Deliberative Democracy or AgnosticPluralism. As mentioned briefly before, the interest fordeliberative democracy bloomed partly because deliberative democrats wanted toproperly participate in the decision-making and were criticising the aggregativemodel for limiting that. They believed that deliberative democrats alsocriticised the model because they felt that by deliberating different issues,views and policies it would demand a deeper understanding of democracy.
Although deliberative democrats weren’t the only oneswho wanted to introduce an alternative to the dominant aggravated model, theywere quite unique in their perspective. Unlike other critics, not only did theywant popular participations in the decision-making process, which was earlier discouragedor limited by liberals, they were keen on providing allegiance to liberaldemocracy by combining democratic sovereignty with liberal institutions.They did so by reinterpreting popular sovereignty in newterms and branding it as “communicatively generated power”, this they believedwould abolish any danger posed to liberal views.
However, critics todeliberative democracy argues that by giving everybody in society a chance tospeak their voice it would also be hard to have the rational consensus theybelieve it would entail. Instead, society would see what can only be describedas a negative force of people who openly challenges democracy as a whole, hencethe danger to the liberal views of societies. (Mouffe, 2000) John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas are two schools thatprimarily can be classified as the main views in deliberative democracy.
Rawls and Habermas agree on some views such as that public-and private autonomy goes hand in hand but argues that the public domain is nota neutral ground. By potentially demoting pluralism to a non-public domain, fundamentalissues such as justice or basic principles would be separated from itsconsequences. Habermas argued that only his approach would be ableto think individually of liberal rights and public autonomy, he means that thekey to a well-functioning society is legitimacy and that individual rightswould benefit from public autonomy.
Rawls on the other hand thinks justice of being thekey to a well-functioning society and that unless democratic sovereigntysubordinated to liberal rights then that government would not be legitimate. (Mouffe,2000)According to Mouffe (2000), neither of them coulddeliver because they are ignoring the fact that there are fundamental tensionsbetween individual rights and that of democratic sovereignty and that it ishard to eliminate one or the other, as they are both constitutive of liberaldemocracy. AgnosticModel of Democracy The agnostic model of democracy was introduced becauseof the shortcomings of the deliberative approach.
Advocates of agnosticdemocracy argued that the former approach didn’t understand the nature ofpolitics and pluralism, where power is not to be seen as an external factor todemocracy nor as the enemy but more of a factor that would benefit democracy. In order to understand democracy, you would have toagree on the fact that any form of social objectivity is equal to politicalorder, thus the need to convergence between objectivity and power.There would also have to be a distinction of what Mouffe(2000), calls “the political” and the “politics”. The “political” being the social relations and activitiesinherited by humans and the” politics” being the collective practises,discourse and institutions that allow people to coexist.
Politics always aims to unite despite the notions ofthere being an “us” and “them”, these terms being the people and those in power.Eradicating these terms are impossible but theagnostic pluralisms purposes is to use the idea of “them” and turning it froman enemy to an adversary, that being “…someone whose ideas we combat but whoseright to defend those ideas we do not put in question” (Mouffe, 2000; 15) To conclude, agnostic democrats believe that because anadversary is a legitimate opponent, thus indicating that if anyone is in power,then that is legitimate because it has been consented by an electorate, whichin turns makes this approach a legitimate form of government.