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Berghahn Books

Faculty of Humanities, Development and Social Sciences, University of


KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
The Embattled Public Sphere: Hannah Arendt, Juergen Habermas and Beyond
Author(s): Seyla Benhabib
Source: Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory, No. 90, The Scope and Limits of Public
Reason (December 1997), pp. 1-24
Published by: Berghahn Books in association with the Faculty of Humanities, Development and
Social Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41802076
Accessed: 11-03-2015 09:38 UTC
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The

Embattled

Hannah

Arendt,

Public

Sphere

Juergen

Habermas

and Beyond
Seyla Benhabib

In 1927 the Americanjournalist,WalterLippmann,publishedThe


PhantomPublic.1Written
againstthebackgroundof growingdespair
and disillusionment
abouttheviabilityof representative
democracies
in Europe and NorthAmerica,in thisworkLippmanndecried the
'ideal of sovereignandomnicompetent
citizens'to be a fictionat best
and a phantomat worst.Lippmann'selitistand pessimisticassessmentof thefictionofcollectivedeliberations
engagedin byinformed
a
John
elicited
from
citizens,
Dewey in The Public
spiritedresponse
and its Problems? Grantingthatthe experienceof industrialand
urbanmodernsocietiesundermined
'thegenuinecommunity
life'out
ofwhichAmericandemocracyhad developed,Dewey admitted:'The
public seems to be lost...If a public exists,it is surelyas uncertain
about its whereaboutsas philosopherssince Hume have been about
theresidenceand make-upof theself'.3
Indeed, theoriesof thepublic sphere,fromWalterLippmannto
Hannah Arendt,fromJohnDewey to JuergenHabermas,appear to
be afflictedby a nostalgictrope:once therewas a public sphereof
action and deliberation,participationand collectivedecision-making,todaythereno longeris one; or ifa publicspherestillexistsit is
so distorted,weakened,and corrupted
as to be a pale recollectionof
whatonce was. Whetherone chooses theAthenianpolis as a parain theItaldigm,or looks at theexperienceof republicancity-states
ian Renaissance, whetherone locates the authenticpublic in the
to use their
comingtogetherof privatepersonsof theEnlightenment
'privatereason to discuss public matters'(Habermas), or whether
one idealises theNew Englandtownmeetings,thereis alwaysa curious 'what was thenand whatno longeris' qualityto thesetheories.
The public is a phantomthatwill notgo away: even afterthemany
funeralritesand orationsit has been subjectedto, it comes back to
hauntconscienceand memory.4
December
1997
Theoria,

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Theoria

The idea of the sovereignpeople, deliberating


collectivelyabout
ofthedemocideal
mattersof commonconcernto all, is a regulative
and disquietaboutthepublic sphereis at
raticformof government,
bottomanxietyabouttheviabilityofdemocracyin modem,complex,
multicultural,and increasinglyglobalised polities. The regulative
principleof democracyrequiresthe idea of an autonomouspublic
sphere,as the mediumthroughwhichself-govemancethroughthe
deliberationof a collectivitycan takeplace. Betweenthisregulative
carriersof
desubstantialised
ideal of democracyand theincreasingly
theanonymouspublicconversation
of mass societies,a hiatusexists;
theregulativeideal of democracy
it is thishiatus whichtransforms
and
it
thisfictionwhichcauses continuintoa constitutive
is
fiction,
solutions
ous anxiety.Thereare no easy sociologicalandinstitutional
to thetransformations
ofthepublicspherebroughtabout,notonlyby
liketheelectronic
theriseof thenew technologiesofcommunication,
media and the new informationtechnologies,5but by advancing
in financialand labourmarkets,
processes of global interdependence
and capital.Whata political
theglobal flowof peoples,information,
clarification
these
issues
is a normative
can
contribute
to
philosopher
fordemocratic
of theconcept of thepublic sphereand its centrality
theoryand practice.Afterall, it is notall formsof democratictheory
whichare concernedwiththisconcept:democratictheoriesbased on
interest-group
pluralismsdo notaccorda place of honourto thepubthepublicsphereis viewedas a
In
the
lic sphere.
pluralisttradition,
correlateof therightsof freedom
institutional
notterriblysignificant
of speech, assembly,and organisation.
By contrast,two traditionsof politicalthoughtaccord thepublic
as resusspherea centralplace: thisis therepublicanvirtuetradition,
and theKantian
citatedby Hannah Arendtin thetwentieth
century,
liberaltradition,beginningwithKant's own well-knownreflections
on the 'public use of reason',and continuedin ourown days byJohn
Rawls and JuergenHabermas.It is thedialoguebetweenthesetwo
traditionswhich interestsme. It is my thesisthatneitherof these
positionsis adequate todayto allow thefullcomplexityof thepubdemocratictheoryand
lic sphereto come to theforein contemporary
practice:Hannah Arendt'smodelis flawed,because moreoftenthan
not,it seems to flyin theface of therealitiesof themodernworld,
and because she neverclearlyestablishesthelinkbetweenthepubThe liberal
lic space of politicsand democraticmodesof legitimacy.
legitimacymodels proposedbyRawls andHabermaseach havetheir
problemsas well: in theRawlsianmodel,thepublicsphereshrinksto

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Public
TheEmbattled
Sphere

a normativeconceptof 'public reason'; the give and take,antagonism,conflictand agon of democraticpoliticsis removedfromthe
public sphereevenbeforeit has a chanceto articulateitself.In Juergen Habermas's model,theagon of politicsis indeedpresentin the
public sphere;butHabermasdoes notface theproblemthatan agonisticpublic spherewill notallow thekindof 'consensualreaching
agreementon practicalnorms'whichhis discoursetheoryof legitimacyprivileges.
Indeed, in thinkingabout the 'public sphere', we are caught
betweenthepull of strongassumptionsof normativeunityand unamultivocal,
nimityon the one hand,and thepush of multicultural,
the
Is
other.
there
a way
and
on
conversations
polyphonousdialogues
out of this dilemma?In my concludingconsiderationsI will bring
and thesociologicalproblems,and suggesta
togetherthenormative
of
the
reconceptualisation
publicsphereforthe'electro-iconographic
societies'of late capitalism.
Hannah Arendt and the Recovery of Public Space Under
Conditions of Modernity
HannahArendtis thecentralpoliticalthinker
of thiscenturywhose
workhas remindedus withgreatpoignancyof the 'lost treasures'of
ourtradition
ofpoliticalthought,
and specificallyof the'loss' ofpublic space, of 'der oeffentliche
Raum', underconditionsof modernity.
Hannah Arendt'smajortheoreticalwork,The Human Condition
,6 is
and
not
an
treated
as
anti-modernist
usually,
unjustifiably,
political
work.By the 'rise of thesocial' in thisworkArendtmeanstheinstitutionaldifferentiation
ofmodernsocietiesintothenarrowly
political
realmon theone hand- thestateand its apparatus- and therealms
of theeconomyand thefamilyon theother.As a resultofthesetranseconomicprocesseswhichhad hitherto
been confinedto
formations,
the'shadowyrealmofthehousehold'breakawayformtheirconfines
and become public matters.The same historicalprocess which
statealso bringsforth'socibroughtforththemodernconstitutional
whichinterposesitselfbetween
ety', thatrealmof social interaction
thehouseholdon theone handand thepoliticalstateon theother.A
centuryago, Hegel had describedthisprocessas thedevelopmentin
themidstof ethicallifeof a 'systemof needs', of a domainof economic activitygovernedby commodityexchangeand thepursuitof
economic self-interest.
Arendtsees in thisprocess theoccludingof

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Theoria

thepoliticalby the'social' and thetransformation


of thepublicspace
in whichindividualsno
of politicsintoa pseudospace of interaction
longer'act' but 'merelybehave' as economicproducers,consumers,
and urbancitydwellers.
This relentlesslynegativeaccountof the'riseof thesocial', andof
the decline of the public realm has been identifiedas the core of
Arendt'spolitical 'anti-modernism'.
Yet it is greatlymisleadingto
She devotedas
read Hannah Arendtprimarilyas a nostalgicthinker.
much space to analysingthe dilemmasand prospectsof politicsin
thiscenturyas she did to thedeclineof thepublicsphereunderconditionsof modernity.7
Indeed,if one locatesArendt'sconceptof the
in
the
contextof her theoryof totalitarianism,it
'public space'
acquires a ratherdifferentfocus than the one dominantin The
Human Condition.The terms'agonistic'and 'associational'can capturethiscontrast.8
According to the 'agonistic' model,the public realm represents
thespace of appearancesin whichmoralandpoliticalgreatness,
heroism and preeminencein deeds and wordsarerevealed,displayed,and
shared withothers.This is a competitivespace, in whichone competes for recognition,precedenceand acclaim; ultimatelyit is the
and passage
space in whichone seeks a guaranteeagainstthefutility
of all thingshuman:'For thepolis was fortheGreeks,as therespublica was fortheRomans,firstof all theirguaranteeagainstthefutility of individual life, the space protectedagainst its futilityand
reservedfortherelativepermanence,itnotimmortality,
of mortals'.9
By contrast,the 'associationalview' of publicspace suggeststhat
such a space emergeswheneverand wherever,in Arendt'swords,
'men act togetherin concert'.On thismodel,publicspace is thespace
'where freedomcan appear'. It is nota space necessarilyin a toposense: a townhall or a citysquare where
graphicalor institutional
people do not 'act in concert'is nota publicspace in thisArendtian
sense. But a privatediningroomin whichpeople gathertogetherto
hear a Samizdat or in which dissidentsmeet with foreignerscan
become a public space; just as a forestor a fieldcan also become a
public space if theyare the object and thelocationof an 'action in
of a highwayor
to stoptheconstruction
concert',of a demonstration
a militarybase, for example. These diversetopographicalspaces
become public in thattheybecome the 'sites' of power- boththe
space in whichpowerunfoldsand thespace in whichpowerappears
and is sighted.

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Public
TheEmbattled
Sphere

The distinctionbetweentheagonal and theassociationalmodels


in theGreekversusthemodcorrespondsroughlyto thedifferences
The agonal space of thepolis was made
ernexperienceof politics.10
possible by a morallyhomogeneousand politicallyexclusivecomand hierarchical
egalitariantowarditsmembers,antagonistic
munity,
towardthosewhomit perceivedas others- notonlyforeigners,
but
forthemodernsthe
women,slaves,and servantsas well. By contrast,
public space is essentiallyporous;neitheraccess to it norits agenda
of debatecan be predefined
by criteriaof moraland politicalhomoWith
the
of
entry everynew groupinto thepublic space of
geneity.
since
the
American
and theFrench,and in our century,
the
politics
Russianrevolutions,
thescope ofthepublicgetsextended.The emancipationof workersmade propertyrelationsinto a public-political
issue; theemancipationof womenhas meantthatthefamilyand the
so-called 'domestic-intimate'spherebecome political issues; the
attainment
of rightsby non-Whiteand non-Christian
post-and neocolonial peoples has put culturalquestionsof collective self- and
on the agenda. Not only is it the 'lost treaother-representations
sure' of revolutions,in theArendtiansense, thateventuallyall can
participate in them,but equally, when freedom emerges from
action in concert,therecan be no agenda to predefinethetopic of
public conversation.
When Hannah Arendtnames the public space, 'the space of
appearances'withinwhichactionand speechunfold,she has primarhumaninteractions.
Notonlydoes
ilyin minda modelofface-to-face
thisviewprivilegedirecthumaninteraction,
italso presupposesa fair
degreeof ethicaland value homogeneityand convergencearounda
sharedethos.For,howotherwise,
wouldaction'manifest'itsmeaning
to others?How, withouta fairdegreeof cohesionaroundinterpretativerepertoires,
would a groupof humansbe able to recognisethe
'whatness' of an action,and the 'whoness' of the doer? Cohesion
does not mean unanimitybut a certainamountof convergencein
I wouldlike to namethistheholisticfunction
of pubinterpretation.
lic space. Public space, accordingto thisview,is a space in whicha
collectivitybecomes presentto itselfand recognisesitselfthrougha
sharedinterpretive
I willsuggestthatthisdimensionofthe
repertoire.
public sphere correspondsto what Habermas calls 'ethical discourses', and whatJohnRawls names 'comprehensivedoctrines'.
issues
Throughsuchethicaldiscoursesand comprehensive
doctrines,
of collectiveandindividualidentity;
thevalue orientations
of a group
in thelightof whichit viewsitspast,present,and future;patternsof

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Theoria

culturalsignificationand understanding
throughwhich individuals
interprettheirneeds and constructvisions of the good life would
become topicsof discussionas well as theprojectsof social action.
In additionto its holisticone, thepublic spherehas an epistemic
salientin Arendt'sthesisthat
function.This dimensionis particularly
narrowselfof
the process public-politicalstrugglemusttransform
Thisis
interestintoa morebroadlysharedpublicor commoninterest.
a dimensionof thepublicspherewhichcomesto theforeincreasingly
in Arendt's later,and more KantianratherthanAristotelian,writings." According to this view, which following Kant, Arendt
- die erweiterte
describesas thestandpoint
of theenlargedmentality
theauthenticpoliticalattitudeis the
Denkungsart- whatconstitutes
in public,to entertain
others'
and
reasons
to
willingness give
capacity
self-interest
into
a
common
the
dictates
of
of
to
transform
point view,
on Kant's
in hercommentary
publicgoal. As Arendtputitbeautifully
theoryofjudgement,
withothers,
and
thepowerofjudgement
restson a potential
agreement
is
like
in
thethinking
which
is
active
judgingsomethingnot, the
process
meandmyself,
but
a
of
thought
process purereasoning,dialoguebetween
evenifI amquitealoneinmaking
findsitselfalwaysandprimarily,
upmy
withotherswithwhomI knowI
communication
mind,in an anticipated
mustfinally
cometosomeagreement.12
This is the epistemicfunctionof thepublic space, and such 'anticipated communicationwithothers'transcendsthe boundariesof the
We maysay thatthisArendtianreadingof Kant
face-to-face-society.
also forms,in nuce, thekernelof Habermas'sdialogic or discursive
theoryof legitimacyin thepublicsphere.

Habermas and the Modernist Transformation


of the Public Sphere
In 1962 JuergenHabermaspublishedThe StructuralTransformation
of the Public Sphere.Althoughthe veryfirstpages of thiswork
thecomrevealthecentrality
of Habermas'sdialoguewithArendt,14
of
his
intellectual
debt
and
the
of
their
magnitude
plexity
interchange
to her have not been giventheirdue. AfterThe Human Condition,

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Public
TheEmbattled
Sphere

of the Public
JuergenHabermas's The StructuralTransformation
the
was
work
to
call
to
our
attention
thecentralemphatically
Sphere
this
for
and
ancient
not
of
modem,
concept
merely
politics.In the
ity
move fromtheArendtianconceptof the 'public space' to theHabermasianconceptofthe'publicsphere',certaincrucialtransformations
tookplace: whereasArendtsees a declineof thepublicsphereunder
Habermas notes the emergenceof a new
conditionsof modernity,
i.e. the comingtogetherof
formof publicityin the Enlightenment,
to
individuals
reason
about
The bourgeois
private
public matters.15
of
the
which
constitutes
in nuce
readingpublic
earlyEnlightenment,
thecritical-political
of
the
late
and
nineteenth
public
eighteenth early
centuries,exercisesits reason about public mattersby discussinga
thirdvoice, thevoice of theabsentauthor.
WhereastheArendtianconceptionof thepublicis boundto topolike 'space of appearance','thecity
graphicaland spatialmetaphors,
and its walls', Habermas focuses on the transformations
brought
aboutin theidentity
of thepublicwiththeriseof theprintedmedia.16
Thereis a shiftfromthemodelofan ocular to an auditorypublic;the
ofas a groupofhumansseeingeach other,
publicis no longerthought
as in thecase of theuniteddemos.Rather,thepublic is increasingly
formedthrough
liketheprinting
impersonalmeansofcommunication
and scientific
press,newsletters,
novels,literary
journals.
Finally,whereasin HannahArendt'spoliticalphilosophythepublic space is thespace withintheconfinesof whicha community
of
forHabermas,thepublicsphereis not
equals act and speaktogether,
an arenaofactionbutan impersonalmedium
just,or evenprincipally,
ofcommunication,
and opinion-formation.
The terminoinformation,
logical shiftin Germanallows us to capturethispointmorereadily:
whereasArendtwritesof 'der oeffentliche
Raum', Habermasuses
thetermdie 'Oeffentlichkei,
translated
intoEnglishvariouslyas the
'publicsphere','publicity',and 'publicopinion'.The publicbecomes
or decorporealisedin thisprocess.
increasinglydesubstantialised
Habermas's
of theArendtian
Through
systematictransformations
conceptof thepublic sphere,it becomes possible forus to establish
thelinkbetweenthepublicsphereanddemocraticlegitimacy.17
In the
following,buildingupon the 'discoursetheoryof ethics',181 would
liketo developtheoutlinesof a theoryofdemocraticlegitimacy.
This
theclaim made
conceptualelaborationwill allow me to substantiate
above thatthe ideal of the deliberativepublic is both a regulative
ideal and constitutive
fictionof thedemocraticformof government.

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Theoria

8
Democratic Legitimacy and the Public Sphere

Democracy,in myview,is bestunderstoodas a modelfororganising


thecollectiveand publicexerciseofpowerin themajorinstitutions
of
a society on the basis of the principlethatdecisions affectingthe
can be viewedas theoutcomeof a procewell-beingof a collectivity
dureof freeand reasoneddeliberationamongindividualsconsidered
of essentially
as moraland politicalequals.19Certainlyanydefinition
contestedconceptslike democracy,freedom,
justice is nevera mere
itselfalreadyarticulatesthenormativethedefinition;thedefinition
which
the
term.
Such is thecase withtheabove definiory
justifies
model
tion.My understanding
of democracyprivilegesa deliberative
This is not to imply
over otherkinds of normativeconsiderations.
and culturalstability
thateconomic welfare,institutional
efficiency,
definiwould not be relevantinjudgingtheadequacyof a normative
and
collective
claims
tionof democracy.Economic welfare
identity
needs must also be satisfiedfordemocraciesto functionover time.
However,the normativebasis of democracyas a formof organising
of economic welfarenor
our collectivelife is neitherthe fulfilment
Forjust as the
therealisationof a stablesense of collectiveidentity.
attainment
of certainlevels of economicwelfaremaybe compatible
withauthoritarian
regimesmay
politicalrule,so too anti-democratic
be more successful in assuringa sense of collectiveidentitythan
democraticones.
itis a necessary
modelofdemocracy,
Accordingto thedeliberative
but insufficient
conditionfor attaininglegitimacyin the collective
of this
decision making processes of a polity,thatthe institutions
in
the
common
are
what
interest
is considered
polity so arrangedthat
of all results fromprocesses of collectivedeliberationconducted
The more
rationallyand fairlyamong freeand equal individuals.20
collective decision-makingprocesses approximatethis model the
of theirlegitimacy.
moreincreasesthepresumption
Why?
is to be traced
The basis of legitimacyin democraticinstitutions
back to the presumptionthatthe instanceswhich claim obligatory
power for themselvesdo so because theirdecisions representan
impartialstandpointsaid to be equally in the interestsof all. This
presumptioncan only be fulfilledif such decisions are in principle
open to appropriatepublic processes of deliberationby free and
equal citizens.
themostgeneralprinThe 'discoursemodelof ethics'formulates
the
and
moral
behind
intuitions
validityclaims of a deliberaciples

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Public
TheEmbattled
Sphere

The proceduralspecificsof thosespecial


tivemodel of democracy.21
situationscalled 'practicaldiscourses'are not autoargumentation
to a macro-institutional
level noris it necesmaticallytransferable
A theoryof democracy,as
sarythattheyshouldbe so transferable.
would have to be concernedwith
opposed to a generalmoraltheory,
thequestionof institutional
specificationsand practicalfeasibility.
of thediscoursemodel can
Nonetheless,theproceduralconstraints
act as testcases forcriticallyevaluatingcriteriaof membership,
rules
for agenda setting,and for the structuring
of public discussions
withinand amonginstitutions.
The criticaldimensionofthedeliberative
democracymodelis parif
salient
we
in
mind
the
currents
ticularly
keep
following:influential
in contemporary
political theory,underthe guidance of economic
modelsof reasoningin particular,
proceedfroma methodologicalfiction.This is thefictionof an individualwithan orderedsetof coherent preferences.This fictiondoes not have much relevancein the
politicalworld.On complex social and politicalissues, moreoften
thannot,individualsmayhave viewsandwishesbutno orderedsetof
sincethelatterwould implythattheywouldbe enlightpreferences,
ened notonlyaboutthepreferences
butabouttheconsequencesand
relativemeritsofeach oftheirpreferred
choicesin advance.It is actually the deliberativeprocess itselfthatis likelyto producesuch an
outcomeby leadingtheindividualto further
criticalreflection
on his
held
and
views
it
is
incoherent
to
assume
that
indialready
opinions;
viduals can starta processof publicdeliberationwitha level of conwhichactuallycan
ceptualclarityabouttheirchoicesandpreferences
result
from
a
successful
of
deliberation.
only
Likewise,the
process
formation
of coherentpreferences
cannotprecededeliberation;
it can
onlysucceed it.Veryoftenindividuals'wishes as well as views and
opinionsconflictwithone another.In thecourseof deliberationand
theexchangeofviewswithothers,individualsbecomemoreawareof
suchconflictsand feelcompelledto undertakea coherentordering.
More significantly,
the veryprocedureof articulating
a view in
on individualpreferencesand
public imposes a certainreflexivity
herpointof view and positionto others,
opinions.Whenpresenting
an individualmustsupportthemby articulating
'good reasons' in a
public contextto her co-deliberators.This process of articulating
good reasonsin public forcestheindividualto thinkof whatwould
countas a good reasonforall othersinvolved.One is thusforcedto
thinkfromthestandpoint
of all involvedforwhose agreement
one is
can
convince
others
in
of
her
of
'wooing'. Nobody
public
point view

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10

Theoria

withoutbeing able to statewhy,whatappearsgood, plausible,just


and expedientto her,can also be consideredso fromthestandpoint
of
all involved.Reasoningformthestandpoint
of all involvednotonly
forcesa certaincoherenceuponone's ownviews,italso forcesone to
adopta standpointof the 'enlargedmentality'.22
Any proceduralistand deliberativemodelof democracyis prima
facie open to the argumentthatno modernsocietycan organiseits
affairsalong thefictionof a mass assemblycarryingout its deliberations collectivelyin public. Here morethanan issue of size is at
stake. The argumentthattheremaybe an invisiblelimitto thesize
of a deliberativebody,whichwhencrossed,affectsthenatureof the
reasoningprocess is undoubtedlytrue.Nonethelessthereasonwhy
a deliberativeand proceduralistmodelof democracyneed notoperate withthefictionof a generaldeliberative
assemblyis thattheprocedural specificationsof thismodelprivilegea pluralityofmodesof
association in which all affectedcan have the rightto articulate
theirpoint of view. These can rangefrompoliticalparties,to citizens' initiatives,to social movements,to voluntaryassociations,to
consciousness-raisinggroups,and the like. It is throughthe interlockingweb of these multipleformsof associations,networksand
'
organisationsthatan anonymous'publicconversationresults.It is
central to the model of deliberativedemocracythat it privileges
such a public sphere ofmutuallyinterlocking
and overlappingnetworksand associations ofdeliberation,contestationand argumentation.The fictionof a generaldeliberativeassemblyin whichthe
united people expressed theirwill belongs to the early historyof
democratic theory.Today our guidingmodel has to be thatof a
medium of loosely associated, multiplefoci of opinion-formation
and disseminationwhichimpacteach otherin freeand spontaneous
processes of communication.23
The Rawlsian Concept of Public Reason
The Rawlsian model of 'public reason'and thedeliberativemodelof
Boththeoriesview
democracysharecertainfundamental
premises.24
thelegitimationof politicalpowerand theexaminationof thejustice
of institutions
to be a publicprocess,opento all citizenstopartakein.
The idea thatthejustice of institutions
be 'in thepublic'seye', so to
for
the
to
to
speak,
public scrutinise, examine,and to reflectupon is
fundamental.25
There are threesignificant
ways in whichtheRawl-

