Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Deliberative Democracy as Dispute Resolution: Conflict, Interests, and Reasons

73 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2009  

Hiro N. Aragaki

Loyola Law School (Los Angeles)

Date Written: September 29, 2009


In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the congruence between deliberative democracy and interest-based dispute resolution (or “IBDR”). To the IBDR community (of which I consider myself a part), these developments tell a larger story about IBDR’s social and political calling. Not satisfied with Owen Fiss’s famous critique of alternative dispute resolution as appropriate only for “quarrels between neighbors” and the like, IBDR theorists have sought to demonstrate the relevance of their discipline for broader questions about democratic citizenship and political design.

Deliberative democracy, broadly conceived, has for some time been viewed as IBDR’s natural ally in these and similar efforts. Both plainly emphasize the value of participatory, dialogic processes predicated on mutual respect and cooperation. And at first glance, both appear to believe in the benefits of interest-based problem solving. The perception of such common origins and normative commitments has generated a tremendous amount of optimism-especially from the IBDR side-about the potential for cross-pollination and collaboration between the two fields.

But in our enthusiasm to celebrate the synergy between IBDR and deliberative democracy, it strikes me that we may have failed to grapple with some foundational questions about the significant differences that set them apart. Is it so clear, for example, that deliberative democracy is a scaled-up model of dispute resolution - a sort of dispute resolution “writ large”‘ Do both fields regard interest-based problem solving in compatible ways‘ Many have posed these questions, but few have offered any detailed answers. This article focuses on IBDR and deliberative democracy’s differing orientations to conflict as a way to begin thinking more seriously about some of these questions.

Keywords: Negotiation, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Consensus Building, Democracy, Political Theory, Law

Suggested Citation

Aragaki, Hiro N., Deliberative Democracy as Dispute Resolution: Conflict, Interests, and Reasons (September 29, 2009). Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, Vol. 24, No. 3, p. 406, 2009. Available at SSRN:

Hiro N. Aragaki (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School (Los Angeles) ( email )

919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
(213) 736-1406 (Phone)
(213) 380-3769 (Fax)


Paper statistics

Abstract Views