The Sustainability of Deliberative Democracy; How Political Decay can be Avoided through Mutual Recognition of Reasonableness
My claim is that democracy can prevent some moral disagreements from becoming unsustainable political disagreements. I argue that there is first a normative requirement to refrain from implementing an unsustainable policy. Such a policy is one that is too objectionable to some group so as to bring about political decay. This normative requirement comes from the connection between proper truth-aiming and the existence of a democratic process. There is second a pragmatic requirement that comes from what it is to hold someone as one’s epistemic peer. Regarding someone as one’s peer implies that one should give some weight to one’s opponent strong objections in one’s pragmatic deliberation about what ought collectively to be done. I differentiate between what one should believe and what one should accept as a premise in practical reasoning. I explain how this epistemic argument for sustainability is to be differentiated from a moral argument such as the liberal one provided by equality and freedom. It is not obvious however that one can regard one’s opponents in a disagreement as one’s peers. I therefore argue that democracy, through deliberative processes can provide one with reasons to regard another agent as one’s epistemic peers. What democratic deliberation provides then is evidence for the reasonableness of one’s opponents. This evidence provides one with reasons to refrain from politicising unsustainable disagreements. This shows how democracy can achieve some form of sustainability through mutual recognition.