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Reasonable Democracy: Jurgen Habermas and the Politics of Discourse

by Chambers, Simone

  • ISBN: 9780801483301
  • ISBN10: 0801483301

Reasonable Democracy: Jurgen Habermas and the Politics of Discourse

by Chambers, Simone

  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publish date: 12/01/2003
  • ISBN: 9780801483301
  • ISBN10: 0801483301
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Description: In Reasonable Democracy, Simone Chambers describes, explains, and defends a discursive politics inspired by the recent work of Jurgen Habermas. In addition to comparing Habermas's ideas with other non-Kantian liberal theories in clear and accessible prose, Chambers develops her own views regarding the role of discourse and its importance within liberal democracies. Beginning with a deceptively simple question, "Why is talking better than fighting?" Chambers explains how the idea of talking provides a rich and compelling view of morality, rationality, and political stability. She considers talking as a way for people to respect each other as moral agents, as a way to reach reasonable and legitimate solutions to disputes, and as a way to reproduce and strengthen shared understandings. In the course of this argument, she defends modern universalist ethics, communicative rationality, and what she calls a discursive political culture, a concept that locates the political power of discourse and deliberation not so much in institutions of democratic decision-making as in the type of conversations that go on around these institutions. While discourse and deliberation cannot replace voting, bargaining, or compromise, Chambers argues, it is important to maintain a background moral conversation in which to anchor other activities. As an extended illustration or "case study", Chambers examines the conversation about language rights that has been going on for twenty years between English and French Quebec residents. A culture of dialogue has proved a positive and powerful force in resolving some of the disagreements between these two linguistic communities.
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