By Christian F. Rostboll

The 1st sustained examine the connection among deliberative democratic thought and the subject of freedom.

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Or, more precisely, the aim of reaching a consensus based on the best available information and reasons, that is, a rationally motivated consensus, might require that an existing, empirical consensus first be challenged. The objection I wish to counter is that the aim of reaching understanding in deliberation makes it impotent in face of illegitimate forms of consensus. 16 Or, to take a more fashionable example, the multicultural character of contemporary society might make every consensus seem to be an expression of the majority culture and hence oppressive and exclusionary.

But it is crucial to see that these instances are embedded in a larger context of deliberative practices. A legislator might not change his mind or be willing to learn when confronted with her opponent on the floor of Congress or Parliament, but this does not prevent her from learning from her broader participation in and observance of public deliberation in civil society. 6. Finally, deliberative democracy cannot do without aggregation. No proponent of deliberative democracy believes that we can do away with mechanisms of aggregation in complex modern societies.

But what is happening in these struggles is in fact that oppressed groups are claiming that they do not enjoy equal freedom. To be sure, the protection of the private sphere does not always protect the powerful and privileged, as is evident from, for example, the privacy protection that Roe v. Wade (the 1973 Supreme Court decision that protects the right to abortion) affords women in the United States. This is just to illustrate that boundaries of negative freedom, in order to afford equal freedom, must be subject to continued discursive justification.

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