The Requirement of Reciprocity

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:
The Requirement of Reciprocity

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This chapter explores the requirement of reciprocity in greater detail, especially with respect to its implications for democracy in divided societies. More specifically, its purpose is to explore this requirement with respect to the task of creating the kinds of shareable goods that could potentially lead citizens to experience a stronger sense of common national identity. It starts by comparing and contrasting the requirement of reciprocity with three alternative methods by which political disagreements might potentially be resolved: force, bargaining and voting. Although each of those alternative forms certainly has its place within a democratic process, reciprocity is nevertheless essential to dealing with the problems that divided societies typically face. The chapter then considers how, by constraining the kinds of reasons that might be advanced for or against a proposed law or public policy, reciprocity can help express our equal membership in the polity. In so doing, it can aid in creating the kinds of shareable goods that could provide the basis for a stronger sense of common national identity. Finally, it explores the content of the reasons that might meet this requirement. The approach taken is basically Rawlsian in that it stresses the importance of appealing to general political principles and values when justifying proposals.

Keywords: reciprocity; democracy; divided societies; national identity; force; bargaining; voting

Chapter.  9908 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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