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Deliberation disputed: A critique of deliberative democracy.

Chappell, Zsuzsanna (2008) Deliberation disputed: A critique of deliberative democracy. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis critically re-examines deliberative democracy from a rational and social-choice-theoretic perspective and questions its dominance in current democratic theory. I define deliberative democracy as reasoned, inclusive, equal and other-regarding debate aimed at making decisions collectively. The thesis examines both procedural and epistemic justifications for deliberative democracy. Procedural justifications are based on the normative values that underpin the theory of deliberative democracy: reasoned debate, equality and inclusion. The epistemic justification of deliberative democracy states that it will arrive at better outcomes or the truth more often than other democratic procedures. I conclude that the justifications offered for the claim that the model of deliberative democracy is superior to other models of democracy are not solid enough to warrant the strength of the conclusions presented in the literature. The thesis also examines whether deliberation is likely to produce the positive consequences that its proponents ascribe to it by using findings from deliberative experiments, political science, psychology and other social sciences. I find that many assumptions about human nature and motivation that deliberative democrats make cannot be supported by empirical evidence. They do not sufficiently consider problems of instrumental rationality, cognitive limitations, self-interested behaviour and a lack of motivation to participate in highly resource intensive activities. Furthermore, the model of deliberative democracy is based on a very particular conception of politics. This conception is somewhat apolitical, requires a high level of popular participation and conflicts with other, more adversarial or interest-based conceptions of politics. Through these findings I challenge the dominant position of deliberative democracy in the current literature on democratic theory and argue in favour of a more comprehensive theory of democracy that puts more emphasis on other democratic mechanisms, such as representation or interest group politics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Government
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2340

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