Democratic Autonomy: Public Reasoning about the Ends of Policy

Paperback | April 14, 2004

byHenry S. Richardson

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What would our decision-making procedures look like if they were actually guided by the much-discussed concept of "deliberative democracy"? What does rule by the people for the people entail? And how can a modern government's reliance on administrative agencies be reconciled with this populistideal? What form must democratic reasoning take in the modern administrative state? Democratic Autonomy squarely faces these challenges to the deliberative democratic ideal. It identifies processes of reasoning that avert bureaucratic domination and bring diverse people into political agreement. To bridge our differences intelligently, Richardson argues, we cannot rely oninstrumentalist approaches to policy reasoning, such as cost-benefit analysis. Instead, citizens must arrive at reasonable compromises through fair, truth-oriented processes of deliberation. Using examples from programs as diverse as disability benefits and environmental regulation, he shows how theadministrative policy-making necessary to carrying out most legislation can be part of our deciding what to do. Opposing both those liberal theorists who have attacked the populist ideal and those neo-republican theorists who have given up on it, Richardson builds an account of popular rule that issensitive to the challenges to public deliberation that arise from relying on liberal constitutional guarantees, representative institutions, majority rule, and administrative rulemaking. Written in a nontechnical style and engaged with practical issues of everyday politics, this highly original and rigorous restatement of what democracy entails is essential reading for political theorists, philosophers, public choice theorists, constitutional and administrative lawyers, and policyanalysts.

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What would our decision-making procedures look like if they were actually guided by the much-discussed concept of "deliberative democracy"? What does rule by the people for the people entail? And how can a modern government's reliance on administrative agencies be reconciled with this populistideal? What form must democratic reasoning ...

Henry Richardson is at Georgetown University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 6.1 × 9.09 × 0.98 inPublished:April 14, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195150910

ISBN - 13:9780195150919

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"This is a stunningly good book. Professor Richardson has enriched Democratic Autonomy with more concrete detail and a better-informed apprehension of how the modern administrative state actually functions, than one finds in most works of political philosophy. It is still philosophy, however,but in the best sense - a finely crafted rigorous argument about deliberation, freedom, and collective decision-procedures. As a result, it offers a more convincing vindication of the idea of popular self-government for modern society than any work of democratic theory published in recent years."--Jeremy Waldron, Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law, and Director of the Center for Law and Philosophy, Columbia Law School