that ofcials will be responsive to their concerns and judgments. Second, radicaldemocrats emphasize deliberation. Instead of a politics of power and interest, radicaldemocrats favor a more deliberative democracy in which citizens address publicproblems by reasoning together about how best to solve them—in which no force isat work, as Jürgen Habermas (1975: 108) said, “except that of the better argument”.
The ambitious aim of a deliberative democracy, in short, is to shift from bargaining,interest aggregation, and power to the common reason of equal citizens as a dominantforce in democratic life (Cohen 1989,1996; Cohen and Sabel 1997, 2003; Fung 2003,2003a, 2003b, 2004; Fung and Wright 2003; Fung et al. 2000, 2001).But while many radical democrats endorse participation and deliberation in a singlebreath, these two strands of the democratic project grow from different traditions andaddress distinct failures of competitive representation. Our aim here is to clarify therelationship of these different strands, explore the tensions between them, and sketchsome possibilities for reconciliation. We start by showing how participation anddeliberation might address three limitations of competitive representation.
Then wepresent some tensions between deliberation and participation, and offer two strategiesfor blunting these tensions. We conclude by outlining the unsolved difculties thatmust be met in order to advance a radical-democratic project.Before getting started, we should mention that some radical democrats argue thata more participatory and deliberative democracy would be better at solving practicalproblems than systems of competitive representation: better, because of advantagesin identifying problems, collaborating in their resolution, testing solutions to see ifthey are well-tailored to local circumstance, and disciplining solutions by referenceto solutions adopted elsewhere. Our focus here is on normative matters, but nothingwe say is intended to dispute this proposition about practical advantages. Sufce tosay that if a more radical democracy is not at least reasonably good at addressingregulatory problems, then its normative virtues are of limited interest.
Democratic Decits of Competitive Representation
Radical-democratic criticisms of systems of competitive representation focus onthree political values: responsibility, equality, and autonomy.1.
. “As soon as public business ceases to be the citizens’ principalbusiness, and they prefer to serve with their purse rather than with their person, the
In this passage, Habermas is not describing an idealized democracy, but a hypotheticalsituation suited to the justication of norms.
In reading the other contributions to this debate, we are reminded of the importanceof distinguishing participation from deliberation. Other contributors seem to conate thetwo, though Loïc Blondiaux rightly observes that there is an interesting question about therelationship between discussion of deliberative democracy—a topic in political theory forthe past 15 years—and an older literature on participatory democracy.