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.

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, 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.

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.

Reason, Religion, and Democracy

Reason, Religion, and Democracy

The rise of religious fundamentalism in different parts of the world in recent years and its association with terrorism has led to renewed interest in the nature of religion and its compatibility with Western institutions. Much of the focus of this new interest has contrasted religion and science as systems of knowledge. This book also emphasizes the difference between religion and science as means for understanding causal relationships, but it focuses much more heavily on the challenge religious extremism poses for liberal democratic institutions. The treatment contains a discussion of human psychology, describes the salient characteristics of all religions, and contrasts religion and science as systems of thought. Historical sketches are used to establish a link between modernity and the use of the human capacity for reasoning to advance human welfare. The book describes the conditions under which democratic institutions can advance human welfare, and the nature of constitutional rights as protectors of individual freedoms. Extremist religions are shown to pose a threat to liberal democracy, a threat that has implications for immigration and education policies and the definition of citizenship.

Veil Politics in Liberal Democratic States

Veil Politics in Liberal Democratic States

An exciting and challenging account of the development and sustainability of the liberal democratic state.

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

What Democrats Talk about when They Talk about God

Religious Communication in Democratic Party Politics

What Democrats Talk about when They Talk about God

What Democrats Talk about When They Talk about God is a collection of essays on the religious communication of members of the Democratic Party, past and present-in office, while campaigning, and in their public and private writing. While many books on the market address issues at the intersection of church and state, none to date have focused exclusively on Democrats as important participants in the dialogue about religion and politics.