Public Action Without Reasons

face of a prisoner

The significance of communication for action is not limited to what can be publicly justified. For a person to justify publicly not having children, or having any particular number of children, would be awkward and difficult. Nonetheless, demographic trends have enormous public significance. Persons found companies or charitable organizations for a wide range of reasons. Those reasons cannot necessarily be understand publicly. The founders may just have really wanted to do what they did. The choices persons make in voting in public elections may not actually hinge on public debate among the candidates and the issues. Neither in theory nor especially in practice does democratic governance encompass only actions that can be publicly justified. The secret ballot provides a mechanism for avoiding the shaming and intimidating of persons who cannot effectively justify publicly the political choices that they make.

The scholarly ideal of deliberative democracy celebrates communication that does not encompass ordinary, personal communication in real life. Publicly significant choices depend on more than communication associated with deliberative democracy. Communication with family and friends has public significance apart from the communicative ideals of deliberative democracy.

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