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Ackerman and Fishkin: Deliberation day

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Ackerman and Fishkin. 2002. Deliberation day. Journal of Political Philosophy 10: 129-52.

In Brief

This article presents a normative proposal to improve American democracy: Deliberation Day. One week before every Election Day, voters can come to Deliberation Day (a national holiday) to listen to a live, televised debate between the national candidates, then discuss it in groups of 15, then listen to local party leaders respond to questions before a group of 500, then discuss again in their group of 15. Participants will each receive $500 if they come and also vote the next week.

Comments and Criticism

A nice idea, but very utopian. The trouble with this article is that the authors assume everybody is like them, but simply struggling for time. Not everybody is as open minded as they are. Many would not come, or, if they did, would bring a laptop and do something else (to earn the $150). Fights would break out. Passion would reign as much as reason.

Indeed, most of the criticisms of "rational deliberation" made by Elster apply directly to this article.

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