Representing Mute Interests

Robert E. Goodin

in Reflective Democracy

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780199256174
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599354 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Political Theory

Representing Mute Interests

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By imagining ourselves in the place of others, ‘democratic deliberation within’ enables us to bring their interests to bear on democratic decision‐making. Democratically desirable though that always is, it is absolutely essential when the others are in no position to speak for themselves in the ordinary course of democratic deliberations. The mute interests discussed in this chapter are future generations and non‐human interests (natural objects). ‘Democratic deliberation within’ once again provides a mechanism for including those most dramatically hard‐to‐include interests within democratic deliberations; even if those interests cannot speak for themselves, present people can imaginatively project themselves into the position of others, be they in future times or different species. That they should do so follows from the familiar liberal democratic principle of ‘equal protection of interests’, modified in two ways: on one side, that familiar liberal democratic value premise can and should be buttressed by an expanded view of what sorts of interests should count, specifically, natural objects and future generations are shown to have interests that are as deserving of protection as are those of current humans; on the other side, familiar liberal propositions about ‘equal protection of interests’ can and should be stretched to admit novel mechanisms for politically securing that goal, specifically, notions of ‘encapsulated interests’, discredited in other connections, can be rehabilitated for purposes of protecting future‐oriented and non‐human values.

Keywords: democratic deliberation within; encapsulated interests; equal protection of interests; future generations; mute interests; non‐human interests; value democracy

Chapter.  7408 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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