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Open-mindedness and Deliberative Democracy

Khorasanee, Kasim; (2022) Open-mindedness and Deliberative Democracy. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The dominant justificatory framework for democracy is deliberative democratic theory. It holds that democracy is legitimate to the extent it instantiates, and is guided by, the ideals and processes of good deliberation. This thesis challenges the dominance of the deliberative paradigm by highlighting an under-explored, and yet critical, element of the theory – its dependence on participants’ open-mindedness. The thesis addresses two central issues – the empirical feasibility and normative desirability of open-mindedness. By surveying the psychological literature on directionally motivated reasoning this thesis identifies robust findings across a range of contexts and subjects that people engaged with, or knowledgeable about, politics are systematically closed-minded in a manner resistant to straightforward correction. This analysis is twinned with a novel methodological approach to feasibility. This entails that if we are to maintain any connection to ‘ought implies can’ we cannot draw any firm dividing line in feasibility analysis between impossibility and the types of probabilistic discoveries produced by the social sciences, such as motivated reasoning. Therefore such results have to be accounted for in normative theorising. This thesis builds a novel account of open-mindedness and its related phenomena – credulity and closed-mindedness – and finds that whether one ought to be open-minded is sensitive to a range of contextual criteria. It applies this context-sensitive approach to the case of elected representatives as centrally important figures in modern democracies. In particular, the practice of elections and electoral campaigning require elected representatives to uphold their electoral commitments while in office, an obligation put at risk by open-mindedness. The adversarial political context faced by elected representatives and their limited internal capabilities provides further reasons to deviate from open-mindedness. These findings call into question the central role open-mindedness plays in deliberative democratic theory. As a result, they open up theoretical space to explore alternative justifications for democracy’s legitimacy.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Open-mindedness and Deliberative Democracy
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10156575
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