The philosophical foundations of participatory democracy: natural, human, critical

Goatcher, J.I., 2004. The philosophical foundations of participatory democracy: natural, human, critical. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Existing theories of democracy tend to avoid or play-down how democracy can contribute to the development of the realization of fully human being. Participatory democracy is a form of democracy concerned explicitly with deepening the democratic process and ethos. Therefore this thesis examines and analyses a selection of influential moments in twentieth century participatory democracy theory, and identifies two broad strands of philosophical justification, referred to as essentialist affirmation and a pragmatic scepticism.

The 'essentialist' theorists examined, G.D.H. Cole, Carole Pateman, and Erich Fromm each hold to some form of the general philosophical principle that there are objects in the physical, social, and psychological world which exist and have properties independently of our theoretical concepts of, or discourses about, them.

The pragmatic sceptics, John Dewey, Benjamin Barber, and Chantal Mouffe, however, deny such an ontological doctrine and purport to rely wholly on epistemological phenomena to articulate their account of the world. They do, however, hold to varying levels of implicit realism, of social consequences, community, and discourse.

It is the contention of the thesis that the 'real' basis of social life and of its cast of actors, whatever it may turn out to be, cannot be sensibly denied. The ontological, and particularly the metaphysical, realm of human existence, should be given political consideration, and take a more central role in any theory of participatory democracy.

A critical realist perspective offers a persuasive philosophical basis from which to develop explicit ontological foundations for participatory democratic theory. It offers a nuanced awareness of both an essentialist ontology, and of an epistemological relativism which can help us theorize this dual benefit of participatory democracy.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Goatcher, J.I.
Date: 2004
ISBN: 9781369316827
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 30 Sep 2020 13:47
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2023 14:35

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