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Public
TheEmbattled
Sphere

11

fromthemodel of publicdeliberasian idea of publicreasondiffers


above.
Some
of
these
differences
are of a sociological
tionproposed
nature,othersindicatesignificant
philosophicaldivergences.
First,unlikethedeliberativemodel whichinsistsupon theopenness of the agenda of public debate,Rawls restrictstheexerciseof
public reason to deliberationabout a specificsubjectmatter.These
are issues involving 'constitutionalessentials' and questions of
basic justice.26Rawls's model of public reason proceeds froma
restrictedagenda.
Second, publicreasonis bestviewednotas a process ofreasoning
among citizensbut as a regulativeprincipleimposinglimitsupon
howindividuals,institutions
and agenciesoughtto reasonaboutpublic matters.The limitsof publicreasonare set by a 'politicalconceptionof liberalism'.27
Third,forRawls thesocial spaces withinwhichpublic reason is
exercisedare also restricted.
The limitsof publicreasondo notapply
to personaldeliberationsand reflections
aboutpoliticalquestionsor
'to the reasoningabout themby membersof associationssuch as
churchesand universities,
all of whichis a vital partof the backculture'.28
The
ground
reasoningofcorporatebodies and associations
is 'public' withrespectto itsmembers,'butnonpublicwithrespectto
political societyand to citizensgenerally.Nonpublicreasonscomprise the manyreasonsof civil societyand belong to whatI have
called the'backgroundculture',in contrastto thepublicpoliticalculture'.29The publicsphere,forRawls then,is locatednotin civilsoci, including
etybutin thestateand itsorganisations
firstandforemost
thelegal sphereand itsinstitutions.
Yet Rawls himselfcannotsustainthe distinctionbetween'civil
society'and therestricted
conceptionof the public,and thisin two
in
a
constitutional
ways:first,
democracymany,ifnotall, associations
and organisationsare also 'public' bodies, forto become incorporatedand recognisedas a corporatebody,theyhave to complywith
thesame constitutional
essentialsand theruleof law as do all other
moreobviouslypublicinstitutions.
Take thecase of countryclubs in
theUSA thatdiscriminate
againstBlacks,Jews,Hispanics,etc.To be
as
a
recognised
legallyincorporated
entityunderthe due processof
thelaw, such countryclubs in recentyearshave had to changetheir
charters.The constitutional-democratic
stateand the institutions
of
civilsocietyaretherefore
notas sharplyseparableas someofRawls's
formulationssuggest. All clubs, associations, and organisations

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12

Theoria

withincivil societyhave charterswhichcan be subjectto public as


well as legal scrutiny.
individualsand movementsin civil society
Second, institutions,
attemptto influencethepublic-political
processand in doingso cross
the boundariesbetweenpublic and moreprivate-civil
associations.
For Rawls thisis thecase withcitizenswho engagein politicaladvocacy in the public forumand withmembersof politicalparties,candidates and individualssupportingthem.30But to say thatwhenin
civil societytheseindividualsand associationsare governedby one
kindof reason,a nonpublicone, butthattheyhave to respectthelimits of public reasonas soon as theyenterthepoliticalarena,is erroneous,forcivilsocietyis also public.Civil societyand itsassociations
are notpublic in thesense of alwaysallowinguniversalaccess to all,
buttheyare publicin thesense of beingpartof thatanonymouspublic conversationin a democracy.A deliberativemodel of democracy
is muchmoreinterested
thanRawls in whathe calls 'backgroundculturalconditions',preciselybecause politicsand politicalreasonare
alwaysseen to emergeoutof a culturaland social context.Publicreason can certainlydistanceitselffromthiscontextand evaluateitcritically but it can never completely render transparentall the
whichgiveriseto it.This is thekernelof
backgroundpresuppositions
truthin postmodernist
critiquesof Kantianrationalism:namely,that
reasonis always situatedin a contextwhichitcan neverrendercompletelycomprehensibleto discursiveanalysis.
In these threerespects,the Rawlsian model divergesfromthe
theagenda
deliberativemodel:thedeliberative
modeldoes notrestrict
of public conversation;in factitencouragesdiscourseaboutthelines
separatingthe public fromthe private;31second, the deliberative
and is muchmore
model locates thepublic spherein civil society,32
interestedin the ways in which politicalprocesses and the 'backgroundculture'interact.Finally,while theRawlsian model focuses
upon 'final and coercive political power', the deliberativemodel
focusesupon non-coerciveand non-final
processesof opinionformationin an unrestricted
publicsphere.33
thatforRawls theprimeexemplarof the
Thus it is notsurprising
exerciseof public reasonis nottheanonymouspublicbutveryoften
is and 'oughtto be' theSupremeCourt,'...publicreasonis well suited
to be the court'sreason in exercisingits role as the highestjudicial
of thehigherlaw; and secbutnotas thefinalinterpreter
interpreter
thatservesas
ond,thatthesupremecourtis thebranchof government
theexemplarof publicreason'.34

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Public
TheEmbattled
Sphere

13

In recentdiscussionsRawls's conceptof public reasonhas come


an impossible
andcriticism
forpresupposing
underincreasingscrutiny
of
convictions.
reason
from
Not
private
onlyTom
separation public
from
within
a
Habermasian
butalso
framework,35
McCarthy,writing
whois muchmoresympathetic
to Rawls's basic proSamuel Sheffler,
To appreciatetheforceof thesecriticisms
ject, sharethiscriticism.36
whichhas ragedin theUSA
considerbrieflytheabortioncontroversy
since the 1973 SupremeCourtrulingin Roe v. Wade. If thosewho
defendtherightto life,andbelievethatthefoetusis a moralbeingthat
mustbe protectedby thefullforceof thelaw, were to disassociate
these 'private'beliefs,as theyexercisethemin civil societyand in
otherpoliticalassociations,fromthepublicarena,therewould be no
abortioncontroversy.
Likewise,ifthosewho believedin thecentrality
of thewoman'srightto choosewhether
or notto carrya pregnancy
to
would
limit
this
to
the
of
from
term,
sphere privatemoralityalone,
theirpointofviewtheywouldhavealreadyconcededthatargument
to
theiropponents.37Most controversialmoral,ethical,and political
fromimmigraquestionsof ourtime- fromabortionto pornography,
tionrightsto theimplications
of new medicaltechnologies- would
noteven be on theagendaof publicdebate,ifthosewho participated
in thesestruggles
subscribedtoRawls's conceptionof 'publicreason'.
This conceptionofpublicreasonis empirically
flawedand sociologically limitedforanalysingthepublicsphereof our societies.
Yet a moresympathetic
readingof theRawlsian view is possible:
ifone wereto takepublicreasonto referto thelogic ofjustification
essentialswhichoughtto be putforwardin
regardingconstitutional
a liberal-democratic
society,thenRawls's claim has a certainplausiwe
do
not
want
thehighestcourtsof law in theland,and other
bility:
instancesto appeal to abstrusescientific
significant
decision-making
and theologicaldoctrineswhenjustifyingpublic normsand principles, nordo we wantthemto bringin contestedvalue questionsand
othercomprehensivemoral doctrines,which cannot possibly be
sharedby all in a pluralisticmoraluniverse,to thepublicarticulation
of theseprinciples.Such doctrinesand views,values and principles
will nonethelessplay a rolein individualand collectivedeliberation
processes. But Rawls is concernedthattheydo not findtheirway
intothelaw books and legal doctrinesof theland.Perhapswe would
do betterthento renameRawls's view of 'public reason' a doctrine
of 'public justification',and admitthatit has littleto do withthe
political speech and deliberationof ordinarycitizensin the public
marketplace.

