Social Philosophy Today 33:55-72 (2017)

The aim of this paper is to elucidate a significant epistemic dimension of deliberative democracy. I argue that the role of citizens’ political judgments in deliberative democratic theory commits deliberative democracy to a view of deliberation as an essentially epistemic enterprise, one aimed at identifying correct answers to questions of political morality. This epistemic reading stands in contrast to prevailing views of deliberative democracy that tend to hold that the normatively significant function of deliberation is merely to legitimate democratic decisions, regardless of their substantive correctness. These views tend to regard any epistemic benefit of deliberation as a mere welcome side effect, ancillary to the aim of securing legitimacy. My argument, however, shows deliberative democratic legitimacy itself to depend on the epistemic success of deliberative procedures with respect to questions of political morality. I approach this argument by way of a contrast between deliberative democracy and the so-called aggregative conception of democracy. It will turn out that the important philosophical differences between the two views are located in their different conceptions of political participation and democratic legitimacy. I then go on to argue that the deliberative conceptions of participation and legitimacy give rise to an epistemic dimension which is generally underappreciated, but which is crucial to a proper understanding of deliberative democracy. I conclude that it is incumbent upon deliberative democrats to offer a compelling account of the epistemic value of deliberative procedures. The epistemic value of deliberation is not just a convenient epiphenomenon of deliberative democracy’s legitimation procedures. Rather, it is a necessary condition of those procedures playing their legitimating role at all.
Keywords Conference Proceedings  Social and Political Philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 1543-4044
DOI 10.5840/socphiltoday201753139
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,163
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Epistemic Democracy: Generalizing the Condorcet Jury Theorem.Christian List & Robert E. Goodin - 2001 - Journal of Political Philosophy 9 (3):277–306.
Against Deliberation.Lynn M. Sanders - 1997 - Political Theory 25 (3):347-376.
On Legitimacy and Political Deliberation.Bernard Manin - 1987 - Political Theory 15 (3):338-368.
Epistemic Democracy with Defensible Premises.Franz Dietrich & Kai Spiekermann - 2013 - Economics and Philosophy 29 (1):87--120.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Democratic Legitimacy and Proceduralist Social Epistemology.Fabienne Peter - 2007 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 6 (3):329-353.
Robust Deliberative Democracy.Daniel Layman - 2016 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 28 (3-4):494-516.
Why Deliberative Democracy is (Still) Untenable.Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij - 2012 - Public Affairs Quarterly 26 (3):199-220.


Added to PP index

Total views
19 ( #582,327 of 2,507,018 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #209,781 of 2,507,018 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes