Cultivating autonomy : a case for deliberative and associational democracy
The thesis aims to justify liberal democracy on the cultivation of autonomy amongst its citizens. The potential of deliberative democracy and associational democracy to achieve this cultivation are then critically evaluated It is suggested that autonomy has intrinsic value and an intrinsic connection to democracy, particularly in Western democracies. Deliberative democracy is justified as the most suitable model of decision-making to cultivate autonomy due to its enhancement of public reason, speaker and hearer autonomy. All three factors therefore encourage reflective preference transformation. which is the defining mark of deliberative democracy. A perfectionist case of deliberative democracy is further presented and associations in civil society are evaluated as a location of deliberative democracy. It is argued that the associations can achieve this by fulfilling four functions: they can be venues for subsidiarity; provide information and representation; be schools of democracy; and locations for governance. The fulfilment of these functions enables the institutionalisation of deliberative democracy to overcome some of the threats of complexity, pluralism, size and inequality. However, not all associations can achieve all four functions and in order to do so, they must be internally democratic. The associations also need to pursue a dualist strategy in relation to the state. This involves a critical public sphere with informal networks of communication based upon the norms of deliberative democracy. The public sphere should then set the agenda for legislation through the `outside access model'. The second strand of the dualist strategy is to gain access to legislative arenas. Associational mediating forums with power devolved from the state, again based on the norms of deliberative democracy, are advocated as a suitable method by which to achieve this. This associational model differs from the neo-pluralist model of interest groups because it is based upon the norms of deliberative democracy and can therefore promote the common good and avoid the `mischief of factionalism'. Finally, a case study of the Stanage Forum is considered I suggest that it approximates the associational mediating forums and highlights where trade-offs between the ideal and practice need to be, can be, should be and will be made.