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Fr. 906

June 28, 2019

A necessary follow-up to the question “why democracy?” is “which democracy?”. Indeed, the latter may even form part and parcel of the former: “why this democracy?”. Cunningham (2002) catalogues various forms of democracy: liberal, elite, republican, participatory, deliberative, radical, pragmatist, and so on. For a long time, I had trouble situating Stout in Cunningham’s catalogue. Though he appeals to the civic republican value of freedom as non-domination and endorses participatory measures like broad-based organizing, he also links the practices of democratic culture with values from deliberative democracy (democratic conversation) and retains familiar liberal freedoms and rights, institutions and separations, all while advocating an experimental approach to democratic practice. In the end, his general orientation is pragmatist through and through: adopting and adapting materials to fit the purpose at hand. For such an orientation, catalogues are of some though limited help.

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