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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 39, Issue 3, July 2013

Jeremy Neill
Pages 449-476

Deliberative Institutions and Conversational Participation in Liberal Democracies

Deliberative democracy is an account of legitimacy and participation whose purposes are to produce justifiable political outcomes and to involve the citizens in productive conversations with each other. This article argues for a greater reliance on the efforts of local conversational participants in the institutional construction process. Because of their epistemic advantages, local participants are usually the agents who are most optimally positioned to construct the deliberative institutions. As such, institutionalized deliberation ought not to be seen as an orderly event that is capable of being planned out beforehand by philosophers, but rather as a complex process that flourishes when the conversation is developing—as much as is practicable—on its own.

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