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14

ria
Theo

Yet Rawls clearlyhas morethanthisin mindwhenhe writesthat


the exercise of public reason imposes a 'dutyof civility'whichthe
idea of democraticcitizenshipentails.38
Wheneverwe are temptedto
and
value
sectarian
we mustask
to
our
convictions,
get
appeal
deepest
in
strikeus,preourselves, Rawls's words:'How wouldourargument
sentedin theformof a supremecourtopinion?'39Rawls certainly
has
a veryidealised view of the reason exercisedby the US Supreme
Court itself.A look at some recentdecisionsof the Court,like the
Bowers v. Hardwickcase, in whichthe Courtsustaineda Georgia
statutewhichmade engagingin acts of sodomya criminally
punishable offense,would show thatthe Court does not always exercise
'public reason'.40
Nonetheless, there is somethingboth rightand attractivein
Rawls's demandthatwe, as citizensburdenedwiththedutyof civility,should be readyto ask ourselvesthisquestion.It is not too farfetched to discern in this Rawlsian requirementa political and
institutionalist
ofthefamousKantianprinciple:namely
interpretation
thatas moral beings we should only act upon those principlesof
whichwe could wantthattheybe universalisable
forall. Rawls is askus
in
a
to
think
of
ourselves
as
ing
legislators KingdomofEnds. The
core intuitionof thisKantianposition,whichI share,is thatall normativejustification- moral,political,and legal - mustpresentreasons of whichwe wouldbe readyto claimthattheywouldbe equally
valid and fairforall involved.And aroundthispointthereis considconsideredin thispaper.
erableconvergenceamongall threetheorists
Hannah ArendttakesKant's formulations
on aestheticjudgementin
the ThirdCritiqueand makesthemthecentreof hertheoryof political judgement,namely to woo the consentof everyoneelse with
whomI knowI mustcome to some agreement.
Likewise,forHaberof the Kantianuniversalismas discourse ethics is a reformulation
ability principle. In discourse ethics, The basis of legitimacy
becomes what all could will not as noumenalselves but as participants in practicaldiscourse,whose adoptionof the moralpointof
view enables themto transcendnot only interest-oriented
perspectivesbutalso value-basedperspectives'.41
Thus for all threetheorists,the value of publicitywould correspond to what I named its 'epistemic' dimension:the normative
requirementthat for a principle,a law, a course of action to be
of
deemedpubliclyacceptable,it mustappearso fromthestandpoint
all involved.Participationin thepublicrealmimposesupon one the
andto be readyto thinkandreason
obligationto reverseperspectives,

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Public
TheEmbattled
Sphere

15

fromthe standpointof concernedothers.This epistemicdimension


was alreadyimplicitin theKantianmoralprincipleto act in such a
way thatthemaximof one's actionscould be a universallaw forall.
Hereinlies,however,theaporiaof thepublicsphere:theveryconcept of a publicsphereforcesus to thinkfromthe standpointof all
we do thisthrough
as Haninvolved,whether
enlargingourmentality
nahArendtasks us to do; or through
reasoningas SupremeCourtjustices would, as Rawls requires,or throughreversingperspectivesin
practicaldialogue,as Habermasurges.Yet even afterwe engage in
such processes of actual or virtualreasoning and dialogue, it is
ourclashof valunlikelythatwe willhaveeliminatedourdifferences,
ues and beliefs,thedisparity
held
our
convictions.
Peramong deeply
the
of
the
reeks
of
rationalist
very concept
haps
public sphere
idealism: it seems to presupposetransparent
selves who can know
themselvesand each other.At thispointwe can see thatpostmodernistskeptics,likeJean-Franois
Lyotardwho questionanymethod
of universalisability,
liberalswho thinkthatpolitics
interest-group
is
about
on
essentially
bargaining goods, some commensurableand
some not,and advocatesof 'the politicsof phenomenologicalpositionality'willjoin hands.42
If the technological,sociological and economic transformations
of global capitalism appear to generatecommunicationwithout
thesephilosophicalconsiderations
deliberation,
suggestanotheraporia: theillusionof beingable to reachagreement
in a worldof incommensurablevalues, or 'warringgods', to use Max Weber's phrase.
Let me offera defenceof public spheretheoriesdespitetheseaporias and difficulties.
Conclusion
I wantto beginbynotingthattheconceptofthepublicsphereis a regulativeprincipleas well as constitutive
fictionof democracy.It is a
an ideal of deliberationand
regulativeprinciplebecause it articulates
in thelightof whichwe, as citizens,formulate
ourposijustification
tions,dialoguewithothers,tryto convincethemof ourpointof view.
to suchpracticesofjustification
andpublicreaSurely,thealternative
soningare many.Violence is inherentin thepolitical;it lurksat the
limitsof thesayableand thecommunicable.To forceothersto accept
our pointof view ratherthanwooingthemto see thegood reasons
behindit is a permanent
temptation.

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16

Theoria

is
Equally, not violence but bargainingover incommensurables
Here
the
one shoulddistinguish
betweentheoriesof
possible.
political whichsee thisdomainas butan extensionof thegenerallogic of
instrumental
and marketrationality
dominantin the social realmcertainrationalchoice modelsforexample- andothertheoriesofthe
political, like Donald Moon's and increasinglyTom McCarthy's,
which recognisetheneed 'to agree to disagree'aboutincommensurables.43A deliberative
theoryof democracywhichis also a proceduralisttheoryof argumentation
andconflictresolutionincorporates
the
that
can
at thefirst-level nonethelessconcur
principle
disagreements
about proceduresat the second-level,about rules of discourseand
otherinstitutional
specificswhich governfirst-level
disagreements
and modes of livingwiththem.
and second-order
Whethersucha separationbetweenfirstrulesis
well
to
maintain
as
as
is a
institutionally
possible
philosophically
in
multicultural
issue.
of
the
debates
Many
ragingtoday
burning
whatWill Kymdemocraciesaboutgrouprights- and in particular,
tumaround
licka has called 'groupdifferentiated
citizenshiprights'44
and sectheviabilityandpossibility
of sucha separationbetweenfirst
of
ond-orderrulesofcoexistenceon theone handand thearticulation
culturaldifference
the
on
other.
to
As significant
as suchinstitutional
compromisesand agreements
of multicultural
democracies,I
disagree may be in the functioning
would disagree thattheyofferthe solutionto the pull and push of
inherent
in theconceptofthepublicsphere.For
unityand multiplicity
in a democracythepublicsphereis also a sphereof critique,contestation,and challenge. While such 'modus vivendi' agreements,or
what Cass Sunsteincalls 'incompletelytheorisedagreements',are
vitalfortheday to day functioning
ofdemocracies,45
theymayalso be
hide
and
hierarchical,
may
power compromises
deeply oppressive,
The publicsphere
ratherthanbeingthesitesof genuineagreements.
and compromises
is the domain in whichsuch 'pseudo-agreements'
called
into
and
are criticallyexamined,challenged,
question.It is also
thespherewithinwhichthelinesofcompromiseseparatingthe'public' and the 'private'are debated.I do notat all questionthatitis necessaryto drawa line betwentheprivateand thepublicspheresin all
complexdemocraticsocieties,nordo I challengethenecessitytoconanchorprivacyrightsin a fashionmoresoundthanis curstitutionally
the
in theUS Constitution,
forexample.46However,as a
case
rently
feministdemocratictheoristI am also deeplysuspiciousof past and
currentpracticesof drawingtheselines,and aboutthelegal and insti-

