The Deliberative Impulse is a book that is both timely and original. It is timely, among other reasons, because its central topic – the challenge of “triggering the deliberative impulse” and “motivating discourse in divided societies” – has seemingly never been so urgent. Societies remain as divided as ever (in some cases they seem more divided), while genuine, well-intentioned, democratic deliberation looks – at least to some observers – to be in decline. The book is original because it provides a clear, philosophically sophisticated, and beautifully written response to a question that has been more or less overlooked in the vast and growing literature on deliberative democracy. A great deal of attention has been paid among deliberative democrats to questions that arise about the quality of deliberation, to conceptions of deliberation under ideal conditions, to deliberation’s ends and limits, to questions that arise about admissible versus inadmissible forms of deliberation, and so on. Yet largely overlooked is what Smith plausibly considers a prior and more fundamental question: the “vexing” question of how to get citizens to the deliberative table in the first place (p. 1). This is an important question indeed, and Smith tackles it compellingly and admirably.
Journal of Moral Philosophy – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2013
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