all aim to provide a theoretical basis for a more robust democratic practice.
Contributors: James Bohman, Thomas Christiano, Joshua Cohen, Jon Elster, David Estlund, Gerald F. Gaus, Jürgen Habermas, James Johnson, Jack Knight, Frank I. Michelman, John Rawls, Henry S. Richardson, Iris Marion Young.
About the Editors
James Bohman is Danforth Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University. He is the author, editor, or translator of many books.
William Rehg is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University. He is the translator of Jürgen Habermas's Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy (1996) and the coeditor of Deliberative Democracy: Essays on Reason and Politics and Pluralism (1997) and The Pragmatic Turn: The Transformation of Critical Theory (2001), all published by the MIT Press.