Locating the Discussion

Ian O'flynn

in Deliberative Democracy and Divided Societies

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780748621446
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672004 | DOI:
Locating the Discussion

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This chapter explores how normative and empirical theories might be successfully combined in order to make informed political decisions in divided societies. First it considers the theory of consociational democracy as elaborated by Arend Lijphart, which is one of the most important approaches to institutional design in divided societies. Although it is primarily empirical, Lijphart's formulation also contains an important normative dimension. The chapter then examines one of the most important normative theories to emerge in recent decades, namely John Rawls's political liberalism. Political liberalism, and especially the account of public reason that it embodies, has had an enormous influence on the development of deliberative democracy. The focus is on how Rawls negotiates a path between a concern for independent justification and a concern for political stability. Central to his approach is an ideal of public justification according to which citizens should look to the kinds of political principles and values that we might normally expect to find implicit in the political culture of a democratic society when justifying collective decisions. It is argued that political liberalism offers a convincing way of thinking about the relation between empirical and normative considerations.

Keywords: divided societies; consociational democracy; Arend Lijphart; institutional design; John Rawls; political liberalism; normative theories

Chapter.  8459 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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