Edited By Stephen Coleman, Anna Przybylska and Yves Sintomer
James Fishkin - Chapter Five. Reviving Deliberative Democracy: Reflections on Recent Experiments
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Chapter Five. Reviving Deliberative Democracy: Reflections on Recent Experiments
A central problem of democratic theory—and practice—has long been how to adapt a certain form of interpersonal communication— deliberation—to the large scale nation state: How to bring face to face deliberation both to the public dialogue, and to the decision processes of states or jurisdictions involving many thousands or millions of people. The problem arises because democratic values include not only deliberation, but also another key principle—political equality. And our principal strategies for implementing political equality have, in fact, undermined deliberation. The research program I call Deliberative Polling is an empirical investigation into institutional designs that attempt to combine both these values for public consultation.
This problem is really as old as democracy itself. We want to consider the views of all citizens equally—as required by political equality—but we want to do so when they have had good conditions for deliberating about them together—for considering opposing points of view and becoming informed on the issues they are consulted about. The outlines of a promising solution to this problem can be found in a form of democracy practiced in Ancient Athens, which got largely lost in the dust of history for more than two millennia.
Athens is often thought of as the home of direct democracy, but the pnyx, the hill where the Assembly met could...
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