Democratic Reason

Politics, Collective Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many

Democratic Reason

Individual decision making can often be wrong due to misinformation, impulses, or biases. Collective decision making, on the other hand, can be surprisingly accurate. In Democratic Reason, Hélène Landemore demonstrates that the very factors behind the superiority of collective decision making add up to a strong case for democracy. She shows that the processes and procedures of democratic decision making form a cognitive system that ensures that decisions taken by the many are more likely to be right than decisions taken by the few. Democracy as a form of government is therefore valuable not only because it is legitimate and just, but also because it is smart. Landemore considers how the argument plays out with respect to two main mechanisms of democratic politics: inclusive deliberation and majority rule. In deliberative settings, the truth-tracking properties of deliberation are enhanced more by inclusiveness than by individual competence. Landemore explores this idea in the contexts of representative democracy and the selection of representatives. She also discusses several models for the "wisdom of crowds" channeled by majority rule, examining the trade-offs between inclusiveness and individual competence in voting. When inclusive deliberation and majority rule are combined, they beat less inclusive methods, in which one person or a small group decide. Democratic Reason thus establishes the superiority of democracy as a way of making decisions for the common good.

Democracy and Diversity

Democracy and Diversity

The chapters in this book deal with different, though related, topics concerning the tense relationship between democracy and diversity. On the one hand, social diversity represents an opportunity, widening the horizon of social options and perspectives of innovation, but, on the other hand, it creates problems for the social cohesion and peaceful coexistence of many groups, be they majority or minority. The chapters depart from the intrinsic connection between democracy and diversity – and the unavoidable challenges that pluralism poses to decision-making procedures – investigating, from different perspectives, how the normative requirement of fully respecting agents’ reflexive agency impacts the revision of democratic decision-making procedures and the way in which institutions react to citizens’ justice-based claims. All the contributions share the theoretical insight that diversity is one of the raisons d’être of democracy, and, still, all acknowledge that the fact of pluralism poses challenges to the legitimacy of democratic procedures of decision-making. Indeed, if citizens had the same values and preferences, collective decisions would be easily achieved and the institution of democratic procedures would be redundant. Yet the wide pluralism of doctrines, habits, social standards, and conceptions of the goods typical of contemporary societies has often led citizens to challenge the legitimacy of democratic decisions because these choices do not fit their preferences or values. To address these challenges following recent accounts of democratic decision-making, in this volume, different strategies are introduced, defended, and criticized in order to outline a perspective that is able to guide actual decision-making processes (guidance), define standards that everyone has equal opportunity to fulfil (inclusion), and grant that citizens exercise their reflexive control on the whole democratic system (reflexivity). The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of the Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.

Collective Wisdom

Principles and Mechanisms

Collective Wisdom

James Madison wrote, 'Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob'. The contributors to this volume discuss and for the most part challenge this claim by considering conditions under which many minds can be wiser than one. With backgrounds in economics, cognitive science, political science, law and history, the authors consider information markets, the internet, jury debates, democratic deliberation and the use of diversity as mechanisms for improving collective decisions. At the same time, they consider voter irrationality and paradoxes of aggregation as possibly undermining the wisdom of groups. Implicitly or explicitly, the volume also offers guidance and warnings to institutional designers.

Radical Democracy

Politics Between Abundance and Lack

Radical Democracy

The contributors here discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the two dominant approaches to radical democracy: theories of abundance inspired by Gilles Deleuze and theories of lack inspired by Jacques Lacan. They examine the idea of radical democracy from a wide variety of perspectives: identity/difference, the public sphere, social movements, nature, popular culture, right wing populism, and political economy. In addition, the volume relates the work of contemporary thinkers such as Deleuze, Lacan, Derrida and Foucault to classical thinkers such as Spinoza, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche.

