Why Deliberation Cannot Tame Globalisation
The Impossibility of a Deliberative Democrat
How is it possible for individuals to exercise any control over a political order, i.e. supranational and multilayered? This is the key question in reconciling cosmopolitan justice with democracy. The most popular answer is that of Jurgen Habermas and other deliberative democrats. This chapter argues that deliberative democracy fails to take seriously both the problems and opportunities of large-scale societies, and so cannot provide adequate foundations for a deepening democracy. The participation requirements of Habermas’s normative theory can be met only by making assumptions about human cognitive capacities and institutional capabilities that are not remotely plausible in any large-scale society–faced with limitations of numbers, time, information, and understanding. Deliberative theorists turn to five conceptions of representation that are supposed to ‘mirror’ deliberation and thereby rescue the theory; but all of them fail. A stronger theory of representation is needed.
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