Public deliberation as separate or embedded: deweyan democracy and its relation to political liberalism
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionZackariasson, U. (2007). Public deliberation as separate or embedded: deweyan democracy and Its relation to political liberalism [Electronic Version]. Minerva, 11, 1-29, from http://www.mic.ul.ie/stephen/vol11/Dewey.html
This paper explores two different strategies that may be useful to give substance to Deweyan democracy’s claim that in order for democratic associations to develop into communities, citizens need to learn how to conduct inquiry in a social setting. The two strategies reflect a principal division among views of public deliberation. The first strategy, the separation strategy, closely resembles Rawls’ political liberalism by advocating the development of a separate sphere of public deliberation, guided by factual and normative assumptions that we need not accept anywhere outside that sphere. Comprehensive doctrines are to be held outside of public deliberation, a move which makes possible a rather straightforward application of Dewey’s theory of inquiry. The second strategy, the embeddedness strategy, stresses the fact that public deliberation is inevitably embedded in broader spheres of social life, and that the development towards community must be piecemeal, and go hand in hand with developments in social life as a whole. I argue that there are weighty reasons for doubting the feasibility of the separation strategy, and I also argue that these reasons are relevant for our evaluation of all versions of the separation strategy, including political liberalism. I conclude that one of Deweyan democracy’s most important assets, which deserves further examination, is its insight that reflection on public deliberation needs to take its embedded character into account.