Friday, December 02, 2011

Four Papers on Deliberation, Tolerance, Citizenship, and Self-Grounding

Papers from the 6th ECPR General Conference (European Consortium for Political Research) at the University of Iceland, August 25-27, 2011:

Marcos Engelken (Basque Country):
"A Collective Learning Perspective on Public Deliberation" [pdf]

Research on mini-publics, as well as in experimental settings, has produced ambiguous results for deliberative democracy. It has helped to demonstrate the “epistemic dimension” (Habermas) of public debate, that is, its inherent potentiality to change discursively citizens’ preferences and to promote collective learning processes. Furthermore, according to these results genuine public deliberation promotes the consideration of common interests, the revision of prejudices and respect towards political opponents. On the other hand, recent research has also highlighted the extremely selective conditions under which genuine deliberation can take place, thus spreading skepticism about the prospects of turning democratic deliberation into a real deliberative democracy. Besides, it has also revealed the inherent tension that exists between some of the core values constitutive of deliberative democracy – for instance, between the principle of publicity and the disposition of political actors to modify their initial opinions; between citizens’ empowerment and citizens’ disposition to revise their pre-deliberative preferences; or between deliberation and representation. This implies that no mini-public, irrespective of its institutional design, manages to satisfy simultaneously all the normative requirements of deliberative democracy. Systemic conceptions of, and rhetorical approaches to, deliberative democracy have been prompted by these considerations. A third way to conceptualize deliberative democracy is provided by the work of cognitive sociologists such as Klaus Eder, Max Miller, Piet Strydom or Bernhard Peters. Their work advances a sociologically realist, and complex, conception of public (macro) deliberation. This paper assesses the potentialities, but also possible pitfalls, of this sociological approach.

Sune Lægaard (Roskilde) & Maria Paola Ferretti (Darmstadt):
"A Multirelational Account of Tolerance and Respect" [pdf]

Political theorists such as Anna Elisabetta Galeotti, Rainer Forst and Peter Jones have advanced toleration and respect both as theoretical concepts for understanding the place of minorities and as normative ideals for how minorities’ requests for accommodation should be met. The paper addresses a number of complications that arise in applying concepts and ideals of toleration and respect to concrete cases involving several different subjects of toleration and respect. It offers a framework for understanding the status of minorities that locates toleration and respect at the intersection of a vertical (toleration and respect from government towards its subjects) and horizontal relationship (among citizens). The paper notes how toleration and respect may mean different things in the vertical and horizontal dimensions. It further argues that the two dimensions often intersect in ways affecting both the understanding of minorities' position and how minorities' requests should be handled in light of normative ideals of toleration and respect. These theoretical and normative points are illustrated by reference to cases concerning the construction of Mosques in Europe.

Pablo C. Jiménez Lobeira (Australian National):
"Exploring an Analogical Citizenship for Europe"

The cultural, economic and political crisis affecting the European Union (EU) today is manifested in the political community’s lack of enthusiasm and cohesion. An effort to reverse this situation – foster ‘EU identity’ – was the creation of EU citizenship. Citizenship implies a people and a polity. But EU citizens already belong to national polities. Should EU citizenship override national citizenship or coexist with it? Postnationalists like Habermas have suggested EU citizenship can overcome nationalisms, grounding political belonging on the body of laws that members of the post-national polity generate in the public sphere. Cosmopolitan communitarianists like Bellamy, by contrast, think that EU citizens should form a mixed commonwealth, with political belonging based on national citizenship. I will argue in favour of the second option, and submit an analogical reading of the ensuing ideas of citizenship, identity and polity. Cosmopolitan communitarianist EU citizenship promises to better foster the great richness of European national cultural, religious, historical, political, legal and linguistic diversity in a ‘mixed’ polity. Its main challenge is how to keep the diverse, mixed polity together.

James Gledhill (LSE):
"The Democratic Rechtsstaat and the Problem of Self-grounding" [pdf]

According to the realist critique of political moralism, contemporary political theory has neglected the idea of the state, and the coercive power of the state exercised through positive law, in favour of ideal theories of justice and democracy developed independently of political practice. The work of John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas is often seen as paradigmatic of such political moralism. In this paper I take the realist critiques of Raymond Geuss and Bernard Williams as an opportunity for reassessing the methodological approaches of Rawls and Habermas. I begin by distinguishing William’s idea of vindicatory genealogy from Geuss’s, I argue untenable, attempt to separate the method of genealogy as critique from the project of normative justification and I claim that Rawls and Habermas can be seen as employing the methods of reflective equilibrium and rational reconstruction for just such vindicatory purposes. I proceed to offer a genealogy of the idea of the democratic Rechtstaat, to situate Rawls and Habermas within this tradition and to argue that this tradition overcomes the unsatisfactory methodological dualism of realism versus moralism. The problem of offering a self-grounding justification of the modern democratic Rechtsstaat reflects the fundamental problem for philosophy in modernity of creating its normativity out of itself, of finding immanent normative foundations within existing social practices rather than appealing to transcendent ideal principles. I conclude that Rawls fails ultimately to meet this challenge but that Habermas’s project shows how a project of normative philosophical justification can be maintained that is consistent with realist strictures.

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