Friday, July 13, 2018

Workshop with Habermas: The Future of Deliberative Democracy

Jürgen Habermas participated in a workshop on "The Future of Deliberative Democracy" at the University of Stuttgart, July 2, 2018.

See a report on the workshop here.

Excerpts from the report:
"A unique and fascinating workshop at the University of Stuttgart brought Jürgen Habermas in dialogue with leading deliberative democrats and framing scholars, including Jane Mansbridge, John Dryzek, Simone Chambers, Hélène Landemore, Maija Setälä and Rune Slothuus. Organized by André Bächtiger in collaboration with the IZKT (Internationales Zentrum für Kultur- und Technikforschung der Universität Stuttgart), the workshop aimed at clarifying longstanding conceptual issues while at the same time sketching future avenues for deliberative practice and research. The workshop was organized in connection with the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy (eds. André Bächtiger, John Dryzek, Jane Mansbridge and Mark Warren).

Conceptual issues
A first part of the workshop was dedicated to conceptual issues. Habermas partly contested a minimal (and pluralistic) conception of deliberative democracy, defining deliberation as “mutual communication that involves weighing and reflecting on preferences, values and interests regarding matters of common concern.” (Introduction to the Handbook). According to Habermas, such a minimal definition may be “too liberal” and “individualistic”, underestimating the importance of an inclusive and intersubjectively-shared argumentative process, where participants develop consensual and binding norms together. Such an inclusive and intersubjectively-shared process, so Habermas, is essential to produce legitimacy and social integration in modern societies where a commonly shared religious or moral frame is absent.

Epistemic dimensions of deliberative democracy
A second part of the workshop focused on the epistemic dimensions of deliberative democracy. In a fascinating exchange between Jürgen Habermas and Hélène Landemore, two visions of epistemic deliberation emerged: a fully proceduralist vision of epistemic advancement, on the one hand, where participants develop epistemically better answers in the deliberative process in a “co-creative” process (Habermas); and a more procedure-independent vision of epistemic advancement, on the other hand, where “truth” is given externally and is “discovered” by the participants in the deliberative process (Landemore).

The workshop ended with an emotional appeal by Jürgen Habermas to understand “the force of the better argument” as a key element to make democracies viable in the 21st century."

No comments: