Deliberative Democracy Essay Sample — Thepoetrytrust
M. de Tocqueville is unable to imagine that a progress, which has continued with uninterrupted steadiness for so many centuries, can be stayed now. He assumes that it will continue, until all artificial inequalities shall have disappeared from among mankind; those inequalities only remaining which are the natural and inevitable effects of the protection of property. This appears to him a tremendous fact, pregnant with every conceivable possibility of evil, but also with immense possibilities of good: leaving, in fact, only the alternative of democracy or despotism; and unless the one be practicable, the other, he is deliberately convinced, will be our lot.
Deliberative democracy: Essays on reason and politics
Habermas's discourse theory of law and politics. Thecentral task of Habermas's democratic theory is to provide anormative account of legitimate law. His deliberative democratic modelrests on what is perhaps the most complex argument in his philosophicalcorpus, found in his Between Facts and Norms (1996b; Germaned., 1992b; for commentary, see Baynes 1995; Rosenfeld and Arato 1998;vom Schomberg and Baynes 2004). Boiled down to its essentials, however,the argument links his discourse theory with an analysis of the demandsinherent in modern legal systems, which Habermas understands in lightof the history of Western modernization. The analysis thus begins witha functional explanation of the need for positive law in modernsocieties. This analysis picks up on points he made in TCA(see sec. 3.1 above).
On the other hand, the democratic principle lies at a different levelfrom principles like (U), as Habermas himself emphasizes (1996b,110). The latter specify (D) for this or that single type of practicaldiscourse, in view of internal cognitive demands on justification,whereas the former pulls together all the forms of practical discourseand sets forth conditions on theirexternal institutionalization. From this perspective, thedemocratic principle acts as a bridge that links the cognitive aspectsof political discourse (as a combination of the different types ofidealized discourse) with the demands of institutional realization incomplex societies. As such, the democratic principle should refer notto consensus, but rather to something like a warranted presumption ofreasonableness. In fact, in a number of places Habermas describesdemocratic legitimacy in just such terms, which we might paraphrase asfollows: citizens may regard their laws as legitimate insofar as thedemocratic process, as it is institutionally organized and conducted,warrants the presumption that outcomes are reasonable products of asufficiently inclusive deliberative process of opinion- andwill-formation (2008, 103). The presumption of reasonable outcomesthus rests not so much on the individual capacities of citizens to actlike the participants of ideal discourse, but rather on the aggregatereasonableness of a “subjectless communication” thatemerges as the collective result of discursive structures—theformal and informal modes of organizing discussion (1996b,184–86, 301, 341). This means that democracy is“decentered,” no longer fully under control of its ownconditions and no longer based on a congruent subject ofself-legislating discourse.