Research Group in Analytic Philosophy

Pluralism and consensus in deliberative democracy

    José Luis Martí (UPF)

Date: 24 January 2018

Time: 15:00

Place: Seminari de Filosofia UB


A central discussion in the theory of deliberative democracy in recent decades has focused on whether democratic deliberation, and consequently those participating in it, should aim, at least ideally, for political consensus. Thus, pluralist deliberative democrats have criticized the consensualist approach to deliberative democracy for neglecting the moral importance of political disagreement because of their xation with reaching consensus. The debate between these two positions, initiated in the 1990s, has evolved in recent years toward more precision and sophistication. However, some vagueness and ambiguities remain in many of the contributions and prevent us from getting an exact idea of the object of discussion. This article starts making further distinctions about several types of agreement and disagreement in order to clarify much more precisely the exact niche of dispute between these two views. They do not need to disagree on the value of many forms of disagreement and consensus. Their dispute consists only in a controversy about the relative value of post-deliberative, operative, substantive, legislative, regulatory, or adjudicative reason-based consensus as opposed to the corresponding reason-based disagreement. Finally, the article argues that this relatively small niche is made smaller by certain considerations. The most important of them is that this controversy remains at a high theoretical level and lacks practical importance: it only a ects the kind of personal ideal commitment or aspiration that virtuous deliberators should have when entering into a deliberative process, and has no concrete consequent institutional implications.