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Deliberative Democracy and Divided Societies$
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Ian O'Flynn

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748621446

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621446.001.0001

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Locating the Discussion

Locating the Discussion

(p.13) Chapter 1 Locating the Discussion
Deliberative Democracy and Divided Societies

Ian O'flynn

Edinburgh University Press

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

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