I have just spent a very interesting two days at a conference sponsored
by the Institute for Philosophy
& Public Policy and the Fundacion Nueva Generacion Argentina on
the subject of "Deliberative Democracy: Principles and Cases."
Essentially, the conference brought together four groups of experts
into fruitful dialogue:
- The Fundacion sent Argentines who are deeply embroiled in their country’s
convulsive political crisis.
- Innovative grantmakers and aid experts talked about new approaches
to development assistance that help democracy (or good governance) and
- Practitioners who organize human-scale deliberative experiments (e.g.,
Carolyn Lukensmeyer of America
Speaks) talked about their work. Also, Gianpaolo Baiocchi contributed
ethnographic research on participatory budgeting in Porto Allegre (which
is turning into the Mecca for progessive and populist reformers); and
Andrew Selee described participatory and deliberative experiments in
- Several American theorists and social scientists gave papers on deliberative
democracy. Jane Mansbridge argued for the significance of practice for
deliberative theory, drawing some theoretical conclusions about the
importance of self-interest and passion. Henry Richardson talked about
the corrupting effects of being powerless, and the discipline that comes
from having to make practical decisions together. Noelle McAfee distinguished
three types of deliberative democracy. And Joel Siegel provided evidence
that democracy contributes to economic growth in developing countries.