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Public
TheEmbattled
Sphere

17

tutionalcompromiseswhichhavebeen reachedaroundwomen'sand
children'srights.The taskof thecriticalpublicsphereis to challenge
the secret logic of power,hierarchy,and dominationbehindsuch
modusvivendiagreements.
of modernsocietiesrequiresa differThe institutional
complexity
model
of
and public justification.So far,
discourse
entiated
public
deliberativedemocratictheoriesemergingout of the Habermasian
discoursemodel,includingmy own previouswork,have not been
attentive
to theneed forthe multiplicity
of institutional
sufficiently
I would still agree with
withinthepublic sphere.4,1
configurations
Habermas thatthe model of a deliberativepublic mustoccupy a
'place d'honneur'withinsuch a theorypreciselybecause it is the
paradoxicalideal and fictionof democracy.Nonetheless,as mydiscussion of Rawls's concept of 'public reason' has suggested,we
betweenlegislativeand adjudicativepublicspheres
shoulddistinguish
and theircorresponding
logics; betweendeliberativeand decisionbodies
and
theircorresponding
constraints.
Not onlyis
makingpublic
thecontemporary
an
conversation
of interpublicsphere anonymous
discourses
and
a
in
it
is
also
which
differdebates,
penetrating
sphere
entrulesof appropriate
and
and inappropriate
diverse
speech,
logics
of constraint
meetandoftenclash witheach other.
The citizensof complexdemocracieshave an enormousworkof
institutional
translation
to do. Theyhave to be able to see thatwhatis
appropriateto say in theheatof a public debate in themarketplace
ifand whenenunciatedas thepositionof the
maynotbe appropriate
democraSupremeCourtof theland. The citizensof contemporary
cies have to negotiatethemultiplicity
ofoftenincommensurable
institutionalperspectives.WalterLippmannwas rightto be pessimistic
about all thatis expectedof democraticcitizens: reflexivity
about
one's own valuepositions;thecapacityto distanceoneselffromone's
convictionsand entertain
themfromthe perspectiveof others;the
to
live
with
ability
religious,ethical,and aestheticincommensurables;
theequanimityto acceptthemultiplicity
of valuesand theclash ofthe
a
in
disenchanted
these
are thecognitiveand moral
universe
gods
which
a
democratic
qualities
publicsphererequiresfromitscitizens;
a
task
at
and nationswill oftenfail.
which
individuals
undoubtedly
So farI have focusedon thelegislativeand deliberative,thatis,
thenarrowlypolitical,public sphere.In our societies thelines separatingthepoliticalfromtheculturaland fromthereligious,scientificand aestheticpublic realmsare porous. In thelifeworldof the
civil societies of complex, multiculturaldemocracies,a filmcan

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18

Theoria

become the instigatorand the occasion fora complex dialogue on


and structures
of everypolitical membership,mediarepresentation
take
the
the
contributions
of
director
day prejudice
Spike Lee, for
the
to
debate
about
and
in
race,
example,
particularBlack-white,
relationsin theUSA.
The recentprominence
of culturalpoliticsand identity-based
political movementsall overtheworldsuggeststhatthedecentring
as well
as dmocratisation
of thepublic spherein thelast threedecades has
it
with
new and different
voices. The decentredpublic
many
brought
has
become
the
where
site
hitherto
excludedand marginalised
sphere
women
all
over
the
non-Christian
and non-White
world,
ex-,
groups
- use thenew
and
neo-colonial
and
Lesbians
post-,
peoples, Gays
means and channelsof communication
to carryout theirculturaland
political struggles.The electronicmedia in particularare becoming
the 'site' in whichvalue warsare waged,identitiesfashioned,needs
renegotiated,images of the good life circulated.Nancy Fraserhas
coined the felicitousphrasethe 'subalternpublics' to describethese
new developments.48
The ever increasingfluidity
of lines betweencultureand politics
with
it
well
as
as danger.On theone hand,theculbrings
greathope
tivationof qualitiesof mindand characterof democraticcitizenship
will partiallytake place throughimmersionin these new multiple
subalternpublics.On theotherhand,I am skepticalaboutwhatI shall
call the 'iconographie'mediumof theelectronicmeansof representation.Thereis a tendencyin theelectronicmedia towardthepresentation of the individual as a type,as an icon of a position,of a
thecomplexity
movement,of an idea, of a perspective.Increasingly,
and ambivalenceof all individuallives,theopacityand mystery
of
our innerbeings are hollowedout as we are reducedto simplistic
social, cultural,and politicalpositions,easily recognisablebya public of viewerswhichis itselfequallyflattened
and hollowedout.The
the
and
becomes
laughterwhichaccompapublic
phantomapplause
nies Americansit-coms;a reminder
thatthislinewas funny,
thathere
we were supposedto laugh,cryor sigh.
What is of concernin thistrendtowardtheiconographiepublic,is
not the decline of aestheticvalue alone. Rather,it is worrisomethat
thequalities of mindwhichall publicspheretheoristsemphasise,let
us brieflyreferto themwithKant's phrase'the enlargedmentality',
The iconographiepublic
may not be servedby thesedevelopments.
of selfand
sphereflattensoutthecomplexityand theco-constitution
otherperspectives.It freezesin space and time,whetherin one's

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Public
TheEmbattled
Sphere

19

the incessant
moral imaginationor one's mode of argumentation,
of
and
interpretation
negotiations understanding misunderstanding,
whichthecommunicative
and reinterpretation
practicesof theeveryday lifeworldinvolve.
To recogniseand to come to gripswiththeimplicationsof itsown
a democraticpeopleneedsto reenactitsidentity
in thepubdiversity,
threatsof being
lic sphere.As withindividuals,so withcollectivities,
whichare not diffusedturnintoresentment
towardothers
different
whomone is not.The freepublicspherein a democraticpolitymust
allow equal access to all groupswithincivil society to re-present
themselvesin public. In enteringthepublic,everynew social, cultural,politicalgrouppresentsitspointof view to others,or it re-presentsitselfto others,in thesense of refashioning
itselfas a presence
in thepublic. This processof self-representation
and articulationin
is
still
the
which
the
civic
means
public
only
through
imaginationcan
be cultivated.The process of articulatinggood reasons in public
forcesone to thinkfromthestandpoint
of all othersto whomone is
to makeone's pointof viewplausibleand cogent,and to whom
trying
one is tryingto tell one's own story.The abilityof individualsand
groupsto take the standpointof othersinto account,to be able to
reverseperspectivesand see theworldfromtheirpointof view,is a
crucial virtueof moraland aestheticimaginationin a civic polity.
Certainlythisabilitybecomesmostnecessaryas well as mostfragile
underconditionsof incommensurability
and social opacity.The public sphereis like thepupil in the eye of the body politic; when its
vision is murky,cloudy,or hindered,the sense of directionof the
polityis also impaired.
NOTES
1.Walter
ThePhantom
a newintroduction
Public
, with
Lippmann,
byW.M.McClay,
NewBrunswick,
1993.
N.J.:
Transaction
Publishers,
2. Chicago:
TheSwallow
in1927.)
1954.(First
Press,
published
3. Dewey,
ThePublic
anditsProblems
, pp.117-118
- hasiteverexisted?
4.Yetthiscontinuing
thepublic
andirritation
about
can
nostalgia
- is accompanied
itberevived?
ofcontemporary
research
aboutthe
bya burst
Female
andsocialsciences.
inthesalonsof
topicinthehumanities
participation
theEuropean
aswellastheendputbytheFrench
Revolution
to
Enlightenment
women's
activism
studied
havebeenextensively
inrecent
political
years(DeborahHertz,
theformation
JoanLandes,
DanaGoodman);
ofmultiple
publics,
defined
lineshavebeenscrutinised
andnational
intheEuroclass,gender,
along
contexts
peanas wellasAmerican
(Oskar
NegtandAlexander
Kluge;Geoffrey

