The Republic of Reasons: Public Reasoning, Depoliticization and Non-Domination
LEGAL REPUBLICANISM: NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES, pp. 102-120, S Besson and J-L Marti, eds., Oxford University Press, 2009
19 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2009 Last revised: 12 Jan 2010
Date Written: November 19, 2009
In their different ways, republican theorists all contrast a refi ned political process that is orientated towards public reasoning with a pluralist reading of the competitive party electoral system to be found in most advanced democracies. They argue that the latter can subvert the former in certain circumstances, so that electoral democratic processes must be constrained and depoliticised to some extent if public reason is to prevail. They suggest that such depoliticization produces a shift away from an aggregative view of democracy as reflecting the will of the people, to a more deliberative view of democracy that seeks to formulate policies that reflect shareable public reasons concerning the common good. This paper challenges this argument. It rests on an overly pessimistic view of actually existing democracy, on the one hand, and an excessively idealised view of public reason and the deliberative processes likely to achieve it, on the other.
Keywords: republicanism, democracy, constitutions
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