Deliberative Democracy

Essays on Reason and Politics

Deliberative Democracy

Ideals of democratic participation and rational self-government have long informed modern political theory. As a recent elaboration of these ideals, the concept of deliberative democracy is based on the principle that legitimate democracy issues from the public deliberation of citizens. This remarkably fruitful concept has spawned investigations along a number of lines. Areas of inquiry include the nature and value of deliberation, the feasibility and desirability of consensus on contentious issues, the implications of institutional complexity and cultural diversity for democratic decision making, and the significance of voting and majority rule in deliberative arrangements.The anthology opens with four key essays--by Jon Elster, Jürgen Habermas, Joshua Cohen, and John Rawls--that helped establish the current inquiry into deliberative models of democracy. The nine essays that follow represent the latest efforts of leading democratic theorists to tackle various problems of deliberative democracy. All the contributions address tensions that arise between reason and politics in a democracy inspired by the ideal of achieving reasoned agreement among free and equal citizens. Although the authors approach the topic of deliberation from different perspectives, they all aim to provide a theoretical basis for a more robust democratic practice. Contributors James Bohman, Thomas Christiano, Joshua Cohen, Jon Elster, David Estlund, Gerald F. Gaus, Jürgen Habermas, James Johnson, Jack Knight, Frank I. Michelman, John Rawls, Henry S. Richardson, Iris Marion Young

Multiculturalism and American democracy

Multiculturalism and American democracy

Is it the face of twenty-first-century America or merely a passing intellectual fad? The contributors to this volume address the pros and cons of multiculturalism and explore its relationship with liberal democracy. Offering viewpoints on multiculturalism from the perspectives of political theory, history, philosophy, and fiction, they help to explain what the multiculturalism controversy is about and clarify the concerns it should raise for thoughtful citizens.

Reason, Freedom, and Democracy in Islam

Essential Writings of Abdolkarim Soroush

Reason, Freedom, and Democracy in Islam

The author, one of the leading revisionist thinkers of the Muslim world, examines such matters as the inevitability of change in religion, the necessity of freedom of belief, and the compatibility of Islam with democracy.

The Mild Voice of Reason

Deliberative Democracy and American National Government

The Mild Voice of Reason

In recent years, many Americans and more than a few political scientists have come to believe that democratic deliberation in Congress—whereby judgments are made on the merits of policies reflecting the interests and desires of American citizens—is more myth than reality. Rather, pressure from special interest groups, legislative bargaining, and the desire of incumbents to be reelected are thought to originate in American legislative politics. While not denying such influences, Joseph M. Bessette argues that the institutional framework created by the founding fathers continues to foster a government that is both democratic and deliberative, at least to some important degree. Drawing on original research, case studies of policymaking in Congress, and portraits of American lawmakers, Bessette demonstrates not only the limitations of nondeliberative explanations for how laws are made but also the continued vitality of genuine reasoning on the merits of public policy. Bessette discusses the contributions of the executive branch to policy deliberation, and looks at the controversial issue of the proper relationship of public opinion to policymaking. Informed by Bessette's nine years of public service in city and federal government, The Mild Voice of Reason offers important insights into the real workings of American democracy, articulates a set of standards by which to assess the workings of our governing institutions, and clarifies the forces that promote or inhibit the collective reasoning about common goals so necessary to the success of American democracy. "No doubt the best-publicized recent book-length work on Congress is columnist George Will's diatribe in praise of term limits in which the core of his complaint is that Congress does not deliberate in its decision-making. Readers who are inclined to share that fantasy would do well to consult the work of Joseph M. Bessette. He turns up massive amounts of material attesting to the centrality of deliberation in congressional life."—Nelson W. Polsby, Presidential Studies Quarterly

Reason, Social Myths and Democracy

Reason, Social Myths and Democracy

Dedicated "to the memory of a Great Adversary," this 1940 work is a startling clarion call to embrace reason and rationality as the only way to solve social problems. Hook discusses: [ democracy and scientific method [ the meaning behind nonsense [ the folklore of capitalism [ ideas as weapons [ integral humanism [ science, atheism, and mythology [ science and the "new obscurantism" [ the mythology of class science [ and much more.

Reason and Democracy

Reason and Democracy

Reason and Democracy breaks new ground in providing a plausible philosophical basis for the communitarian view of a healthy democracy as the rational pursuit of common purposes by free and equal citizens. Thomas A. Spragens Jr. argues that the most persistent paradigms of Western political rationality originated in classical philosophy, took their modern expression in the philosophies of Kant and Mill, and terminated in Max Weber’s pairing of purely technical rationality with arbitrary ends. Drawing on recent work in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of language, combined with appropriate analogies in political thought and action, Spragens maintains that it is possible to discern the outlines of a philosophically cogent and morally beneficial concept of rational practice on the part of a political community. This possibility, he contends, provides a philosophical basis for liberal democratic politics that is superior to utilitarian and deontological accounts.