Motivating Reflective Citizens: Deliberative Democracy and the Internal Deliberative Virtues

Paper Title:

Motivating Reflective Citizens: Deliberative Democracy and the Internal Deliberative Virtues

Journal Title:

The Journal of Value Inquiry

Published Date:




Deliberative democracy involves the consideration and justification of the various reasons on which we base political decisions.1 It is a political framework by which citizens can discuss their beliefs and values and through deliberation find common ground on the important issues which they face as a community. Motivating citizens to reason deliberatively is, therefore, extremely important. Unless citizens want to engage with ideas and beliefs, and to use their cognitive skills wisely, there is little chance of this model of politics succeeding. In order to encourage engagement of this kind, deliberative democracy relies upon several virtues to encourage and guide the involvement of citizens. There are two distinct types of virtue which are of value to the deliberative process. The first and most commonly discussed has to do with external deliberative virtues. They are virtues of deliberative speech, which regulate the deliberative process between individuals, and are primarily oriented toward other people. This type of virtue includes virtues such as publicity, accountability and reciprocity, each of which acts by making it procedurally unacceptable for citizens to speak with others in undesirable and essentially un-deliberative ways. It is hoped that such virtues will decrease instances where incompatible
The second, and more neglected of the two types of virtues, has to do with internal deliberative virtues. Internal deliberative virtues are virtues of deliberative thought. They are employed in regulating the deliberative process within individuals and are primarily oriented toward the self. They include virtues like humility and hope and might be contrasted with, but also complement, external deliberative virtues. They are essential for motivating citizens to consciously employ their internal deliberative skills, such as deductive and metacognitive reasoning, so that they can interpret, understand and evaluate values and beliefs on a much deeper level than they otherwise would. This, in turn, enables them to make collective decisions and discover practical solutions to the problems that their community encounters.
Internal deliberative virtues do not receive the attention they deserve. Instead, their external counterparts tend to be the central motivational components of deliberative democratic accounts. The internal virtues such as hope, humility and fidelity have been sidelined and have not been given a role in modern society. In addition, other internal virtues like reflexivity also do not receive a sufficiently central role in deliberative democracy and are not held in the same esteem as the external virtues. Internal virtues could be used more effectively by deliberative theorists. They could be motivating individuals to think more effectively about the values and beliefs which they, and their fellow citizens, hold.

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