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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 25, 2009

Gender, Diversity, and Difference

Joshua W. Houston
Pages 241-253

Contestation and Deliberation Within
Dryzek, Goodin, and the Possibility of Legitimacy

In this paper, I pursue a dialogue between John Dryzek and Robert E. Goodin’s positions on deliberative democracy’s ‘problem of economy’ with an eye toward a synthesis that could lead us toward a conception of deliberation that counters the threat to legitimacy posed by this problem. By sketching a view that makes the two accounts more consonant by casting discourses as intersubjectively constituted, with deliberation as the contestation of intersubjectively constituted discourses in the public sphere, we ought to be able to describe democratic legitimacy as being linked to the epistemic quality of deliberation while not succumbing to the problem of economy. This would thereby maintain deliberative democracy’s critical edge and feasibility and legitimize the deliberative democratic model as a standpoint to critically evaluate social relations and collective decisions, such that our politics can be rendered more just.

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