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20

Theoria

SincethetransforLindaKerber).
DavidBell;Mary
Ryan;
Ely;DanielGordon;
theforandtheformer
SovietUnion,
mations
of1989inEast-Central
Europe,
a major
hasassumed
mation
ofanindependent
placeintheproject
sphere
public
& Cohen).
aswell(Arato
inthese
societies
ofreconstructing
Perhaps
democracy
inthisareafrom
andtheorising
whatdistinguishes
themore
recent
scholarship
andHabermas,
is thelessnostalgic
andDewey,
Arendt
theworkofLippmann
ofphenomena
to
the
butincreasingly
morehistoricist
approaches plethora
ofthis
andpublic
referred
tobytheterms
space.Inmuch
sphere,
public,
public
atthecentre.
is nolonger
recent
the'normative'
ofthepublic
dimension
work,
decline
ofthe
with
thenormative
Whathasreplaced
theearlier
preoccupations
thevariety,
diverareinstead
a multiplicity
ofempirical
analyses
showing
public
withthepublic
ofdifferandoften
oftheexperiences
incommensurability
sity,
andoccupational
It
lines.
divided
race,nadonal,
inggroups,
alongclass,gender,
ofdifferent
andvariety
oftheexperiences
oftherichness
is as ifourknowledge
relevance
oftheconthenormative
withthepublic
while
hasincreased,
groups
a theory
hasreceded.
ofdemocracy
ceptwithin
1956.
Oxford
5. See C. Wright
Elite
Press,
Mills,ThePower
, NewYork:
University
ofsocial
is basedonhistheory
and'mass*
Mills*distinction
between
'public*
cableTV,hamradiostaItis doubtful
inthedaysofradiotalkshows,
control.
forms
ofaccesstomeansofcommunication
innumerable
tions,andother
by
would
holdwater.
ofthemasses
diverse
that
Mills'socialcontrol
theory
groups,
conversation
thecarriers
ofthisanonymous
Inthecontemporary
situation,
public
the
eventhecontrast
between
that
andvaried,
havebecome
so diffuse,
inchoate
inthe
ofthepublic
nature
thechanging
and'mass*
istooflattocapture
'public*
revolution.
ageoftheinformation
ofChicago
TheHuman
6. Hannah
Condition
, 8thedition,
Arendt,
University
Chicago:
in1958.)
Press,1973,pp.46ff.
(First
published
inmybook,
is presented
7.A moredetailed
account
ofmodernity
ofArendt's
theory
Arendt
California:
Hannah
TheReluctant
Modernism
Publications,
,
Sage
of
1996.
andHer
issuesin'ThePariah
ofthese
8. 1havepresented
a more
detailed
discussion
in
no.
Political
vol.
1995,
23,
1,
,
Shadow',
February
reprinted
pp.5-24;
Theory
Feminist
Park,
Arendt,
University
byBonnie
Honig,
ofHannah
Interpretations
PA:Pennsylvania
StateUniversity
1995,pp.83-105.
Press,
9. H.Arendt,
TheHuman
Condition
,p.56.
TheLiberal
10.See alsomyearlier
'ModelsofPublic
Arendt,
Space.Hannah
essay,
and
theSelfGender,
inSituating
andJuergen
Habermas',
Tradition,
Community
&
inContemporary
Ethics
Postmodernism
, NewYork& London:
Routledge
Presses,
1992,pp.89-121.
Polity
an
Political
onKant's
11.Seeinparticular,
Lectures
(ed.andwith
Arendt,
Philosophy
ofChicago
Press,
University
Chicago:
essaybyRonaldBeiner),
interpretive
inPolitical
SixExercises
PastandFuture.
,
1982;butalso,Between
Thought
Harthe
and
Crises
NewYork:Meridian
, NewYork:
Books,1961,
of Republic
Brace& Jovanovich,
1969.
court,
PastandFuture
inBetween
12.Hannah
'CrisisinCulture',
, pp.220-221.
Arendt,
undNeuwied:
derOeffentlichkeit
13.Juergen
Strukturwandel
, Darmstadt
Habermas,
with
the
intoEnglish
1962(transi,
Hermann
Luchterhand,
byThomas
Burger,
TheStructural
ofFrederick
assistance
Lawrence),
Transformation
ofthePublic

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Public
TheEmbattled
Sphere

21

AnInquiry
into
a Category
Mass:MIT
,Cambridge,
ofBourgeois
Society
Sphere.
1991.
Press,
14.Ibid.,pp.4ff.
TheStructural
15.Habermas,
, pp.28ff.
Transformation
ofthePublicSphere
TheStructural
16.Habermas,
, pp.36ff.
Transformation
ofthePublicSphere
's statement,
debate
'Public
wassupposed
totransform
17.SeeHabermas
voluntas
into
inthepublic
that
a ratio
ofprivate
cameintobeing
as the
competition
arguments
aboutwhatwasnecessary
intheinterest
consensus
ofair (inTheStructural
, p.83).
ofthePublic
Transformation
Sphere
theSelfGender,
andPostmodernism
18.See S. Benhabib,
in
Situating
Community
Ethics
& London:
& Polity
1992.
, NewYork
Presses,
Contemporary
Routledge
haveappeared
ofthissection
before
'Deliberative
asBenhabib,
19.Parts
Rationality
andModelsofDemocratic
in Constellations.
AnInternational
Legitimacy',
Journal
andSocialTheory
Arato
& SeylaBenhabib,
, ed.byAndrew
ofCritical
vol.1,no.1,April
a revised
andexpanded
version
canbefound
1994,
pp.26-53;
inDemocracy
andDifference.
theBoundaries
, ed.by
ofthePolitical
Contesting
N.J.:
Princeton
1996.
Princeton,
Press,
SeylaBenhabib,
University
20.Myformulation
iswholly
akintothat
'Deliberation
Cohen,
byJoshua
proposed
andDemocratic
in TheGoodPolity.
Normative
Legitimacy',
Analysis
ofthe
State
andPhilipPettit,
London:
BasilBlackwell,
, ed.byAlanHamlin
1989,
andSubstance
inDeliberative
pp.17-34;see alsoJoshCohen,'Procedure
inDemocracy
andDifference.
theBoundaries
Democracy',
Contesting
ofthe
Political.
21.Thisargument
thegeneral
lineofinterpretation
setforth
inSituating
presupposes
theSelfinchapters
anddocuments
toapply
the
1,2 and3 inparticular,
myeffort
ofdiscourse
topolitical-institutional
ethics
life.Independently
ofthe
principles
ofdiscourse
ethics
butinfascinating
toit,inrecent
project
affinity
yearsthere
hasbeena revival
ofdeliberative
models
ofdemocracy
theorists
among
political
andlegalphilosophers.
Seeinparticular
Frank
T.Michelman,
'Law'sRepublic',
YaleLawJournal,
vol.93, 1984,pp.l013ff;
CassR. Sunstein,
'Beyondthe
YaleLawJournal,
vol.97,1988,pp.1539.
Revival',
Republican
22.Hannah
'Crisis
inCulture',
inBetween
PastandFuture
: SixExercises
in
Arendt,
Political
, NewYork:
Meridian,
1961,pp.220-21.
Thought
23.Fora recent
statement
ofthetransformation
oftheconcept
ofthepublic
sphere
a centralised
from
toa decentred
seeJuergen
'IstderHerzmodel,
Habermas,
derRevolution
zumStillstand
Volkssouveraenitaet
alsVerschlag
gekommen?
fahren.
Einnormativer
derOeffentlichkeit?',
inDie Ideenvon1789,
Begriff
edited
furPhilosophie
BadHomburg,
Frankfurt:
byForum
1989,
Suhrkamp,
pp.7ff.
24.Inaddition
toJohn
Rawls'sPolitical
Liberalism
Columbia
, NewYork:
University
'OntheIdeaofFreePublic
Press,1993,seealsothemanuscript,
Reason'(lecturedelivered
atthe'Liberalism
andtheMoralLife'Conference
atCUNYin
'TheIdeaofanOverlapping
April1988);andthearticle
Consensus',
Oxford
Journal
fora development
ofRawls'sviews
, vol.7,no.1,1987,
ofLegalStudies
onthematter.
A great
dealmore
needs
tobesaidabout
thecontrast
ofthese
two
thanI canundertake
inthissection,
butseealsoThomas
projects
McCarthy,
'Kantian
Constructivism
andReconstructivism:
RawlsandHabermas
inDiayvol.105,no.1,October
logue',Ethics
1994,pp.44-64.
25.Rawls,
Political
Liberalism
, p.214.

