Division, Democracy and Deliberation

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:
Division, Democracy and Deliberation

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According to John Stuart Mill, a democracy cannot succeed unless its citizens share a common national identity. This chapter begins by highlighting two main reasons why this is so — in the absence of a common national identity, citizens, firstly, will not see themselves as bound by a single political authority or, secondly, be motivated to do their part in carrying the burdens of self-government. It argues, however, that although Mill's basic claim has troubling implications for divided societies aiming to make the transition from conflict to democracy, a more complete assessment of this issue needs to distinguish between two main forms that national identity can take — civic and ethnic. The chapter then turns to the case for democracy in general and deliberative democracy in particular. Following Dahl, it maintains that any compelling defence of democracy will fall back on the values of intrinsic equality and personal autonomy. Although those values are not easy to apply in divided societies, they can be formulated in a way that ensures political equality not just between conflicting ethnic groups, but also between citizens generally. Against this background, the chapter offers an extended definition of deliberative democracy that elaborates those values in terms of two key normative requirements, namely reciprocity and publicity.

Keywords: John Stuart Mill; national identity; divided societies; deliberative democracy; inequality; personal autonomy; reciprocity; publicity

Chapter.  10264 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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