Public Deliberation Not Only Means of Democratic Governance

face of a prisoner

Those seeking to exercise their reason to serve the common good should seek more appreciation for different practices of communication. Just chatting with family and friends surely is not a good substitute for public deliberation and the accumulation of knowledge. Yet the reality of everyday life is also inescapable. Human nature, personal histories, material interests, intellectual investments, and social classes all affect the structure of public deliberation and the evolution of knowledge. Comforting belief in the existence of an ideal style of public deliberation, in a realm apart from the usual interests of everyday life, is harmful when it prevents adequate public valuation of communication among family and friends. A lesson from the history of suppressing prisoners’ communication is not to give up on public deliberation, but to interconnect better democratic governance to prisoners’ ordinary communication with their families and friends.

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