Public reason and history in contemporary deliberative practice. Legacy and limits of liberal categories in the governance of democratic pluralism

Massimo Caon


Public reason’s paradigm, configured by John Rawls in Political Liberalism [1st Or. ed. 1993, 2005], is
increasingly criticised for its limits in regulating a deliberative praxis able to deal with democratic pluralism. In fact,
deliberative theorists usually tend to stretch and modify the ideal of a political use of public reason in order to point out
the consequences of Rawls’ theses in multicultural societies, so that the philosopher’s paradigm turns out to be weakened
from a normative point of view; this approach paves the way to aporias as the one between cultural minorities’ freedom
of expression and normativity of communication. In the first section of the present article I begin my analysis from a
recent publication by Monique Deveaux [Deliberative Democracy and Multiculturalism, 2018] to study an example of
public reason’s theoretical weakening and its aporetic effects; in the second section new research perspectives are
hypothesised in order to offer an alternative proposal to the removal of liberalism’s criteria in multicultural democracies.
More specifically, I propose the concept of “history” as a point of balance between democratic inclusion and normativity
of communication in contemporary liberal democracy


Multiculturalism; Deliberative democracy; Public communication; History; Normative comparison

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ISSN 2282-0043 - Registered at the Court of Rome on Nov. 8, 2012, no. 305/2012

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