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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 19, 2003

Environmental Philosophy as Social Philosophy

Greg Johnson
Pages 179-191

On the Importance of Reversibility in Deliberative Democracy

In this essay I argue that proponents of deliberative democracy too quickly assume that the idea of reciprocity is the best moral foundation. I further argue that a more fundamental ground, namely that of reversibility, is overlooked, a ground that transforms the nature of deliberative interaction. Thus, my aim is to develop this alternate ground and indicate how it augments the notion of democratic reciprocity. I demonstrate how the appeal to reason by proponents of deliberative democracy is an epistemic ground from which a notion of reciprocity emerges that regulates what is and is not deliberatively acceptable. I contend, however, that such a reliance on this epistemic ground of reason overlooks a more fundamental ground without which reciprocity is impossible. This other ground that I develop is what I call the phenomenological ground of reversibility.

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