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22

Theoria

Inhiscomments
onanearlier
version
26.SeeRawls,Political
Liberalism
, pp.223ff.
oftheDepartment
ofthisargument
delivered
inthePolitical
Theory
Colloquium
atHarvard
ofGovernment
Macedoconstrued
1994),Stephen
University
(Spring
these
remarks
tomeanthat
I wasattributing
toRawlssomekindofinfringement
orlimitation
offree
andexpression.
Amendment
Thisis
uponFirst
speech
rights
a misunderstanding
ofthephrase
Rawls'stheory
'restricted
agenda'.
Obviously
doesnotplacerestrictions
ofthemostextensive
basicliberty
upontheexercise
offreespeech
with
ofall;thelexicalordering
the
like
ofthe
liberty
compatible
twoprinciples
andLiberties
ofBasicRights
ofjustice
means
that
theprinciple
cannot
be simply
'restrictive
towhat
agenda',refers
abrogated.
Myphrase,
Rawls'sconception
as beingtheproper
domain
or
ofpublic
considers
reason
ofpublic
reason.
Thisislessa question
offreespeech
and
subject-matter
rights
limitations
than
a question
ofcivilsociety
and
ofone'ssocialtheory
uponthem
democratic
politics.
27.Rawls,Ibid.,p.227.
28.Rawls,Ibid.,p.215.
29.Rawls,Ibid.,p.220.
30.Rawls,Political
Liberalism
, p.215.
inSituating
31.SeeBenhabib,
theSelf,
121.
'ModelsofthePublic
pp.89Sphere',
oftheproject
32.Fora broadstatement
ofthetheoretical
andpolitical
of
significance
civilsociety
tocontemporary
seeJeanCohenandAndrew
Arato,
democracy,
Mass.:MITPress,1992.
andPolitical
CivilSociety
, Cambridge,
Theory
inthecontext
33.Thequestion
havetobedealtwith
oftheinstituofcoercion
would
thisframework
Itis within
as wellthat
tionalisation
ofdeliberative
processes.
and
would
issuesofclosure,
decision-making
prerogativesjurisdictions haveto
bearticulated.
thedis-tinction
between
the
34. Rawls,Political
Liberalism
, p. 231.Rawlsdraws
asopposed
tobeing
court
oftheConstitution
as the'highest'
interpreter
judicial
Bruce
the'final'interpreter
he
ofthehigher
Ackerman,
law,because,
following
thewillof'Wethe
a principle
wants
toretain
ofpopular
respecting
sovereignty,
People'.
andReconstructivism:
Rawlsand
35. ThomasMcCarthy,
'Kantian
Constructivism
Habermas
inDialogue',
Ethics
1994,p.52.
, vol.105,no.1,October
inEthics
36.SamuelSheffler,
'TheAppeal
ofPolitical
, vol.105,no.1,
Liberalism',
October
1994,p.16.
Rawlsupholds
a
37.Ina footnote
of'TheIdeaofPublicReason',
tohisdiscussion
whichleavesthedecision
version
oftheRoe v.Wadedecision
concerning
inthefirst
trimester
whether
a pregnancy
toterm
ornottocarry
uptothewoman
thepolitiandherphysician.
'atthisearly
Hemaintains
that
stageofpregnancy
andthisright
isrequired
togive
calvalueoftheequality
ofwomen
isoverriding,
that
inrestitsubstance
andforce':
Political
Liberalism
, p.243.Note,however,
ofthe'equality
of
ofabortion
trimester
inthefirst
ingtheright
uponthepremise
which
Court
oftheSupreme
from
thejudgment
Rawlshimself
women',
departs
See 'Roeetal. v.Wade',
thanequality.
basedthisright
rather
upon'privacy'
vol.
States
decided
22ndthrough
March
21st,1973,inUnited
Reports,
January
Whether
one
decision.
Blackmun's
section
VIIIofJustice
410;seeinparticular
ofherequalcitizenship
basestheright
ofa woman
toabortion
upona conception
theUS Constitution,
isno
under
ofallpersons
orupontheright
toprivacy
rights
Theseissuestooarepart
of
matter
ofdoctrinal
minor
orjudicial
interpretation.

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Public
TheEmbattled
Sphere

23

Thepointillustrates
thepublicdebateanddiscourse
aboutabortion
rights.
andbut
reasons
aremany
that'there
Rawls
's erroneous
nonpublic
assumption
Liberalism
onepublic
reason':
Political
, p.220.
Political
Liberalism
38.Rawls,
, pp.253-254.
Liberalism
39.Political
, p.254.
States
vol.478.
v.Hardwick
etal.' June
40. 'Bowers
30,1986,United
Reports,
ofMorality
toPolities',
'Practical
OntheRelation
Discourse:
41.Thomas
McCarthy,
inContemporary
: onReconstruction
andDeconstruction
inIdealsandIllusions
Mass.:MITPress,
Critical
1991,p. 182.
, Cambridge,
Theory
andphenomlikeJean-Franois
42.Indeed,
theorists
ofincommensurability
Lyotard,
the
andultiIris
all
like
impossibility
enological
positionality, Young, emphasise
ofthere
in
ofreversing
being'symmetry'
mately
undesirability
perspectives,
arenota
exhortations
Their
suchnormative
moral
isthat
argument
perspectives.
a gesoftheothers,
butrather
theirreducible
otherness
'alterity',
pleatorespect
otherness
and
tolikeness
whichreduces
tureofimperialistic
universalism
: Phrases
TheDifferend
in
tofungibility
(seeJ-F.
Lyotard,
incommensurability
ofMinVanDenAbbeele],
University
[trans,
Minneapolis:
Dispute
byGeorges
andtheOther:
'Communication
nesotaPress,1989;andIrisYoung,
Beyond
theBoundandDifference:
inDemocracy
Deliberative
Contesting
Democracy',
IrisYoung,
ariesofthePolitical
, ed.bySeylaBenhabib,
'Asympp.120-137;
in
andEnlarged
metrical
OnMoralRespect,
Wonder,
Though,
Reciprocity:
andDemocratic
AnInternational
Journal
Constellations:
,
Theory
ofCritical
ed. byAndrew
vol.3, no.3, January
AratoandSeylaBenhabib,
1997,pp.
criticisms
in
I havedealtwith
someaspects
ofIrisYoung's
340-364).
important
inDemoca Deliberative
ModelofDemocratic
'Toward
Benhabib,
Legitimacy',
, pp.81-84.
racyandDifference
43.SeeJ.DonaldMoon,
andTragic
MoralPluralism
ConCommunity:
Constructing
NJ:Princeton
note37
1993;T.A.McCarthy,
Press,
Princeton,
flicts,
University
andPolities',
ofMorality
in
aboveand'Practical
Discourse:
OntheRelation
inContemporary
IdealsandIllusions:
andDeconstruction
OnReconstruction
Critical
MA:MITPress,
on
1991;forcritical
, Cambridge,
Theory
perspectives
theconcept
inpolitics,
ofself-interest
seeBeyond
, ed.byJaneJ.
Self-Interest
1990.
ofChicago
Press,
Mansbridge,
Chicago:
University
44.SeeWilliam
Clarendon
Multicultural
,Oxford:
Press,
1995,
Kymlicka,
Citizenship
andWillKymlicka,
'ThreeFormsofGroup-Differentiated
in
Citizenship
andDifference
Canada',inDemocracy
, ed.bySeylaBenhabib,
pp.153-171.
45.CassR.Sunstein,
inHarvard
Theorized
LawReview,
Agreements',
'Incompletely
vol.108,no.7,May1995,pp.1733-1772.
46.Fora powerful
defence
ofprivacy
seeJean
Cohen,
rights
'Redescribing
Privacy:
andtheAbortion
Columbia
Journal
Difference,
Identity,
Controversy',
ofGenderandLaw, 3,no.1,1992,pp.43-1
17.
47.Inmyearlier
a Deliberative
ModelofDemocratic
'Toward
article,
(in
Legitimacy'
andDifference
I signalled
theques, ed.byBenhabib,
Democracy
pp.67-95),
valueandmoral
tionswhich
wouldarisethrough
irreconcilable
differences
(p.
the
deliberative
framehow
93,fn.41),butdidnotreally
democracy
explicate
workcouldaccommodate
workon 'Democracy
and
suchissues.Mycurrent
InSearch
oftheCivicPolity',
fr
Identity:
mystayattheInstitut
during
begun
dieWissenschaften
vomMenschen
inVienna
(Summer-Fall
1996),is focusing

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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

24

Theoria

andnormative
theperspective
ofcitizenship
incorontheseissuesfrom
rights
inregimes
ofcultural
differences.
poration
A Contribution
thePublicSphere:
totheCritique
of
48. NancyFraser,
Rethinking
inHabermas
andthePublic
,ed.byCraig
Actually
Sphere
Existing
Democracy',
MITPress,
Calhoun,
1991,pp.109-142.
Cambridge:

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